Appeal from Circuit Court, Marion County. Joseph B. Felton, Judge.
William J. Storie, Pendleton, argued the cause for appellant. On the brief was Ralph Currin, Pendleton.
Dwight P. Billman, Salem, argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Billman & Coleman, Salem.
Thornton, Judge. Schwab, Chief Judge, and Foley, Judge.
The natural mother of two minor children appeals from a decree which allowed the adoption of those children despite the mother's objection.
The petitioners, the natural father of the children and his present wife, sought the adoption. The natural mother objected, but the trial court found that her consent was not a prerequisite to the adoption pursuant to ORS 109.324. The trial court then granted the adoption to the petitioners.
In pertinent part, ORS 109.324 provides:
"* * * Upon hearing being had, if the court finds that such [objecting] parent has wilfully deserted or neglected without just and sufficient cause to provide proper care and maintenance for the child for one year next preceding the filing of the petition for adoption, the consent of such parent at the discretion of the court is not required and, if the court determines that such consent is not required, the court shall have authority to proceed regardless of the objection of such parent * * *."
The trial court found that, although the mother had not "wilfully deserted" the two children, she had
"neglected without just and sufficient cause to provide proper care and maintenance" for them. On appeal, the mother challenges this finding. She contends that the evidence did not prove "neglect" under ORS 109.324, and that, therefore, the court was without jurisdiction to allow the adoption.
The petitioners filed for adoption on April 28, 1971. They filed an amended petition on August 17, 1971. The adoption concerns two minor children, Rona Dunne, born August 22, 1963, and Katrina Dunne, born January 8, 1965. The natural father and mother were married in 1962 and divorced in 1966. The divorce decree awarded the temporary custody of the children to county juvenile authorities, who then put the children into a foster home. The decree also gave both parents a right to reasonable visitation with their children, subject to the supervision of the juvenile authorities; and provided that the father was required to pay $150 a month for their support. The mother was not required to make any contribution to the support of the children.
Both the father and mother attended the divorce proceeding and knew of the placement of their children. The mother accompanied the children ...