No. 302 January Term, 1978, Appeal from the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Orphans' Court Division, June 8, 1978, Danying the Petition for Adoption, No. 1131-1/2 of 1977.
David E. Wagenseller, III, Carol Gundel Falk, Lancaster, for appellant.
Melvin H. Hess, Lancaster, for Genevieve Rose Young.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Manderino, J., did not participate in the decision of this case.
Appellants, paternal grandparents of D.J.Y., appeal from the orphans' court dismissal of their petition to adopt D.J.Y. The court dismissed the petition on the ground that appellants failed to establish a case for termination of the parental rights of appellee, G.R.Y., the natural mother. Although the court found that appellee failed to maintain contact with
D.J.Y. for a period of six months, it also found that appellee's failure was attributable to appellants' deliberate actions designed to thwart appellee's attempts to contact her son. We conclude that the orphans' court findings are supported by the evidence and affirm the decree.
D.J.Y. was born on March 29, 1970 to appellee and her husband. For the first few months of D.J.Y.'s life, the family lived in the home of appellants. Appellee's marital relationship with her husband deteriorated and she left the home. D.J.Y. remained in appellants' care. Between 1971 and 1974, D.J.Y.'s parents attempted to reconcile and re-establish a family household. During this time, D.J.Y. continued to reside with appellants.
On September 2, 1977, appellants filed a petition for the adoption of D.J.Y. At the hearing on the petition, appellants testified that appellee had failed to perform her parental duties from 1974 to 1977. They claimed that appellee, during that period, never contacted, met or supported D.J.Y., and thus appellee's parental rights should terminate pursuant to section 311(1) of the Adoption Act of 1970.
Appellee, on the other hand, testified that during this period the natural father and appellants thwarted her attempts to maintain contact with her son. According to appellee, the grandfather forced her to leave the home in 1971 and would not permit her to take D.J.Y. Between 1971 to 1973, appellee saw D.J.Y. sporadically, always at appellants' home. When appellee and her husband reunited in 1973, she sought to have D.J.Y. live with them. Her husband, however, told her that they did not have room for D.J.Y. in their one room apartment, and could not afford to keep him. Further, her husband told her that appellants had "custody" of D.J.Y. and would care for the child until they, the parents, were able to improve their financial situation and find more spacious living quarters. During that time appellee visited her son at appellants' home, but was unable to ...