No. 02457 PHL 83, Appeal from the Judgment entered July 12, 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Orphans Division, at No. 52400.
Bro Jamal Hashim, B., in propria persona.
Emil F. Toften, Chalfont, for Bucks County, participating party.
Richard I. Moore, Southampton, for Child Advocate, participating party.
Montemuro, Johnson and Hoffman, JJ.
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In this pro se appeal, appellant challenges the lower court's July 12, 1983 order involuntarily terminating his parental rights.*fn1 Upon thorough review of the record, and imposition of the appropriate standard of review, we find that the lower court's determination is well-supported by the evidence. Accordingly, we affirm.
An appellate court, in reviewing a termination order, must employ a broad, comprehensive review of the record, but is limited in its standard of review to a determination of whether "the trial court's termination of [the petitioner's] parental rights is supported by competent evidence." In re Adoption of James J., 332 Pa. Superior Ct. 486, , 481 A.2d 892, 894 (1984). Stated differently, unless the lower court has abused its discretion or committed an error of law, the order must stand. Furthermore, the burden of proof on the party seeking to terminate another's parental rights is one of clear and convincing evidence. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 71 L.Ed.2d 599 (1982). "In order to meet the clear and convincing burden of proof appellee must instill in the mind of the court a firm belief or conviction." In re Adoption of James J., supra 332 Pa. Superior Ct. at 495, 481 A.2d at 896. Our Supreme Court has described this highest civil evidentiary standard as follows:
The witnesses must be found to be credible, that the facts to which they testify are distinctly remembered and the details thereof narrated exactly and in due order, and that
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their testimony is so clear, direct, weighty, and convincing as to enable the [trier of fact] to come to a clear conviction, without hesitance, of the truth of the precise facts in issue . . . It is not necessary that the evidence be uncontradicted . . ., provided it carries a clear conviction to the mind . . . or carries a clear conviction of its truth . . .
La Rocca Trust, 411 Pa. 633, 640, 192 A.2d 409, 413 (1963).
So viewed, the facts are as follows: The child at issue, Baby Boy P., was born out of wedlock on May 2, 1982. The natural mother, Charlotte P., placed the child with appellee, the Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency, upon her release from the hospital. The child was subsequently placed in foster care by agreement of both parents because the mother wanted the child placed for adoption*fn2 and the father, appellant, lacked the financial resources to assume custody at the time. Approximately two weeks after the child's birth, appellant expressed his desire to obtain ultimate custody of the child and, consequently, met with Jean Berger, a social ...