No. 1311 Pittsburgh 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, of Allegheny County, Juvenile Dkt. No. 256-78.
Lorraine D. Taylor, McKeesport, for appellant.
Marc Salo Drier, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Michaele Krepinevich and Richard S. Levine, Pittsburgh, for Krapinevich, participating parties.
James A. Esler, Assistant City Solicitor, Pittsburgh, for Children, participating party.
Popovich, Montgomery and Van der Voort, JJ.
[ 314 Pa. Super. Page 392]
This is an appeal by Joan B., natural mother of Damon B., from an order reducing her visitation rights from twice a month to once every ninety days.
Damon B. was born on June 16, 1977. He and his six siblings were adjudicated dependent on February 15, 1978, because of generally unsanitary conditions in the home. The children were returned to Joan B. under the supervision of Children and Youth Services. However, the problems continued and Damon was again removed, first to a shelter on September 12, 1978, then to the foster home of Mr. and Mrs. K. on October 3, 1978, where he still resides. Joan B. visited Damon on a regular once-a-month schedule until
[ 314 Pa. Super. Page 393]
January 1981, when the visits increased to twice a month in contemplation of Damon's eventual return to Joan B. At approximately the same time, the visits became erratic due to cancellations by the foster parents. On May 21, 1981, Joan B. filed a petition for review and enforcement of her visitation rights. Hearings were held on this petition on June 17, 1981, September 9, 1981, and October 30, 1981. Twice-a-month visitation was ordered pending the final decision. Although no formal petition was filed by the foster parents, they were represented by counsel and the court and all parties treated the matter as if they had petitioned for a decrease or cessation of visitation. On September 9, 1981, the foster parents filed a Notice of Intention to Adopt Damon.
Most of the testimony consisted of evaluations by two clinical psychologists of Damon and his interaction with his foster parents and his natural mother. At the October 30 hearing, testimony was also given by Joan B., Mr. K. (the foster father), and Dolores McCall, Joan B.'s caseworker who had supervised the visits. Both psychologists testified extensively about Damon's strong psychological bonds to his foster parents, his inability to relate well to his natural mother during the visits they observed, and the stress caused by the visits, which included nightmares, enuresis, irrational fear of Joan B., and expressions of rage in his behavior. Both recommended ceasing or, at least, reducing visitation and stated that it was in Damon's best interest to remain with the foster parents. The primary reason for this recommendation was because Damon had formed such a strong psychological bond with the foster parents. Mr. K. testified that Damon had always had problems with the visits but that these problems had significantly worsened when the visits became more frequent. He made clear his and Mrs. K.'s desire to adopt Damon. He also stated ...