Appeals, Nos. 156 to 159, inclusive, March T., 1954, from decree of Orphans' Court of Westmoreland County, Aug. T., 1953, No. 99, and Aug. T., 1953, No. 100, in re adoptions of Dennis Paul Crouse, a minor, and Gloria Jean Crouse, a minor. Decree affirmed. Proceeding upon citation and rules to show cause why custodians of minors should not deliver up custody after decrees of adoption entered. Citation made absolute, opinion by COPELAND, P.J. Custodians of children appealed.
W. P. Geary, with him Joseph M. Loughran and Robert B. Filson, for appellants.
D. J. Snyder, Jr., with him Fred B. Trescher and Kunkle & Trescher, for appellees.
Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO
The fate of the two children in this case has been so knotted and re-knotted in legal complications that it can only be a matter of gratification to cut through the Gordian entanglements and restore the embattled infants to the people to whom they have endeared themselves and from whom they can confidently expect and will unquestionably receive the protection, care and love which would be forthcoming from natural and devoted parents.
Gloria Jean Crouse, age 8, and Dennis Paul Crouse, age 7, were born out of wedlock to Anne Crouse, a resident of Westmoreland County. In 1948, the Juvenile Court of that County, with the active aid and cooperation of the Catholic Charities, Greensburg diocese, placed Gloria Jean in the home of Michael Elroy Hixson and Kathryn Ann Hixson. Her little brother Dennis joined Gloria Jean at the Hixson home, and the maintenance for both was paid by Westmoreland County. In 1952 the Hixsons sought to adopt the children but they were unable to file in court the necessary papers because the whereabouts of the mother,
whose consent and signature to the paper were required, could not be ascertained.
On September 2, 1953, the Juvenile Court, on the oral request of the executive secretary of the Catholic Charities, without hearing, released Gloria Jean from the custody of the Hixsons and placed her under the care and custody of the Catholic Charities who delivered Gloria and her brother to the home of Robert B. Filson and Margaret DeLourde Filson, living in Armstrong County.
By this time the Hixsons had obtained the consent of the children's mother for adoption and accordingly filed on September 2, 1953, a petition for such adoption in the Westmoreland County Orphans' Court, which petition was contested by the Catholic Charities through legal counsel who appeared at the hearing. On October 22, 1953, the Orphans' Court entered a decree granting the petition of the Hixsons. From this decree the Catholic Charities appealed, but the appeal was later withdrawn.
On November 13, 1953, the Filsons attacked the adoption proceedings complaining that they had not been notified of the court's action, and asserted further that their home offered ideal facilities for the welfare and best interests of the children. The Orphans' Court rejected the Filson's attempted intervention, stating that they were not proper parties in interest and that the allegations in their petition did not set forth any ground for setting aside the decreed adoption. On the same day that the Filsons challenged the Hixson adoption proceedings the Hixsons presented a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to obtain custody of the children from the Filsons who still ...