No. 68 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Family Division, Juvenile Section, No. 652 of 1979.
James P. O'Connell, Aliquippa, for appellants.
Shari F. Shink, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
James A. Esler, Assistant County Solicitor, for participating party.
Cavanaugh, Watkins and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 284 Pa. Super. Page 11]
This appeal involves the custody of a child adjudicated dependent by the court below. Appellants (the child's natural parents) do not challenge the finding of dependency; rather, they contend that the lower court erred in ordering that the child continue in foster care under the supervision of Children and Youth Services of Allegheny County. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the order of the lower court.
On March 14, 1979, while examining appellants' eleven-month-old son for an ear infection, Dr. Hedwig Marwaha noticed a number of bruises on the child's arm, back, cheek, and neck. The bruises appeared to Dr. Marwaha to be three-to-ten days old and unlike those which a toddler might ordinarily sustain in learning to crawl and walk. Appellant-mother, who had brought the child in for the examination, did not volunteer an explanation as to the cause of the bruises, but in response to Dr. Marwaha's questions stated that it was possible that her husband had struck the child. The mother also told Dr. Marwaha that her husband had been frustrated by the fact that their son didn't seem to like him. Based on this information and his observations, Dr. Marwaha notified Children and Youth Services of Allegheny County (CYS) that he suspected that the child had been abused.
On March 21, 1979, at a follow-up examination for the child's ear infection, Dr. Marwaha noticed several new, more severe bruises on the child's cheek and abdomen. These bruises appeared to be less than two days old. Once again the mother offered no explanation as to the cause of the bruises, and Dr. Marwaha again notified CYS of suspected abuse. Altogether, Dr. Marwaha had seen approximately
[ 284 Pa. Super. Page 12]
twenty bruises on the child during the two visits. An attachment was obtained that same day and the child was taken into temporary foster care. At a shelter care hearing on March 22, 1979,*fn1 the lower court ordered that the child remain in temporary foster care pending a formal hearing. CYS then filed a petition requesting that the child be declared dependent, and the lower court conducted a series of hearings during which it received testimony from the parents, Dr. Marwaha, a psychologist who had examined the child, and various social workers and psychiatrists who had come into contact with the family. Throughout these proceedings the child was represented by separate counsel. On April 4, 1979, after the first of these hearings, the court adjudicated the child dependent and continued the proceedings pending the results of parental counseling and investigation into the needs of the child. On December 19, 1979, after the final hearing, the court ordered that the child continue in foster care under the supervision of CYS. This appeal followed.
The evidence at the several hearings revealed that the parents were unmarried and living apart when the child was born in April, 1978, and that the father did not see the child until December, 1978. The parents married in January, 1979. Although the cause of the child's bruises was never firmly established, the evidence suggests that the father may have caused them by striking the child. Dr. Marwaha opined that, based on the number and nature of the bruises and his impressions from meeting the parents, one of the parents had injured the child. The mother testified that she believed that her husband had struck the child and reiterated that ...