Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

[U] In re Adoption of P.A.B.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

July 10, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF: P.A.B. APPEAL OF: M.N.W., Natural Mother Appellant IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF: K.N.W. APPEAL OF: M.N.W., Natural Mother Appellant IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF: T.V.H. APPEAL OF: M.N.W., Natural Mother Appellant IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF: A.R.G. APPEAL OF: M.N.W., Natural Mother Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Decree entered December 19, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Orphans' Court Division, at No. 30 In Adoption 2012

Appeal from the Decree entered December 19, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Orphans' Court Division, at No. 30A In Adoption 2012

Appeal from the Decree entered December 19, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Orphans' Court Division, at No. 30B In Adoption 2012

Appeal from the Decree entered December 19, 2012 in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Orphans' Court Division, at No. 30C In Adoption 2012

BEFORE: STEVENS, P.J., BOWES and MUSMANNO, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

MUSMANNO, J.

In these consolidated appeals, M.N.W. ("Mother") appeals from the Decrees that granted the Petitions filed by the Erie County Office of Children and Youth ("OCY" or "the Agency"), seeking to involuntarily terminate Mother's parental rights to her four children, P.A.B., a seven year-old boy; K.N.W., a two year-old girl; T.V.H., an eleven year-old girl; and A.R.G., an eight year-old girl (collectively "the Children"), pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(1), (2), (5), and (b).[1] We affirm.

The trial court set forth the relevant history underlying this appeal as follows:

The [C]hildren came to the attention of [OCY] on August 25, 2011, when [Mother] contacted OCY. [Mother] requested services as she was being evicted from her apartment after being incarcerated. [Mother] was briefly incarcerated for a domestic incident when she stabbed her boyfriend in the course of an argument in May of 2011. The boyfriend refused to press charges and [Mother] was released.
Due to the eviction notice, [Mother] requested help locating housing. OCY assisted [Mother] and the [C]hildren with a five-day stay at a hotel and a food order. The Erie County Homeless Program assisted [Mother] and [the C]hildren with an additional eight-day stay at a hotel.
On September 6, 2011, OCY received a call stating [that] the [C]hildren were in the care of [Mother's] paternal grandmother as [Mother] had attempted suicide by overdosing on Klonopin[, ] which she [had illegally] purchased off the street. [Mother] was involuntarily committed to Millcreek Community Hospital. [Mother] was diagnosed with a mood disorder and instructed to follow-up with services at Stairways Behavioral Health.
On September 12, 2011, [Mother] requested voluntary placement of the [C]hildren due to her inability to meet the [C]hildren's basic needs. At the time of the voluntary placement, none of the fathers were available to care for the [C]hildren. … The [C]hildren were placed in foster care and kinship care.
[Mother] had been involved with OCY on three prior occasions due to homelessness, drug abuse, mental health issues and a conviction for federal charges of dealing drugs. Due to her history, OCY requested [that Mother] participate in random urinalyses in September of 2011. [Mother] tested positive for marijuana on September 13, 2011[, ] and September 14, 2011.
[Mother] was involved with OCY as a teen parent from 1996 until 2000. … On July 15, 2004, OCY received a referral [that Mother] was pregnant [with A.R.G.] and smoking marijuana. She was also hitting and swearing at her three-year[-]old daughter[, T.V.H.]. [Mother] acknowledged parent-child relationship problems and admitted to smoking marijuana prior to her pregnancy. The matter was closed with OCY in March of 2005[, ] as [Mother had] cooperated with in-home services.
On August 29, 2005, [Mother] pled guilty to federal charges of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute [cocaine]. On February 15, 2006, [Mother] was sentenced to three months of incarceration followed by three years of supervised release. [Mother] was placed on supervised release on October 24, 2006. [Mother's supervised release] was revoked on February 22, 2007, and [she was] sentenced to five months of incarceration followed by two years of supervised release. [Mother] petitioned for supervised release [on] September 4, 2007, but failed to appear for the hearing on September 19, 2007. A warrant for her arrest was issued. [Mother] again was revoked from supervised release and sentenced to thirty-one months of incarceration on September 25, 2007. [Mother] also has a criminal history of numerous state traffic and non-traffic offenses from 2004 through 2006.
On November 15, 2005, OCY received a referral [that Mother had] tested positive for cocaine while she was pregnant with P.A.B. After her federal sentencing on February 15, 2006[, ] and after her revocations from supervised release in February of 2007 and September of 2007, the [C]hildren lived with various relatives. [] P.A.B.[] spent very little time with [Mother] after his birth due to [Mother's] periods of incarceration. [] T.V.H., A.R.G. and P.A.B.[] lived with [Mother's] maternal grandmother until the spring of 2011[, ] when T.V.H. and A.R.G. returned to [Mother's] care. [] K.N.W.[] was also living with [Mother]. [] P.A.B.[] remained with [Mother's] maternal grandmother as [Mother] was attempting to bond with him after her prolonged absences due to incarceration.
On October 10, 2010, OCY received a referral regarding [Mother, ] as [] K.N.W.[] was born exposed to marijuana. [A case was opened regarding Mother and the Agency offered] various services [to Mother]. The case was closed in May of 2011[, due to Mother's] cooperat[ion] with [A]gency services. Within two weeks of case closure, [Mother], while high on K2, stabbed her boyfriend. [Mother] was incarcerated at the Erie County Prison and the [C]hildren again went to live with relatives. …
Subsequently, [upon Mother's release from prison, she] requested voluntary placement of the [C]hildren …. [and they] were placed in [foster care and kinship care].

Trial Court Opinion, 12/19/12, at 2-5 (footnotes and citation omitted).

The trial court explained the permanency matters relating to the Children and Mother as follows:

The [C]hildren were adjudicated dependent on September 29, 2011 …. The Dispositional Permanency Hearing[] was held on October 26, 2011. A goal of reunification was established. [Mother was] ordered to participate in a drug and alcohol assessment and random urinalyses; refrain from the use of drugs and alcohol; attend a parenting program; participate in a mental health evaluation and any indicated treatment; [and] secure safe and stable housing and employment. [Additionally, Mother was ordered] to attend supervised visits with the [C]hildren upon a showing of thirty days of clean urines. [Mother] was to complete the Erie County Dependency Treatment Court program. …
A permanency hearing was held March 21, 2012. [Mother's] compliance with the reunification Order was negligible[.] … [Mother had] minimally participated in and did not complete the Dependency Treatment Court program. [Mother] appeared at Treatment Court on November [10], 2011[, ] to observe the proceedings. Thereafter, [Mother] was to attend weekly sessions. Her next appearance at Treatment Court was for two sessions in January of 2012[, ] and one on February 2, 2011. [Mother] admitted continuing abuse of marijuana and K2 (synthetic marijuana) to the treatment team. [Mother] last appeared at Treatment Court on February 9, 2012. [Mother] was unsuccessfully discharged from Treatment Court on March 15, 2012, due to lack of compliance.
Though [Mother] participated in a drug and alcohol assessment, she did not follow through with any treatment recommendations. [Mother] was unable to refrain from the use of drugs. [Mother] tested positive for K2 on September 9, 12, and 19 of 2011[, ] and January 2 and 6, 2012. She was a no- show for 67 scheduled urine drops; to [OCY's] knowledge, a failure to appear for a urine drop is determined to be a "dirty urine[, ]" i.e.[, ] positive for drugs.
[Mother] attended two parenting classes in January of 2012[, ] but did not successfully complete the program. [Mother] did not obtain employment. [Mother] did not address her mental health issues. No visits occurred[, ] as [Mother had] admitted to drug abuse during this time period.
[Mother] did not obtain stable, independent housing. Since November of 2011, [Mother] lived off and on with various family members and friends. [Mother] refused to enter a shelter program or consider admission to the Mercy Center for Women, a residential program. Instead, [Mother] chose to live with her paramour, [D.H.], and his mother. [D.H.] was on state parole supervision for DUI and drug charges.
The permanency goal was changed to adoption as there was no progress toward alleviating the circumstances [that] led to the placement of the [C]hildren.

Trial Court Opinion, 12/19/12, at 5-7 (citations omitted).

On June 7, 2012, OCY filed Petitions seeking the involuntary termination of Mother's parental rights to the Children pursuant to sections 2511(a)(1), (2), (5), and (b). Subsequently, the trial court held a hearing on the termination Petitions, at which OCY presented the testimony of Melissa Renee Bible ("Bible"), a mental health forensic case manager with Erie County Care Management. N.T., 11/5/12, at 8. The trial court made the following factual determinations from Bible's testimony:

[Mother] was assessed for substance abuse and mental health treatment on November 10, 2011. [Id. at 9-10.] The treatment team concluded [that Mother] was in need of a dual diagnosis program to address [her] drug and alcohol issues and her mental health issues. [Id. at 10-11.] A 28-day in-patient dual diagnosis program at Deerfield was recommended. [Id.] [Mother] indicated to the treatment team [that] she would participate in this program at Deerfield. [Id. at 12-13.] In fact, [Mother] never showed up at Deerfield when a bed became available. [Id. at 13.]
The treatment team called [Mother] numerous times to reengage her in mental health services. [Id. at 14.] [Mother] was to attend Treatment Court weekly. [Id. at 15.] [Mother] failed to attend Treatment Court on a regular basis or participate in random urine [tests]. [Id. at 15, 16, 18.]
On January 27, 2012, [Mother] contacted Bible requesting help. [Id. at 15.] After Bible helped [Mother] get her medical benefits in order, [Mother] went to Stairways Behavioral Health that day but was inconsistent in following up with her mental health medications and individual therapy. [Id. at 15-16.] When [Mother] was not on her medications, she presented as excitable with … racing thoughts …. [Id. at 26.] When [Mother] was on her medications, she presented with a calmer demeanor and was better able to rationalize. [Id. at 23.]
Bible's last contact with [Mother] was on March 10, 2012. [Id. at 18-19.] [Mother] requested help securing housing after moving several times over a period of four months.

Trial Court Opinion, 12/19/12, at 10-11.

Next, OCY presented the testimony of Tracy Murphy ("Murphy"), an OCY supervisor and the former liaison between OCY and the Treatment Court. N.T., 11/5/12, at 29-30. The trial court made the following factual determinations from the testimony:

[Mother] attended Treatment Court on November [10], 2011, to observe the proceedings. [Id. at 30-31.] It was determined by the [T]reatment [C]ourt team [that Mother] was in need of weekly [T]reatment [C]ourt appearances. [Id. at 37.] [Mother] failed to attend any Treatment Court sessions until January 12, 2012[, ] and another on January 19, 2012. [Id. at 31-32, 36.] [Mother] appeared again on January [27], 2012, and stated [that] she wanted treatment. [Id. at 15-16, 24, 36.]
The treatment team again recommended to [Mother that] she re-engage in drug and alcohol and mental health therapy at Stairways Behavioral Health[, ] as [Mother had] indicated [that] she was using synthetic marijuana and was not appearing for random urinalysis testing. [Id. at 32, 35.] [Mother] attended two Treatment Court sessions on February 2, 2012 and February 9, 2012, after which she ceased attending. [Id. at 33-34, 36.]
Murphy testified [that Mother] was discharged as unsuccessful from Treatment Court on March 15, 2012. [Id. at 34-35.]

Trial Court Opinion, 12/19/12, at 11-12.

OCY then presented the testimony of Sandra Tate ("Tate"), the ongoing caseworker assigned to Mother's case. N.T., 11/5/12, at 41-42. The trial court made the following factual determinations from Tate's testimony:

Tate became involved with [Mother] after the [C]hildren were adjudicated dependent on September 2[9], 2011. [Id. at 42.]
[Mother] attended four supervised visits with the [C]hildren at OCY just prior to and after the adjudication of dependency [on September 29, 2011]. [Id. at 49, 56-57.] Tate observed two visits and concluded [that Mother] had good interaction with two of the children, but not the younger two. [Id. at 57.] Though [Mother] seemed appropriate at the visits, Tate was concerned about [Mother's] positive urinalyses for cocaine and marijuana and the lack of a bond with … P.A.B. [Id.]
After the Dispositional Hearing [on October 26, 2011], Tate reviewed the [R]eunification [C]ourt Order with [Mother]. [Id. at 55, 58.] In January of 2012, [Mother] called Tate[, ] threatening to hurt herself and appeared out of control. [Id. at 63-64.] [Mother] presented with many mental health problems, a failure to comply with the treatment plan and no stable housing or employment. [Id. at 65.] Despite the ready availability of the appropriate services, [Mother] did not engage in any effort to address her problems. [Id. at 66.]
The goal was changed to adoption at the Permanency Review Hearing in March of 2012. [Id. at 66-67.] At the time, three of the children were placed together in a kinship home [that] is an adoptive resource; the fourth child is placed in another kinship home [that] is an adoptive resource. [Id. at 69-70, 72-73, 85.] The [C]hildren are bonded to the kinship resources. [Id. at 69-72.] The [C]hildren regularly have sibling visits. [Id. at 70-73.] The [C]hildren are receiving in-home counseling services through the Family Based Mental Health program. [Id. at 70.] The [C]hildren display some special needs due to [Mother's] transient lifestyle and drug abuse. [Id. at 71.] The [C]hildren appear stable and happy in their placements. [Id. at 73.]

Trial Court Opinion, 12/19/12, at 12-13.

On cross-examination, Mother's counsel questioned Tate about Mother's contact with Tate after OCY had filed the termination Petitions in June 2012. N.T., 11/5/12, at 78-79. Counsel for OCY objected to the questioning based on 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(b), prohibiting consideration of post-petition conduct. N.T., 11/5/12, at 80. The trial court ruled, over the objection of Mother's counsel, that the questioning was permissible only to the date of OCY's filing of the termination Petitions. Id.

Mother testified on her own behalf. Mother testified that she was self-medicating with marijuana and K-2, and she became addicted. Id. at 149-50. Mother alleged that the last time she had used drugs was in September 2012. Id. at 150. Mother testified that she resided at a residential treatment facility at the time of the hearing. Id. On cross-examination by the guardian ad litem, Mother stated that she was not seeking for the Children to be placed in her care immediately, but at some point in the future. Id. at 154. Mother admitted that she lacks a bond with P.A.B., as she has been absent from his life. Id. at 148. Additionally, Mother admitted that she had been incarcerated for a total of approximately four and one-half years of the Children's lives. Id. at 154-55. She also admitted that she has problems with drugs, alcohol, and mental health issues. Id. at 156.

On December 19, 2012, the trial court entered the Decrees involuntarily terminating Mother's parental rights to the Children pursuant to section 2511(a)(1), (2), (5), and (b). On that same date, the trial court entered its Opinion, providing its reasoning, and stating that the court would not consider any of the evidence presented relating to Mother's post-petition conduct. See Trial Court Opinion, 12/19/12, at 7. Mother timely filed Notices of appeal as to each of the separate cases, along with Concise Statements of Errors Complained of on Appeal, pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a)(2)(i) and (b).

On appeal, Mother raises five issues for our review:

1. Did the Orphans' Court commit an error of law when it refused to consider [Mother's] post-petition conduct in its analysis of 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(2) and § 2511(a)(5) as: (1) the Orphans' Court's ruling contravenes the plain language of 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(b); and (2) the Superior Court precedent relied upon by the Orphans' Court is wrongfully decided and/or the holdings on this issue are obiter dicta?
2. Did the Orphans' Court commit an abuse of discretion or error of law when it concluded that the Agency established sufficient grounds for termination under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(1)?
3. Did the Orphans' Court commit an abuse of discretion or error of law when it concluded that the Agency established sufficient grounds for termination under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(2)?
4. Did the Orphans' Court commit an abuse of discretion or error of law when it concluded that the Agency established sufficient grounds for termination under 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(5)?
5. Did the Orphans' Court commit an abuse of discretion or error of law when it concluded that termination of [Mother's] parental rights was in the Children's best interests under section 2511(b)?

Mother's Brief at 8 (capitalization omitted).

Our standard of review is as follows:

[A]ppellate courts must apply an abuse of discretion standard when considering a trial court's determination of a petition for termination of parental rights. As in dependency cases, our standard of review requires an appellate court to accept the findings of fact and credibility determinations of the trial court if they are supported by the record. If the factual findings are supported, appellate courts review to determine if the trial court made an error of law or abused its discretion. As has been often stated, an abuse of discretion does not result merely because the reviewing court might have reached a different conclusion. Instead, a decision may be reversed for an abuse of discretion only upon demonstration of manifest unreasonableness, partiality, prejudice, bias, or ill-will.

In re Adoption of S.P., 47 A.3d 817, 827 (Pa. 2012) (citations omitted).

The burden is upon the petitioner to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the asserted grounds for seeking the termination of parental rights are valid. In re R.N.J., 985 A.2d 273, 276 (Pa. Super. 2009). Moreover, we have explained that

[t]he standard of clear and convincing evidence is defined as testimony that 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."

Id. (citation omitted).

It is well established that this Court may affirm the trial court's decision regarding the termination of parental rights with regard to any one subsection of section 2511(a), along with a consideration of section 2511(b). See In re B.L.W., 843 A.2d 380, 384 (Pa. Super. 2004) (en banc). Here, we will focus upon subsection 2511(a)(1) and section 2511(b), which provide as follows:

§ 2511. Grounds for involuntary termination

(a) General rule.-- The rights of a parent in regard to a child may be terminated after a petition filed on any of the following grounds:
(1) The parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition either has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or has refused or failed to perform parental duties.
(b)Other considerations.-- The court in terminating the rights of a parent shall give primary consideration to the developmental, physical and emotional needs and welfare of the child. The rights of a parent shall not be terminated solely on the basis of environmental factors such as inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical care if found to be beyond the control of the parent. With respect to any petition filed pursuant to subsection (a)(1), (6) or (8), the court shall not consider any efforts by the parent to remedy the conditions described therein which are first initiated subsequent to the giving of notice of the filing of the petition.

23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(1), (b).

We have explained this Court's review of a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the involuntary termination of a parent's rights pursuant to section 2511(a)(1) as follows:

To satisfy the requirements of section 2511(a)(1), the moving party must produce clear and convincing evidence of conduct, sustained for at least the six months prior to the filing of the termination petition, which reveals a settled intent to relinquish parental claim to a child or a refusal or failure to perform parental duties. In addition,
Section 2511 does not require that the parent demonstrate both a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child and refusal or failure to perform parental duties. Accordingly, parental rights may be terminated pursuant to [s]ection 2511(a)(1) if the parent either demonstrates a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or fails to perform parental duties.
Once the evidence establishes a failure to perform parental duties or a settled purpose of relinquishing parental rights, the court must engage in three lines of inquiry: (1) the parent's explanation for his or her conduct; (2) the post-abandonment contact between parent and child; and (3) consideration of the effect of termination of parental rights on the child pursuant to [s]ection 2511(b).

In re Z.S.W., 946 A.2d 726, 730 (Pa. Super. 2008) (citations omitted).

Regarding the definition of "parental duties, " this Court has stated that
[t]here is no simple or easy definition of parental duties. Parental duty is best understood in relation to the needs of a child. A child needs love, protection, guidance, and support. These needs, physical and emotional, cannot be met by a merely passive interest in the development of the child. Thus, this [C]ourt has held that the parental obligation is a positive duty [that] requires affirmative performance.
Parental duty requires that the parent act affirmatively with good faith interest and effort, and not yield to every problem, in order to maintain the parent-child relationship to the best of his or her ability, even in difficult circumstances. A parent must utilize all available resources to preserve the parental relationship, and must exercise reasonable firmness in resisting obstacles placed in the path of maintaining the parent-child relationship. Parental rights are not preserved by waiting for a more suitable or convenient time to perform one's parental responsibilities while others provide the child with … her physical and emotional needs.

In re B., N.M., 856 A.2d 847, 855 (Pa. Super. 2004) (citations omitted). A "parent's basic constitutional right to the custody and rearing of his child is converted, upon the failure to fulfill parental duties, to the child's right to have proper parenting and fulfillment of his or her potential in a permanent, healthy, safe environment." In re Adoption of C.L.G., 956 A.2d 999, 1006 (Pa. Super. 2008) (en banc) (citation omitted).

Finally, regarding evidence of post-abandonment contact by a parent, this Court has stated that

[t]o be legally significant, the [] contact must be steady and consistent over a period of time, contribute to the psychological health of the child, and must demonstrate a serious intent on the part of the parent to recultivate a parent-child relationship and must also demonstrate a willingness and capacity to undertake the parental role. The parent wishing to reestablish his parental responsibilities bears the burden of proof on this question.

In re Z.P., 994 A.2d 1108, 1119 (Pa. Super. 2010) (citation omitted).

Here, with regard to the considerations under section 2511(a)(1), the trial court found the following based on the testimony at the termination hearing:

OCY has proven [that Mother] demonstrated a failure to perform parental duties within the six months prior to the filing of the termination [P]etitions under section 2511(a)(1). Notably, the [C]hildren have been in placement in excess of the six months required under section (a)(1) …. [Mother] failed to perform any parental duties within the six months prior to the filing of the termination [P]etition.

Trial Court Opinion, 12/19/12, at 13-14.

Our review of the record reveals that the trial court thoroughly considered the facts and determined that Mother had failed to perform her parental duties for the requisite six-month period. The trial court considered and rejected Mother's explanation that her failure to perform her parental duties and for her post-abandonment conduct was due to her incarceration, drug abuse, and mental health issues:

By her own admission, [Mother] has lived an irresponsible, drug-infested, criminal lifestyle for years. She has been absent from the [C]hildren's lives for years. She has exposed the [C]hildren to domestic violence and unsavory influences. The [C]hildren have not had a stable, secure and responsible mother in their lives.
All of these circumstances existed before the adjudications of dependency on September 2[9], 2011. In these cases, [the Children] were removed from [Mother's] care and a plan [was] put into place for their return. [Mother] was given the opportunity to change her lifestyle and remedy the conditions [that] led to the adjudications of dependency.
[Mother] was surrounded with a plethora of holistic services to assist her. [Mother] did nothing to comply with the reunification plan. She continued to use illegal drugs and spurned substance abuse treatment. She was discharged from the Erie County Treatment Court for [her] failure to [] make an[y] effort to live drug-free or engage in treatment.
The filing of the Petitions to involuntarily terminate [Mother's] parental rights on June 7, 2012, did not alter [Mother's] narcissistic lifestyle. According to [Mother's] testimony, she was still using drugs in September of 2012. It was not until the eve of the termination [hearing] that [Mother] appeared to make any rehabilitative efforts.
[Mother's] eleventh-hour attention to her drug addictions and mental health concerns is laudable but untimely. As of the time of the termination [hearing], [Mother] was still not in a position to be a parent. At the time of [the hearing], [Mother] was unemployed, lacked housing for the [C]hildren and had not demonstrated any sustained stability enabling her to parent these children. None of [Mother's] witnesses could predict when [Mother] would be in a position to parent [the Children]. [Mother's] history, as she created it, casts dark clouds of uncertainty regarding if, and when, [Mother] would ever be in a position to parent [the Children].

Trial Court Opinion, 2/15/13, at 8-9 (citations omitted).

The trial court's determinations regarding subsection 2511(a)(1) are supported by ample, competent evidence in the record.[2] See In re S.P., 47 A.3d at 826-27. Further, there is sufficient, clear and convincing evidence in the record to support the trial court's conclusions with regard to the first two prongs of the test in In re Z.S.W., 946 A.2d at 730.

Having determined that the requirements of subsection 2511(a)(1) are satisfied, we proceed to review whether the requirements of section 2511(b) have been satisfied. See In re Z.P., 994 A.2d at 1121. The focus in terminating parental rights under section 2511(a) is on the parent, but it is on the child pursuant to section 2511(b). See In re Adoption of C.L.G., 956 A.2d at 1008.

In reviewing the evidence in support of termination under section 2511(b), we consider whether terminating parental rights would best serve the developmental, physical and emotional needs and welfare of the child. See In re C.M.S., 884 A.2d 1284, 1286-87 (Pa. Super. 2005).

Intangibles such as love, comfort, security, and stability are involved in the inquiry into the needs and welfare of the child. The court must also discern the nature and status of the parent-child bond, with utmost attention to the effect on the child of permanently severing that bond.

Id. at 1287 (citations omitted). Additionally, this Court has observed that no bond worth preserving is formed between a child and a natural parent where the child has been in foster care for most of the child's life, and the resulting bond is attenuated. In re K.Z.S., 946 A.2d 753, 764 (Pa. Super. 2008).

With regard to the considerations under section 2511(b), the trial court in this case found the following, based on the testimony at the termination hearing:

Termination of parental rights will best meet the needs and welfare of the [C]hildren under the standard of best interests of the [C]hildren pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(b).
[Mother has] not remediated any of the problems [that] led to the placement of the [C]hildren. [Mother has] demonstrated an incapability of performing parental duties for more than the six months immediately preceding the filing of the [P]etitions to terminate [Mother's parental] rights. [Mother has] failed to demonstrate an ability to be [a] full-time parent[] to the [C]hildren.
[Mother] acknowledges there is no bond with P.A.B. [] K.N.W.[] was placed in kinship care at the age of eleven months. She has been in kinship placement for more than one-half of her life. By her own admission, [Mother] has been incarcerated for about four and one-half years of the [C]hildren's lives.
There is no evidence of a parental bond [that] will be adversely affected by permanent placement of … the [C]hildren with the kinship resources. The [C]hildren demonstrate strong bonds with the kinship resources[, ] who accommodate regular sibling visits.
The [C]hildren's rights to permanent, safe environments cannot be put on hold indefinitely. Given the above circumstances and the [C]hildren's attachments to their pre-adoptive kinship families, termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the [C]hildren.
Adoption by the kinship resources will permit the [C]hildren permanency and stability. Termination of parental rights will best serve the developmental, physical, and emotional needs and welfare of the [C]hildren.
Based on the foregoing, [the trial c]ourt finds [that OCY] has proven by clear and convincing evidence that [Mother's] parental rights should be terminated and that adoption is in the best interests of [the Children].

Trial Court Opinion, 12/19/12, at 14-15 (citations omitted). The trial court's credibility and weight determinations regarding section 2511(b) are supported by competent evidence in the record. Accordingly, the third prong of the test in In re Z.S.W. is satisfied. See In re Z.S.W., supra.

Finally, we reject Mother's argument that she wishes to have a relationship with the Children and requires more time to address her psychological and drug abuse issues. To the extent that Mother wishes to have an opportunity to bond with the Children, it is well established that "[t]he court cannot and will not subordinate indefinitely a child's need for permanence and stability to a parent's claims of progress and hope for the future." In re Adoption of R.J.S., 901 A.2d 502, 513 (Pa. Super. 2006); see also In re Z.P., 994 A.2d at 1125 (stating that a child's life "simply cannot be put on hold in the hope that [a parent] will summon the ability to handle the responsibilities of parenting."). Moreover, "[a] parent cannot protect his parental rights by merely stating that he does not wish to have his rights terminated." In re B., N.M., 856 A.2d at 855 (citation omitted).

Based upon the foregoing, we affirm the trial court's Decrees granting the Agency's Petitions to involuntarily terminate Mother's parental rights to the Children.

Decrees affirmed.

Judgment Entered.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.