No. 1836 October Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County, Juvenile Division, at No. 288-J1975.
Jeffrey Gilbert, Allentown, for appellant.
James T. Huber, Allentown, did not file a brief on behalf of Guardian, participating party.
Malcolm J. Gross, Allentown, for Children's Bureau, participating party.
Brosky, Hoffman and Cirillo,*fn* JJ.
[ 287 Pa. Super. Page 256]
Appellant-mother contends that the lower court erred in denying her petition for visitation with her two daughters. We are unable, however, to address the merits of her appeal
[ 287 Pa. Super. Page 257]
and, instead, remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
The subjects of these proceedings are Lisa, born November 29, 1970, and Cynthia, born October 23, 1974, who have been under the care of the Lehigh County Office of Children and Youth Services (CYS) since August, 1975, pursuant to a voluntary agreement of appellant and her then husband.*fn1 On October 6, 1975, the children were adjudicated deprived and custody was awarded to CYS. The children were then placed in separate foster homes, but have been together in the same foster home since approximately December, 1977. CYS permitted the parents monthly, one-hour, supervised visits, a privilege which they exercised sporadically. Subsequently, neither parent visited the children for a period of approximately six months. In May, 1977, appellant resumed a pattern of irregular visitation which she attributed to her marital problems, her husband's incarceration, and his eventual release. In January, 1978, CYS caseworker Francis Slonaker scheduled visits at six-week intervals. Appellant visited the children, according to schedule, in January, March, May, and June, 1978. Following each of those visits, the foster mother reported to Mr. Slonaker incidents of the children's misbehavior which she believed was related to appellant's visits.*fn2 Mr. Slonaker agreed, and unilaterally terminated appellant's visitation effective August 4, 1978.*fn3
[ 287 Pa. Super. Page 258]
Following an unsuccessful attempt at informal resolution of the visitation matter, appellant filed a petition for visitation with the Juvenile Division of the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas on January 8, 1979. The court conducted a hearing on March 23, 1979, at which appellant testified about her prior visitations, her desire to resume visitation, and the failure of CYS to explain the problems which the children were having and which caused her visitation rights to be suspended. The foster mother testified that prior to the January, 1978 visit, the children had developed a close relationship to the foster family, adopting its surname as their own. She testified also that she had discussed the prospect of adopting the children with Lisa and Mr. Slonaker. Additionally, she described the instances of the children's misconduct which had increased in severity and duration following each of appellant's visits. The foster mother testified also that following the suspension of visitation, the children's behavior stabilized. Mr. Slonaker testified that he had monitored appellant's visits and considered the foster mother's reports. He stated that the children had made excellent progress in their current foster placement until the recent disruptions following appellant's visits. Mr. Slonaker testified that he had heard appellant tell Lisa that her father was ...