No. 55 May Term, 1977, Appeal from the Decree of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, No. 2895 Orphans' Court Division 1976, refusing to vacate the decree of adoption.
Nancy E. Rourke, Harrisburg, Alan Linder, Lancaster, for appellant.
Leon P. Haller, Harrisburg, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Packel, JJ. Eagen, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Packel, Former J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Nix, J., concurs in the result. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
The Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County denied appellant's petition to vacate a final decree of adoption entered September 3, 1976. In this appeal, appellant alleges there is insufficient evidence to support the finding that her consent to adoption was knowing, voluntary and deliberate, and asserts the statutory procedure followed by the orphans' court denied her due process and equal protection guaranteed by the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions. Because the first claim is without merit and the second claim is not properly preserved for appellate review, we affirm.*fn1
Appellant Cathy P. is the natural mother of Christopher P., born to appellant and her husband Anthony P. on September 17, 1973. Appellees the adoptive parents of Christopher pursuant to the final adoption decree, are the paternal grandparents of the child. Around the middle of July, 1976, appellant executed a Consent to Adoption appellees presented to her. The natural father signed a similar consent, which is not here challenged. The Consent signed by appellant states, in relevant part:
"2. That [Cathy P.] has been fully informed that [appellees] intend to and are about to present to the Court the Petition to which this [Consent] is attached, asking for the adoption of Christopher [P.];
. That [Cathy P.] hereby consents to the said adoption and voluntarily executes this Consent with the full knowledge of the legal effect of this Consent and of said adoption;
4. That she further states that she has not been paid or promised any payment or expects to receive any payment for executing this Consent, but executes this Consent by her own free will and without any undue influence or coercion and she further states that she is of the opinion that said adoption will promote the welfare of Christopher . . .;
6. That she hereby waives notice of the presentation of the Petition for said adoption and notice of the hearing thereon by the Court, and further that she respectfully requests your Honorable Court to excuse her from attending any and all hearings thereon."
The uncontested facts established at the hearing reveal that appellant was sixteen at the time of the child's birth and nineteen at the time of separation from her husband, the natural father. Appellant and the natural father married shortly before the birth of Christopher and, during the three years of their marriage, lived either with appellees or next door in a home owned by appellees. Appellant and the paternal grandmother shared care and control of the child, though the extent of participation by each is disputed. The child spent many nights in appellees' home after his parents moved next door and had his own room there.
In late June, 1976, appellant left the natural father due to marital difficulties. The child remained with appellees. In mid-July, 1976, appellant signed the Consent to Adoption. She continued to have some contact with the child over the summer and early fall 1976. In mid-August, 1976, the paternal grandmother took Christopher to Canada for two weeks, returning for the adoption hearing on August 31, 1976. In accordance with her signed Consent to ...