Appeals from decrees of Orphans' Court of Delaware County, April T., 1965, No. 122, in re adoption of Katherine Hookey and Christine Hookey, minors.
Jack Brian, with him Richard, Brian & DiSanti, for appellant.
Harry J. Martin, Jr., for appellees.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones.
These are consolidated appeals from companion adoption decrees*fn1 rendered by the Orphans' Court of Delaware County on April 28, 1965.
On April 9, 1965, Joan Hookey Carpenter (natural mother), the natural mother of the two children whose adoption is presently at issue, petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County for a hearing to secure the custody of and/or visitation rights to her two children. The two children, aged nine and seven respectively, were at that time residing with their natural father, Edwin L. Hookey, Jr. (natural father), and his present wife, Catherine T. Hookey. Three days after the filing of the custody petition, the natural father -- joined by his present wife -- petitioned the Orphans' Court of Delaware County for the adoption of the two children.*fn2 After a hearing, President Judge van Roden of the Orphans' Court granted decrees of
adoption of each child in favor of the natural father and his present wife. From these decrees, the natural mother has taken these appeals.*fn3
The children's natural parents were married on February 11, 1956, and, of that marriage, three children were born; only two of these children are involved in these proceedings, Christine born in June, 1956 and Katherine, born February, 1958. In the wake of persistent marital discord, the natural mother left the matrimonial domicile on October 21, 1962, and this marital discord finally led to a divorce which terminated the marriage on April 19, 1963.
Immediately after the natural mother's withdrawal from the marital home in 1962, Madeline M. Kelly, maternal grandmother of the children, at the natural father's request, came to the marital home to take care of the children. Three weeks later, Mrs. Kelly, with the natural father's permission, took Christine to live with her at her own home and, shortly thereafter, the other child, Katherine, joined them. The two children remained in Mrs. Kelly's care for a period in excess of two years. For the major part of this time, the natural father financially supported the children and made regular biweekly visits to see them. During the same time, the natural mother failed to aid them financially, probably due to her own unemployment, but she did not see the children until the date of the hearing in this matter -- April of 1965 -- a period of approximately 2 1/2 years.
In May, 1963, the natural mother remarried. Of that marriage one child has been born and, at the time of hearing, a second child was expected. In May, 1964, the natural father remarried. Upon the natural father's ...