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January 19th, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
A Chicago area judge has ruled Nunu Sung to be an unfit mother.  The trial will continue to decide whether the Burmese native’s parental rights will be terminated.  Read about it here (Daily Herald, 1/17/12).

Back in late 2008, Sung became pregnant by a Texas man.  But, according to reports, she kept her pregnancy secret due to her Burmese heritage that frowns on unmarried childbearing.  She apparently sought no prenatal care and, on June 12, 2009, gave birth behind a garage in her neighborhood.  She then left the newborn boy under a bush and walked away.  The temperature was in the 50s and she left the child naked and alone while she sought shelter, cleaned herself up and warmed up.

As if by a miracle, the child was found by a neighbor who was walking his dog.  The boy was suffering from hypothermia when he was found.  Nunu at first denied to police that the child was hers, but later confessed.

Nunu told the court that she always intended to return for the infant, but she never did.  After being found, the child was given appropriate medical and parental care and is alive and well today in the care of foster parents who wish to adopt him.

Nunu was charged with obstructing justice and, under a plea bargain, given a three-year prison sentence, but she’s always wanted to have custody of the child.  Indeed, her plea bargain stipulated that prosecutors would not seek to terminate her parental rights.

But Kathleen Anderson, the infant’s court-appointed guardian, had no hesitation about moving to terminate Nunu’s parenatal rights.  She did so, and, according to Illinois procedure and a court order, it’s the district attorney’s office that’s required to prosecute the case against Nunu.

So, for the time being, Nunu’s attorneys pronounce themselves happy with the verdict of parental unfitness because it allows them to appeal the court’s ruling that the state seek termination of her parental rights.  They say that violates the plea bargain; the DA’s office says it has to do what the court told it to do.

My guess is that’s much ado about nothing.  Whoever ends up prosecuting the parental rights termination case, someone needs to.  If that’s the child’s guardian, fine.  If it’s the DA’s office, that’s fine too.  But clearly, a mother who behaved as Nunu did, looks like a very good candidate to have her rights terminated, however that’s accomplished.

Meanwhile, there’s the dad.  It’s universally agreed that he never wanted anything to do with his child by Nunu, but what no article I’ve read has ever said is how anyone knows.  Consider this statement from a previous Daily Herald article.

Authorities said Sung became pregnant while living in Texas but kept the pregnancy a secret after moving to Wheaton in February 2009. They said she never received prenatal care, and the child’s father never expressed an interest in pursuing custody.

So, she kept the pregnancy secret, and the father never pursued custody.  Maybe that’s because he didn’t know about the pregnancy.  After all, if it’s a secret, maybe it’s a secret from him too.  Why do “authorities” believe he knows about his child?  Did Nunu tell them?  Why would they trust her?

Of course maybe he does know.  Maybe Nunu told him; maybe child welfare authorities did.  It’d be interesting to know what his understanding was about contraceptive use.  Did Nunu intend to become pregnant?  Did he know she did?  Did she use contraceptives?  What did she tell him about that?

It’s long been my understanding that, when men are involved in the decision to have a child, and agree with it, they’re highly supportive of the child, the mother, etc.  Indeed, many men who aren’t involved in that decision willingly take up their responsibilities. 

But many of the men who don’t want to play the paternal role feel that way because the decision to bring a child into the world wasn’t discussed with them before the woman became pregnant.  Their refusal seems to have more than anything to do with the woman’s exercise of power over their legitimate right to decide for themselves about whether or not to father a child.

So I wonder if there’s not something of the sort going on in this case.  I suppose we’ll never know, because, in typical fashion, the press covering the case consigns the father to an anonymous afterthought.

Meanwhile, it seems almost incredible that a mother who came close to killing her newborn should have tried to get custody of it.  The decision to deny her any parental rights at all would seem to be too obvious to even mention.  Fortunately, the judge in the case apparently saw things in a clear light and ruled Nunu Sung to be an unfit parent.  From there it would seem to be a short step to terminating her rights.

We’ll soon see.

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