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K. N. v. LONNY CADES (05/22/81)

filed: May 22, 1981.

K. N., A MINOR BY HER PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN, J. N.
v.
LONNY CADES, ESQUIRE AND MR. AND MRS. JOHN DOE. APPEAL OF MR. AND MRS. JOHN DOE



No. 958 PHILADELPHIA, 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Civil Action at No. AO6-81-61091.

COUNSEL

Richard D. Malmed, Philadelphia, for appellants.

Jeffery Naftulin, Doylestown, for appellees.

Spaeth, Cavanaugh and Lipez, JJ.

Author: Spaeth

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page 557]

This case involves a dispute over an infant girl. The lower court permitted the mother to revoke her consent to the child's adoption, and awarded custody of the child to the mother. The couple who wished to adopt the child have appealed. We affirm.

The child was born on January 21, 1981. Her mother was, and still is, an unmarried, sixteen-year-old high school student, living in her parents' home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Before the child's birth, the mother, in response to her parents' urging, agreed to give the child up for adoption. Arrangements for placement of the child with appellants were made by private intermediaries. One of the intermediaries was the nurse and office manager of the mother's obstetrician, the other was an attorney. Both intermediaries told the mother, and also appellants, that she had six months within which she could change her mind and get her child back. On January 24, 1981, three days after the birth, the mother and her parents signed a consent to the child's adoption and delivered the child to the nurse intermediary,

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page 558]

    who the next day gave the child to appellants, who took her back to their home in Connecticut.

On February 13, 1981, appellants filed with the lower court a report of their intention to adopt the child.*fn1 On February 23, the Court Administrator wrote appellants that their report contained no information indicating that venue for the adoption was proper. In response, on March 9 appellants' attorney wrote the Administrator that venue was proper because Bucks County was the residence of the child's mother.

Meanwhile, the mother and her parents had had second thoughts about the adoption. On March 9, 1981, the mother and her mother informed the nurse intermediary that they wanted the child back. On March 13 they filed with the lower court a revocation of their consent to the adoption, and on March 17, a petition for custody of the child, designating as respondents the attorney intermediary and appellants. On April 1, a pre-hearing conference was held, at which appellants objected to the jurisdiction of the lower court. On April 10 the lower court dismissed the objection, accompanying its order with a memorandum opinion, and after a full evidentiary hearing, found that the mother had effectively revoked her consent to the adoption and ordered that the child be returned to her. It is from this order that appellants now appeal.*fn2

Appellants make three arguments; they challenge the lower court's jurisdiction; they contend that even if the lower court had jurisdiction, the law of their domicile, Connecticut, should apply; and they urge that if we apply Pennsylvania law, we should overrule the settled case law that a natural parent may revoke consent to adoption at any

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page 559]

    time up to the entry of a final decree of adoption, and hold instead that whether consent may be revoked depends upon the child's best interest.

-1-

The lower court was correct in its assumption of jurisdiction. Section 5344 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 5341 et seq., provides as follows:

(a) General rule. -- A court of this Commonwealth which is competent to decide child custody matters has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination by initial or modification decree if:

(1) this Commonwealth:

(i) is the home state of the child at the time of commencement of the proceeding; or

(ii) had been the home state of the child within six months before commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this commonwealth because of his removal or retention by a person claiming his custody or for other reasons, and a parent or person acting as parent continues to live in this Commonwealth;

(2) it is in the best interest of the child that a court of this Commonwealth assume jurisdiction because:

(i) the child and his parents, or the child and at least one contestant, have a significant connection ...


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