No. 116 March Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Orphans' Court Division Dated June 1, 1978 at Docket No. 202 of 1977
Thomas C. Reed, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Cheryl Allen Craig, Asst. County Sol., Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Nix, J., joined.
On June 22, 1977, appellee, the Child Welfare Services of Allegheny County, filed a petition in orphans' court seeking an involuntary termination of appellant Pinky Mae Wooten's parental rights in her son, Lanny Jose Robinson. Hearings were held and, by a decree entered on January 17, 1978, appellant's parental rights in the child were terminated. Exceptions were dismissed and this appeal followed.
Appellant's first contention is that there was insufficient evidence to support an involuntary termination of appellant's parental rights. This Court has held that
[t]he findings of the orphans' court, supported by competent evidence, "must be sustained unless the court abused its discretion or committed an error of law". . . . We must accept as true all evidence in the record supporting the findings of the court and reasonable inferences therefrom. . . . Conflicts in the testimony are to be resolved by the trier of fact, who is the sole judge of credibility. . . . This Court may not disturb a decree of the orphans' court based upon findings supported by the record unless the orphans' court applied an incorrect legal standard. Adoption of S.H., 476 Pa. 608, 611, 383 A.2d 529, 530 (1978) (citations omitted).
Viewed under this standard, the record established that on January 5, 1969, appellant gave birth to Lanny Jose. On June 2, 1969, when the child was almost 6 months old, the
child came under the care of the Child Welfare Services (CWS); the child has remained in a foster home since his first year.
Since the child's placement in a foster home, appellant has allowed a number of substantial periods to pass without visiting her child. Between July, 1974 and October 4, 1977 (a 39-month period), appellant visited the child on only 5 occasions (October 17, 1974, December 18, 1975, August 27, 1976, January 25, 1977, and June 9, 1977). During this 39-month period, appellant allowed periods of 14 months (October 17, ...