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WOLFE ADOPTION CASE (11/26/73)

decided: November 26, 1973.

WOLFE ADOPTION CASE


Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Allegheny County, No. 438 of 1971, in re adoption of Richard Lee Wolfe.

COUNSEL

Roland T. Keddie, for appellants.

Thomas J. Godlewski, with him O'Connell, Silvis & Godlewski, for appellee.

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

Author: Manderino

[ 454 Pa. Page 551]

The trial court denied appellants' petition requesting an involuntary termination of the parental rights of the appellee, the natural mother of Richard, a male child less than one year old. The trial court ordered that the appellants, prospective adoptive parents, return Richard to his natural mother.

The Adoption Act of 1970 provides for the involuntary termination of parental rights if: ". . . the parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months either has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child, or has refused or failed to perform parental duties . . ." Act of July 24, 1970, P. L. 620, § 311, 1 P.S. § 311(1).

The trial court concluded that the evidence did not warrant an involuntary termination of parental rights under the above Section of the Adoption Act of 1970. We agree with the trial court and affirm.

[ 454 Pa. Page 552]

Prior to Richard's birth on July 13, 1971, discussions took place between Richard's mother (seventeen years of age), Richard's maternal grandmother, and a family doctor, who is also an attorney. The doctor told Richard's mother and the maternal grandmother that he knew of a family who would be willing and anxious to adopt the child. Because Richard was born prematurely, he remained in the hospital for a short while after his mother's release. On July 31, 1971, eighteen days after the birth, Richard was given to the family doctor's nurse, who brought Richard to the prospective adoptive couple. On the same day, July 31, 1971, Richard's mother, at the office of the family doctor, and in the presence of the maternal grandmother, signed a petition for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. A little over three weeks later the petition was filed on August 25, 1971. The family doctor acting in his attorney capacity filed the petition for Richard's mother. A little less than three weeks later, on September 14, 1971, Richard's mother signed an affidavit which was attached to a Supplement to her petition for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights. The Supplement was signed by the family doctor and states that he was acting as attorney for Richard's mother. The Supplement to the original petition was not filed until almost four months later on January 6, 1972. The record is completely silent concerning the circumstances involved in the signing of the Supplement to the original petition.

On July 31, 1971, the prospective adoptive parents signed a report of intention to adopt and the family doctor on that same day signed an intermediary's report. The report of intention to adopt was filed on August 19, 1971.

On February 1, 1972, Richard's mother received notice that a hearing on her petition would be held on February 8, 1972. On February 8, 1972, Richard's mother ...


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