Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Division, of Lycoming County, No. 4047.
David C. Raker, Williamsport, for appellant.
Ann S. Pepperman, Williamsport, for J.E.S. and C.S., appellees.
Charles F. Greevy, III, Williamsport, for Children & Youth Services of Lycoming County, appellee.
Rowley, Olszewski and Cercone, JJ. Cercone, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
[ 365 Pa. Super. Page 292]
This is an appeal from an order involuntarily terminating the parental rights of appellant to his two children, J.R.S. and C.S. On appeal, appellant argues that there was insufficient evidence to support the court's order and that the court erred by admitting hearsay evidence which was a substantial basis of the court's decision. We affirm.
Our scope of review of an order involuntarily terminating parental rights is limited to a determination of whether the decree is supported by competent evidence. In re Adoption of J.J., 511 Pa. 590, 515 A.2d 883 (1986). Where the trial court reaches its decision on alternative grounds, one of which is appropriate and supported by the record, we should not reverse even though the alternative ground may not be supported by the record. In re Cope's Estate, 351 Pa. 514, 41 A.2d 617 (1945) ("as the other contention of the trustee was adopted as an alternative basis of the court's opinion, this Court need not reverse the
[ 365 Pa. Super. Page 293]
decree if the alternative ground will sustain it." Id., 351 Pa. at 518, 41 A.2d at 619).
In this case, the trial court found that alternative statutory grounds for the involuntary termination existed: 1) the appellant had failed to perform his parental responsibilities for a period of at least six months [23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(1)]; and 2) his failure to perform parental duties either could not or would not be remedied [23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(2) and (5)]. The issue raised by appellant concerning the hearsay evidence relates solely to evidence tending to establish the grounds for involuntary termination under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(2) and (5). Because we find that the evidence was sufficient to support the trial court's alternative finding that appellant failed to perform his parental responsibilities for a period of at least six months, we find it unnecessary to address the issue concerning inadmissible hearsay evidence.
The facts relevant to the court's determination that appellant failed to perform his parental responsibilities for a period of at least six months are as follows. Several years after Children and Youth Services of Lycoming County became involved with appellant and his family, appellant was incarcerated on a sentence of 3 1/2 to 10 years imprisonment following his conviction for sexual abuse of a stepdaughter not involved in the instant case. At the time of the hearings in this matter, appellant had been in jail for approximately 18 months. During that period he had sent the two children involved herein a total of no more than four letters. He did not send them any cards or gifts, he did not contribute to their support, he did not call them on the telephone, and he contacted Children and Youth Services only once concerning his children shortly after he went into jail. In short, appellant exhibited no real interest in and concern for the welfare of his children. Based on this ...