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HUNTER ADOPTION CASE (04/19/66)

decided: April 19, 1966.

HUNTER ADOPTION CASE


Appeals from decree and order of Orphans' Court of Greene County, No. 230 Orphans' Court, 1964, in re proposed adoption of Kevin Harold Hunter, a minor.

COUNSEL

Richard DiSalle, for appellant.

John I. Hook, Jr., with him Hook & Hook, for appellees.

Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 421 Pa. Page 288]

This is an appeal from a decree of adoption entered by the Orphans' Court of Greene County taken by the natural mother of the adoptive child. In approving the adoption, the court found both consent and abandonment by the natural mother. We are of the conclusion that neither finding may be sustained and that the decree of adoption must be reversed.

The natural mother [appellant] is a resident of Washington, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Following her graduation from a local high school, she attended college in West Virginia. During this period, she became pregnant, left college and returned to her family home in Washington, Pennsylvania.

Following her return to Pennsylvania, appellant contacted an osteopathic physician in Fairmont, West Virginia to arrange for the delivery of the child. Because the physician did not have staff privileges in any of the area hospitals, it was arranged that the baby would be delivered in the home of a relative of appellant

[ 421 Pa. Page 289]

    located in the nearby West Virginia community of Clarksburg.

Prior to the birth of the child, the possibility of placement for adoption was discussed. Pursuant to these discussions, appellant and her mother went to the office of her physician in West Virginia where they were met by a lawyer who had prepared relinquishment and consent forms for their signature. The forms, captioned "In the Circuit Court of Greene County, Pennsylvania", were executed by both appellant and her mother.

The child was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia on November 19, 1964. Four days after the birth, appellant and her mother again executed relinquishment and consent forms and, shortly thereafter, returned to their home in Washington, Pennsylvania without the child. Thereupon, the child was conveyed to the adoptive parents by way of an intermediary and has resided with them at their home in Greene County, Pennsylvania since that time.*fn1

Appellant, however, within a month after the birth of the child, returned to Clarksburg, West Virginia and visited the office of the district attorney for the purpose of locating the child. She was advised to obtain legal assistance in Pennsylvania. Returning to Pennsylvania, she contacted her present attorney on January 12, 1965; he in turn wrote to the West Virginia attorney who had obtained ...


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