Mother Who Abandoned Baby Fights for Custody

Foster parents who've grown to love the boy want full custody

By Anthony Ponce
|  Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011  |  Updated 8:59 PM CDT
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A 26-year-old mother who three years ago abandoned her newborn son in a wooded area near her Wheaton apartment is now fighting to retain her parental rights.

A 26-year-old mother who three years ago abandoned her newborn son in a wooded area near her Wheaton apartment is now fighting to retain her parental rights.

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A 26-year-old mother who three years ago abandoned her newborn son in a wooded area near her Wheaton apartment is now fighting to retain her parental rights.

In exchange for Nunu Sung's guilty plea last year that she endangered the child's life, DuPage County prosecutors agreed not to pursue terminating her parental rights. She began her three-year prison sentence last year thinking she'd get her child back upon her release.

"At every turn, this woman has done what she's been asked," Sung's attorney, Terra Howard, said outside the courthouse Tuesday.

Howard and Sung's other attorneys filed a motion asking the court to stop the foster parents from pursuing full parental rights, but the judge denied it. Sung also accused the DuPage County State's Attorney of going back on the plea agreement.

"Nunu is very disappointed in how she has been treated and how this case has proceeded," said Howard.

But prosecutors see things differently.

"The court has the power to order the state to prosecute a termination petition, and that's what happened in this case. The agreement was that we would not seek to terminate parental rights. We didn't file the petition, so I think that we are still honoring the terms of the agreement,"  DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin said in a statement.

Howard said Sung's case is complicated by several things, including a client who speaks very little English and a plea agreement that no longer applies because the foster parents who have grown to love the boy now want custody.

And she insisted the young mother has an explanation for why she abandoned the infant.

"Until she's finishing serving her sentence, we cannot really talk about what happened to her for fear of further prosecution," said Howard.

In Sung's native country in Southeast Asia, she said unmarried mothers are often ostracized and face threats of physical violence.

"She did not leave the child to die, and I think as time goes on, Nunu's story will come out," said Howard.

Sung's attorneys said they'll take their client's case to an appellate court if necessary.

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