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SHEAFFER APPEAL (05/23/73)

decided: May 23, 1973.

SHEAFFER APPEAL


Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Butler County, No. 111 of 1972, in re adoption of Robbie Sheaffer.

COUNSEL

A. R. Cingolani, Jr., with him Cingolani & Cingolani, for appellant.

Frank P. Krizner, with him McCandless, Chew & Krizner, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones.

Author: Jones

[ 452 Pa. Page 166]

The appellant gave birth to a male child on February 6, 1970. The child, Robbie, was conceived and born out of wedlock. During her pregnancy appellant was referred to the Butler County Bureau of Children's Services ("Bureau"). Appellant gave custody to the Bureau and her son was placed in foster care on February 17, 1970. Appellant signed a "Parent's Placement Agreement" on February 20, 1970, which provided for temporary placement of the child, but permitted removal from foster care by appellant upon ten days' prior notice to the Bureau. On the same date appellant

[ 452 Pa. Page 167]

    signed a "consent to adoption".*fn1 On June 9, 1970, at the Bureau's request, appellant signed a "specific consent of [the] mother" to adoption by the foster parents.*fn2

On December 31, 1970, appellant changed her relinquishment decision and contacted an attorney to determine whether she could recant her approval of adoption proceedings. In January of 1971 appellant manifested her change of position by informing Bureau caseworker, Diann Morse, that she intended to keep her child. By January of 1972 the appellant had manifested a definite plan to regain custody of her child by April 1, 1972, and was told that the Bureau would "work toward that date".*fn3

A petition for involuntary termination of parental rights, filed by the Bureau on March 23, 1972, charged the following:

[ 452 Pa. Page 168]

"A. That the said [appellant] has, by conduct continuing for two years, evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to the child and has refused or failed to adequately fulfill the role of parent. . . .

"B. That the repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal of [appellant] which cannot or will not be remedied, has caused said Child [sic] to be without essential parental care. . . ." The court below determined that appellant abandoned her child within the meaning of the Adoption Act of 1970,*fn4 and its precursor,*fn5 and terminated her parental rights. Though raised by the appellee in its petition for involuntary termination, the court below did not pass upon the question of whether appellant has exhibited such a continued and irremedial parental incapacity as to justify the termination of parental rights. Act of July 21, 1970, P. L. 620, § 311, 1 P.S. § 311(2); see Jones Appeal, 449 Pa. ...


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