No. 168 March Term, 1979, Appeal from Final Decree Entered on August 24, 1979, by the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County, at No. 9 Adoption 1974
Joseph D. Messina, Johnstown, for appellant.
James R. Cascio, Fike, Cascio & Boose, P. C., Somerset, for The Children's Aid Society of Somerset County.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Eagen, C. J., concurred in the result.
This appeal is from a final decree entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County involuntarily terminating the parental rights of the mother, appellant, J.C., in her natural daughter, D.J.C. The essential facts are as follows. D.J.C. was born to appellant on June 4, 1969; on August 16, 1971, the child was placed by the lower court in the custody of Children's Aid Society of Somerset County (hereinafter called appellee). On December 20, 1978, appellee filed a petition with the lower court seeking involuntary termination of appellant's parental rights pursuant to Section 311(1) of the 1970 Adoption Act.*fn1 After hearings on the matter, the lower court entered a final decree dated August 24, 1979, granting the petition and keeping the child in the custody of
appellee until such time as she is adopted. This direct appeal followed.*fn2
First, appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to establish by a preponderance that she refused or failed to perform parental duties for a period of six months and that involuntary termination of her parental rights was consequently unwarranted. This Court has stated that the scope of our review in such a matter is to inquire "whether the orphans' court determination that appellant refused or failed to perform parental duties for at least six months is supported by competent evidence." (citations omitted). In re Burns, 474 Pa. 615, 624, 379 A.2d 535, 539-40 (1977). In In Matter of Kapcos, 468 Pa. 50, 360 A.2d 174 (1976), we further elaborated upon this scope of review when we stated:
The hearing court, which hears the testimony and determines the credibility of witnesses, makes the initial determination whether abandonment has been established. . . . If such evidence appears in the record, we must affirm the hearing court even though the record could support an opposite result (citations omitted). Id., 468 Pa. at 54, 360 A.2d at 176.
In light of this standard and our careful scrutiny of the record, appellant's contention lacks all merit. The judge made the following relevant findings of fact upon which he based his conclusion that appellant refused or failed to perform her parental duties for the requisite statutory period:
24. [Appellant] has made no contact with her daughter . . . or with Children's Aid (appellee) from September, 1977 until after the Petition to Terminate ...