Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania Entered December 21, 1984, Vacating the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County at No. 982 Year 1980 337 Pa. Superior Ct. 133,
Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ.
Appellant C.S.R. appeals by allowance a per curiam order of a Superior Court panel. The panel vacated the order of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas and remanded the case with directions to enter a decree terminating appellant's parental rights. On December 30, 1980, Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Inc. (appellee) petitioned for involuntary termination of appellant's parental rights to Baby Boy A. pursuant to Section 311 of the Adoption Act, Act of July 24, 1970, P.L. 620, 1 P.S. § 311.*fn1 Common Pleas concluded that
appellee had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence*fn2 that appellant's conduct justified a termination of his parental rights. Superior Court determined, upon reviewing the record, that Common Pleas erred in its decision and that appellee had met its burden of proof.
The record shows the undisputed fact that appellant made no effort to fulfill his parental responsibilities for a period of fifteen months, from June, 1979, until September, 1980. Therefore, as a matter of law, appellee has met its burden of proof on the issue of abandonment. It could not show more than appellant's total failure to act. Because this inaction persisted for a period of time beyond the statutory six months, Common Pleas erred in determining that appellee had not shown abandonment. Furthermore, on this record there is no evidence that the child's interests are better served by continuing appellant's parental rights. Accordingly, the order of Superior Court is affirmed.
Baby Boy A. (child) was born on March 31, 1979. At that time appellant, who is illiterate, was serving a sentence on a rape conviction.*fn3 Appellant learned of the child's existence on June 28, 1979, when Kirk L. Reider, Director of Professional Services for appellee, visited him in prison. Mr. Reider visited appellant for the purpose of telling him of the birth of the child and requesting his consent to the termination of his parental rights. Mr. Reider informed appellant that the child's mother had consented to having the child adopted.
Appellee agency had placed the child in a foster home on April 4, 1979.*fn4 Mr. Reider told appellant that the placement had been made, although he did not tell appellant where the child was. Appellant refused to agree to voluntary termination of his parental rights. Because he was unable at
that time to care for the child himself, appellant suggested to Mr. Reider that appellant's mother might be able to care for the child for him.
From the time of Mr. Reider's visit until his release on parole on September 24, 1980, a period of fifteen months, appellant did nothing to try to find out more about the child or to have any communication with the child. Although appellant's illiteracy hindered his meaningful participation in his child's life while he was in prison, we are unwilling to hold that the law expects nothing from him at all. We are mindful that the fact-finding function is reserved to Common Pleas; however, the record shows that appellant did nothing to even attempt to fulfill his parental responsibilities prior to his release on parole.*fn5 Even an illiterate prisoner can show some interest in his child's well-being and we now hold the law of Pennsylvania requires him to do so if he wishes to retain an absolute right to parental status unaffected by the consideration of how ill-served the child's interest is by that tie.
Our law, in permitting termination for abandonment over the belated objections of the parent, if termination is best for the child, recognizes the occasional failure of nature's ...