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HILDENBRAND APPEAL. (01/02/62)

January 2, 1962

HILDENBRAND APPEAL.


Appeal, No. 314, Jan. T., 1961, from order of Municipal Court of Philadelphia County, Nov. T., 1959, No. 767, in re petition and rule to set aside voluntary relinquishment decree of Robert Hildenbrand by Helen M. Hildenbrand. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Henry A. Meinzer, with him Duryea, Larzelere & Meinzer, for appellant.

Robert M. Landis, with him J. Stokes Adams, III, and Adams & Childs, and Barnes, Dechert, Price, Myers & Rhoads, for Children's Aid Society of Pennsylvania, appellee.

William B. Ball, Milton P. King, and Sterling, Magaziner, Stern & Levy, and David B. Fitzgerald, Assistant Attorney General, and David Stahl, Attorney General, for Department of Public Welfare, and other nonprofit child caring agencies, as amici curiae.

Before Bell, C.j., Jones, Cohen, Eagen and Alpern, JJ.

Author: Bell

[ 405 Pa. Page 580]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BELL.

Helen M. Hildenbrand, an unwed mother, gave birth prematurely to a baby boy on September 9, 1959. She could not bring the baby to her mother's home and had neither a place of her own nor the financial resources to care for him. She got in touch with the Children's Aid Society of Pennsylvania and made arrangements to formally surrender the child. All of the facts and factors regarding relinquishment of the child were explained to her by a representative of the Society. On September 11, 1959, she signed a temporary agreement giving custody of the child to the Society and the child was taken by the Society from the hospital on September 14, 1959. On October 29, 1959, she signed a petition relinquishing forever her parental rights to her child and after a hearing thereon was held in the Municipal (now County) Court of Philadelphia, that Court awarded the child to the Children's Aid Society of Pennsylvania in accordance with the Act of 1953, infra. Thereafter, in March, 1960, Miss Hildenbrand requested the Society to return the child to her, but the Society refused. On May 18, 1960, she filed a petition

[ 405 Pa. Page 581]

    in the Municipal Court to set aside the aforesaid decree which it had entered sur her petition for voluntary relinquishment of her child and after hearings on this petition, the petition was dismissed by the Court. This appeal followed.

The Act of April 4, 1925, P.L. 127, as added by the Act of August 26, 1953, P.L. 1411, § 2, 1 PS § 1.1, provides: "When any person under the age of eighteen years has been in the care of an approved agency or institution for a minimum period of thirty (30) days, the parent or parents of such person may petition the court, in the county in which is located that office of the approved agency or institution having the custody of such person, for permission to relinquish forever all parental rights to such person.*fn* ...

"The court shall thereupon fix a time for hearing, which shall be not less than ten days after such petition is presented. The hearing shall be private. At such hearing the court, by examination under oath of the parties to the petition, shall ascertain the truth of the facts set forth in the petition and its execution, and if satisfied as to the truth thereof and that the petition should be granted, it shall issue its decree so finding, and (1) directing the transfer of the custody of the person to the approved agency or institution, and (2) authorizing such agency or institution to give consent to the adoption of such person without further consent of or notification to the parent or parents."

Prior to the enactment of this amendment, and even now, unless the voluntary relinquishment procedure is followed, consent by the natural parents to adoption may be withdrawn at any time before the entry of the final decree of adoption: Harvey Adoption Case, 375 Pa. 1, 7, 99 A.2d 276; Susko ...


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