No. 40 January Term, 1978 Appeal from the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Orphans' Court Division, Dated December 15, 1977
William J. Scott, West Chester, for appellant.
E. Craig Kalemjian, Thomas P. Fay, West Chester, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino, Larsen and Flaherty, JJ. Manderino, J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Nix, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
This is an appeal from a decree of the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County
which terminated involuntarily the parental rights of appellant to her natural daughter, I.R.A.*fn1
I.R.A., born in 1967, is the youngest of appellant's seven children born out of wedlock, most of whom have been raised by persons other than appellant and with only several of which appellant maintained any contact. Shortly after I.R.A.'s birth, appellant and I.R.A. moved to the home of I.R.A.'s paternal aunt where they then resided for approximately eight months. Appellant's children can be traced to several different fathers but soon after I.R.A. was born appellant married the child's father and they moved away from the aunt's house, taking I.R.A. along with them.
Between 1968 and 1972 appellant experienced a number of personal problems including alcoholism, epilepsy, and attempted suicide. Her marriage deteriorated into a separation, and in September of 1970 she cut her husband with a knife after he misappropriated a welfare check. Appellant was then placed in a mental hospital and I.R.A. was again sent to live with I.R.A.'s aunt. While the child lived there, appellant visited the aunt and said she saw the child on only a few occasions. Between 1968 and 1972, appellant was hospitalized on five or six occasions in mental hospitals. I.R.A.'s residence with the aunt continued until August of 1973 when the aunt placed I.R.A. with the appellee agency, Chester County Children and Youth Service, which transferred the child to a foster home. This marked the start of nearly a four year period during which appellant had virtually no contact with I.R.A.
After August of 1973, appellant never sent letters, cards, or gifts to I.R.A. Nor was any attempt made to telephone or write to the appellee agency. Appellant is illiterate and said she did not know what address to write to but she was capable of using the telephone, of traveling, and in fact visited the agency on the two occasions hereafter described. She had a tutor for reading and writing lessons. This tutor, appellant ...