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In re Adoption of M.P.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

September 10, 2013

IN RE: ADOPTION OF M.P., APPEAL OF: J.P., Appellant IN RE: ADOPTION OF M.P., APPEAL OF: M.C., NATURAL MOTHER, Appellant IN RE: ADOPTION OF C.J.P., APPEAL OF: M.C., NATURAL MOTHER, Appellant IN RE: ADOPTION OF T.J.P., APPEAL OF: M.C., NATURAL MOTHER, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order Dated February 21, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County Orphans' Court at No(s): 98 OF 2012, 99 OF 2012, 97 OF 2012

BEFORE: BOWES, MUNDY, and COLVILLE, [*] JJ.

MEMORANDUM

BOWES, J.

In these consolidated appeals, J.P. ("Father") appeals from the order dated February 21, 2013, in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, involuntarily terminating his parental rights to the female child, M.P., born in December of 2010. In addition, M.C. ("Mother") appeals from the separate orders dated February 21, 2013, involuntarily terminating her parental rights to M.P., and to the male child, C.J.P., born in May of 2008, and to the female child, T.J.P., born in February of 2006.[1] We affirm.

On July 25, 2012, the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau ("the Agency") filed separate petitions for the involuntary termination of Father's parental rights to M.P. and Mother's parental rights to M.P., C.J.P. and T.J.P. The trial court held a hearing on the petitions on November 29, 2012. The following witnesses testified at the hearing: Carol Patterson, a psychologist who performed a bonding attachment evaluation with respect to C.J.P. and T.J.P.; Tiffany McKlveen, the Agency caseworker; Mother; K.J., the maternal grandmother ("Maternal Grandmother"), and Father. The testimonial evidence revealed as follows.

On September 30, 2010, the Agency opened a case for services in the home for this family. N.T., 11/29/12, at 22. At the time, Mother was living with Father, and she was pregnant with M.P., who is Father's natural child.[2]Id. at 86-87. On November 17, 2011, M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. were placed in the physical custody of the Agency due to Mother's continued drug use, homelessness, failure to begin non-offender services, noncompliance with the terms of her probation, [3] and her violation of a safety plan that required she be supervised with M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. Id. at 18, 21. M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. were residing with Maternal Grandmother at the time of their placement, and Mother's whereabouts were unknown to the Agency. Id. In addition, at the time of their placement, Father was serving a term of incarceration for having physically assaulted C.J.P. Id. at 18-19. Father was arrested in November of 2010 for this crime, and he remained incarcerated up to and including the time of the termination hearing. Id. at 143. Mother was indicated as a perpetrator by omission as a result of Father's physical abuse of both C.J.P. and T.J.P. Id. at 28-29.

On December 2, 2011, the trial court adjudicated M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. dependent. The following family service plan ("FSP") goals were established for Mother: successfully complete drug and alcohol treatment; be referred to the accelerated permanency treatment program; comply with random drug screens; complete non-offender education regarding physical abuse issues and parenting instruction; secure stable and appropriate housing and a verifiable and legal source of income; and cooperate with the terms of her criminal court supervision. Id. at 22-23. Father was directed to participate in all services available in prison, including, but not limited to, parenting instruction, drug and alcohol instruction, anger management counseling and individual counseling; and to contact the Agency upon release from prison for an assessment regarding reunification services. Id. at 23.

By order dated February 21, 2013, the trial court involuntarily terminated Father's parental rights to M.P. pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(1), (2), (5), and (b). Father timely filed a notice of appeal and concise statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a)(2)(i) and (b). In addition, by orders dated February 21, 2013, the court involuntarily terminated Mother's parental rights to M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(1), (2), (5), and (b). Mother timely filed separate notices of appeal and concise statements of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a)(2)(i) and (b), which this Court consolidated sua sponte.

Father presents the following issues for our review:

I. Whether the trial court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the moving party met its burden as to terminating the parental rights of Father under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(1) when he did not know that he was the Father of M.P. until June of 2012 and the termination petition was filed in July of 2012?
II. Whether the trial court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the moving party met its burden as to terminating the parental rights of Father under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(2) when after Father found out in June of 2012 that M.P. was his daughter he used the resources available while incarcerated to maintain his relationship with M.P.?
III. Whether the trial court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the moving party met its burden as to terminating the parental rights of Father under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(5) when M.P. was never in her Father's care?
IV. Whether the trial court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the moving party met its burden under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(b) that the best interests of the child is met by terminating Father's parental rights?

Father's brief at 4.

Mother presents the following issues in her appeal:

I. Whether the trial court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the moving party met its burden as to terminating the parental rights of Mother under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(1)?
II. Whether the trial court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the moving party met its burden as to terminating the parental rights of Mother under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(2)?
III. Whether the trial court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the moving party met its burden as to terminating the parental rights of Mother under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(5)?
IV. Whether the trial court erred in finding by clear and convincing evidence that the moving party met its burden under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(b) that the best interests of the children are met by terminating Mother's parental rights?

Mother's brief at 4.

We review Father's and Mother's appeals according to the following standard:

[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, 826 (Pa. 2012) (citations omitted).

Termination of parental rights is controlled by § 2511 of the Adoption Act, which requires a bifurcated analysis. We have explained as follows:

Initially, the focus is on the conduct of the parent. The party seeking termination must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the parent's conduct satisfies the statutory grounds for termination delineated in Section 2511(a). Only if the court determines that the parent's conduct warrants termination of his or her parental rights does the court engage in the second part of the analysis pursuant to Section 2511(b): determination of the needs and welfare of the child under the standard of best interests of the child. One major aspect of the needs and welfare analysis concerns the nature and status of the emotional bond between parent and child, with close attention paid to the effect on the child of permanently severing any such bond. In re L.M., 923 A.2d 505, 511 (Pa.Super. 2007) (citing 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511).

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

In these related appeals, we review the trial court's orders terminating Father's and Mother's parental rights pursuant to § 2511(a)(2) and (b), which provide as follows:

(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:
(2) The repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal of the parent has caused the child to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence necessary for his physical or mental well-being and the conditions and causes of the incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal cannot or will not be remedied by the parent.
(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. §§ 2511(a)(2), (b).[4]

To satisfy the requirements of § 2511(a)(2), the moving party must produce clear and convincing evidence regarding the following elements: (1) repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal; (2) such incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal caused the child to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence necessary for his physical or mental well-being; and (3) the causes of the incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal cannot or will not be remedied. See In re Adoption of M.E.P., 825 A.2d 1266, 1272 (Pa.Super. 2003).

In In re Adoption of S.P., supra, our Supreme Court addressed the relevance of incarceration in termination decisions under § 2511(a)(2). In S.P., the Court held that "incarceration is a factor, and indeed can be a determinative factor, in a court's conclusion that grounds for termination exist under § 2511(a)(2) where the repeated and continued incapacity of a parent due to incarceration has caused the child to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence and that the causes of the incapacity cannot or will not be remedied." Id. at 829. Further, the Court held that "the length of the remaining confinement can be considered as highly relevant to whether 'the conditions and causes of the incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal cannot or will not be remedied by the parent, ' sufficient to provide grounds for termination pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(2)." Id. at 830.

With respect to § 2511(b), this Court has explained the requisite analysis as follows:

Subsection 2511(b) focuses on whether termination of parental rights would best serve the developmental, physical, and emotional needs and welfare of the child. In In re C.M.S., 884 A.2d 1284, 1287 (Pa.Super. 2005), this Court stated, "Intangibles such as love, comfort, security, and stability are involved in the inquiry into the needs and welfare of the child." In addition, we instructed that the trial 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. However, in cases where there is no evidence of a bond between a parent and child, it is reasonable to infer that no bond exists. In re K.Z.S., 946 A.2d 753, 762-63 (Pa.Super. 2008). Accordingly, the extent of the bond-effect analysis necessarily depends on the circumstances of the particular case. Id. at 63.

In re Adoption of J.M., 991 A.2d 321, 324 (Pa.Super. 2010).

We begin by addressing Father's second issue on appeal. Father argues the record evidence was insufficient to warrant termination under § 2511(a)(2) because he learned in June of 2012 that he is M.P.'s natural father, and he subsequently utilized all prison resources to maintain his relationship with M.P. Further, Father argues he will be able to maintain appropriate housing after his release from a halfway house. Therefore, he argues the causes of his incapacity to provide M.P. with essential parental care, control or subsistence necessary for her physical or mental well-being will be remedied. We disagree.

The testimonial evidence revealed that Father has never met M.P. N.T., 11/29/12, at 155. Father was incarcerated on November 27, 2010, which was prior to M.P.'s birth. Id. at 86. Father testified that he pled guilty to simple assault of C.J.P. and T.J.P. Id. at 130. He testified that C.J.P. and T.J.P were ages two and four when he physically assaulted them. Id. at 142. On March 23, 2011, he was sentenced to a term of incarceration of eighteen to thirty-six months, with credit for time served. Id. at 18-19. Father's maximum release date is November of 2013. Id. at 130. Father anticipated serving parole in a halfway house for two and one-half months. Id. at 131, 154. In addition, Father's sentence included the restriction of no unsupervised contact with any child, including, but not limited to, M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. Id. at 19, 153. While in prison, Father completed a violence prevention program, domestic batterer's intervention program, and a seven-month job training program in carpentry. Id. at 131.

Father testified that, at some time during his incarceration, Mother informed him that she had sexual relations with another man. Id. at 143. Father testified he had doubts that he was M.P.'s father until June of 2012, when a paternity test revealed his daughter's parentage. Id. at 129, 152.

To the extent Father argues his parental rights should not be terminated because he did not learn that M.P. was his progeny until June of 2012, we conclude this argument is of no consequence to the termination of parental rights pursuant to § 2511(a)(2) where Father has been incarcerated for the entirety of M.P.'s life. Moreover, the length of Father's remaining confinement was approximately one year from the date of the termination hearing. In addition, Father anticipated being paroled and serving two and one-half months in a halfway house. M.P. was nearly two years old at the time of the termination hearing, and she had never met Father. As such, the testimonial evidence demonstrated that Father's repeated and continued incapacity due to his incarceration has caused M.P. to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence, and that the causes of Father's incapacity cannot or will not be remedied. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in terminating Father's parental rights pursuant to § 2511(a)(2).

In his final issue, Father argues the evidence was insufficient to support the termination of his parental rights pursuant to § 2511(b). Specifically, Father argues there was no bonding assessment performed with respect to him and M.P.; therefore, "it cannot be established whether the termination of [his] parental rights would have a negative impact on [M.P.]" Father's brief at 14. Again, we disagree.

It is well established that § 2511(b) does not require a formal bonding evaluation. See In re Z.P., 994 A.2d 1108, 1121 (Pa.Super. 2010); see also In re K.K.R.-S., 958 A.2d 529, 533 (Pa.Super. 2008). Further, in this case, there is no record evidence of a bond between Father and M.P. Indeed, because M.P. has never seen Father, it is reasonable to infer that no bond exists. See In re Adoption of J.M., supra. As such, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that terminating Father's parental rights would best serve the developmental, physical, and emotional needs and welfare of M.P. Father's complaint fails.

Turning to Mother's issues on appeal, we first review her second issue wherein she argues the record evidence is insufficient to support termination pursuant to § 2511(a)(2) because she has completed services while incarcerated and, upon release from prison, she intends to become employed and locate suitable housing. We reject Mother's argument.

As previously noted, Mother became incarcerated on August 1, 2012 for noncompliance with her probation. N.T., 11/29/12, at 26. She remained incarcerated at the time of the termination hearing. Her minimum release date was early February of 2013, and her maximum release date was July 31, 2013. Id. at 27, 84. Mother testified that, upon her release from prison, she will reside with Maternal Grandmother until she obtains employment. Id. at 83. Mother believes she would be in a position to resume custody of M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. within six months of her release from prison. Id.

The trial court considered Mother's compliance with her FSP goals after the children's adjudication and prior to her incarceration. The court set forth the following findings regarding Mother's conduct in the eight months before her incarceration, which is supported by the testimonial evidence:

Mother did not successfully complete drug and alcohol treatment as ordered. Mother failed to appear for court sessions of the accelerated permanency treatment program on two occasions and was unsuccessfully discharged from the program. Mother complied only minimally with random drug screens, having missed a number of them, and having tested positive in May, June and August of 2012 for benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates and marijuana. . . . Mother also failed to complete non-offending education for physical abuse [of] the children, [C.J.P.] and [T.J.P.], suffered while in Mother's custody. Mother had been . . . indicated as a perpetrator of abuse by omission for [C.J.P.] and [T.J.P.], but failed to complete non-offender's treatment despite the fact that non-offending education had been made available to her as early as March 8, 2011. In addition, in the seven months preceding her incarceration in August 2012, Mother visited the children on only seven occasions, despite having been offered 18 visits. During the last three or four months prior to her incarceration, she visited the children only one time. Mother's reasons for failing to show for visits included her concern for being picked up on a bench warrant. . . . Finally, Mother was never able to secure stable and appropriate housing and [a] verifiable source of legal income.

Trial Court Opinion, 4/2/13, at 2-3 (citations to record omitted) (footnotes omitted).

Mother's plan to live with Maternal Grandmother is unrealistic. Ms. McKlveen, the Agency caseworker, testified that Maternal Grandmother's home is not appropriate for M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. due to drug use by household members and because the home is small and overcrowded. N.T., 11/29/12, at 30-31. In addition, Maternal Grandmother is an indicated perpetrator of sexual abuse by omission involving Mother, presumably when she was a minor, and one of her other children. Id. at 31, 84-85.

Likewise, the record belies Mother's insinuation that she has remedied the primary cause of her parental incapacity, her drug use. Although Mother testified that, while incarcerated, she has participated in "NA/AA and GED" services, n.t., 11/29/12, at 82, on cross-examination by the Agency's counsel, she explained that her issues with substance abuse are entrenched. The following exchange is relevant.

Q. How long have you been addicted to drugs?
A. For almost three years.
Q. . . . So for three years you really haven't been able to be an effective mother for these children?
A. I have had clean times, sir.
Q. You had clean times.
A. Yes.
Q. But you have generally been addicted to drugs?
A. Yes.
Q. What is your drug of choice?
A. Opiates.

Id. at 91. Hence, rather than supporting an inference of sobriety, Mother's testimony reveals that her drug addiction precluded her from performing parental duties for the better part of three years.

Moreover, contrary to Mother's assertion, we observe that, unlike in Father's case, the trial court did not find Mother's incarceration a determinative factor in terminating her parental rights. Rather, the court concluded that Mother failed to remedy her continued struggle with drug abuse, attended visitation inconsistently, and was incapable of satisfying her children's basic needs. Specifically, the court reasoned,

[Mother] has shown an incapacity to parent by virtue of her continued drug use, her failure to consistently visit with the children, and her failure to provide for their basic needs, including housing and a source of income by which to meet their continued needs. Further, Mother will not remedy the causes of her parental incapacity, admitting as late as the date of the termination that she has no verifiable source of income and no housing. As noted, Mother continued to struggle with drug use, testing positive during the pendency of months prior to the petition for termination being filed.

Trial Court Opinion, 4/2/13, at 8.

The testimonial evidence demonstrates that Mother's repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal due to her drug use and failure to comply with her FSP goals has caused M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence, and the causes of Mother's incapacity cannot or will not be remedied. Therefore, we discern no abuse of discretion by the court in terminating Mother's parental rights pursuant to § 2511(a)(2).

In her final issue, Mother argues the record evidence was insufficient to terminate her parental rights pursuant to § 2511(b). Specifically, Mother argues the bonding assessment performed by Ms. Patterson with respect to C.J.P. and T.J.P., who were ages four and six at the time of the hearing, was insufficient since it did not include an interview with Mother and because it did not include M.P. We disagree.

We have emphasized that while a parent's emotional bond with his or her child is a major aspect of the subsection 2511(b) best-interest analysis, it is nonetheless only one of many factors to be considered by the trial court when determining what is in the best interest of the child. In re K.K.R.-S., supra at 533-536. The mere existence of an emotional bond does not preclude the termination of parental rights. See In re T.D., 949 A.2d 910 (Pa.Super. 2008) (trial court's decision to terminate parents' parental rights was affirmed where court balanced strong emotional bond against parents' inability to serve needs of child). Rather, the trial court must examine the status of the bond to determine whether its termination "would destroy an existing, necessary and beneficial relationship." In re Adoption of T.B.B., 835 A.2d 387, 397 (Pa.Super. 2003). Moreover, as we explained in In re K.Z.S., supra at 763 (emphasis omitted),

In addition to a bond examination, the court may equally emphasize the safety needs of the child under subsection (b), particularly in cases involving physical or sexual abuse, severe child neglect or abandonment, or children with special needs. The trial court should also examine the intangibles such as the love, comfort, security and stability the child might have with the foster parent. Another consideration is the importance of continuity of relationships to the child and whether the parent child bond, if it exists, can be severed without detrimental effects on the child. All of these factors can contribute to the inquiry about the needs and welfare of the child.

See also In re A.S., 11 A.3d 473, 483 (Pa.Super. 2010) (orphans' court can emphasize safety needs, consider intangibles, such as love, comfort, security, and stability child might have with the foster parent, and importance of continuity of existing relationships).

Herein, the trial court proffered the following needs-and-welfare analysis pursuant to subsection 2511(b).

The testimony of Ms. McKlveen and Ms. Patterson supports the idea that the children in the instant case need permanency and stability, and that neither of the parents have been able to provide permanency or stability. The testimony that the parents have not visited frequently (or in the case of [Father], at all) is evidence that if there was a bond between Mother and the children, it has been harmed by Mother's failure to act in a way consistent with preserving the bond. Further, the Court finds that Ms. McKlveen's observations with regard to the improvement of the children's behaviors without parental contact is evidence that the educational and developmental needs of the children will not be harmed by terminating parental rights.
The Court does not lightly consider terminating parental rights in this or in any case. Simply put, the Court cannot provide the parents in the instant case any additional latitude with regard to meeting the needs of the children. This is out of consideration for the needs and welfare of the children, who, as noted by Ms. Patterson, require stability and permanency in order to thrive and to live happy and productive lives. For these reasons, as well as the establishment of grounds for termination as explained above, the Court has terminated the rights of Mother and Father[.]

Trial Court Opinion, 4/2/13, at 9.

The certified record sustains the trial court's determination. During the evidentiary hearing, Ms. Patterson testified that she was hired by the Agency to perform a bonding attachment evaluation for C.J.P. and T.J.P. regarding their bond with Mother. N.T., 11/29/12, at 6, 8. Ms. Patterson observed C.J.P. and T.J.P. in their foster home on July 30, 2012, and she interviewed their foster mother. Id. at 8-9. She did not interview Mother because Mother was incarcerated. Id. at 8. Nevertheless, she posited that Mother's minimal contact with the children would "virtually eliminate any bond or attachment that the children may have had with [her]." Id. at 13. Likewise, she testified that the foster mother "indicated that [C.J.P.] had never inquired about his mother in between visits. . . . The foster mother indicated that [T.J.P.] wants to tell the Judge to tell her mother to stop taking drugs." Id. at 11.

Ms. Patterson relayed that the foster home was a "very healthy" environment for C.J.P. and T.J.P., and she stated that she "saw the beginnings of a bond and attachment with both children and foster mother." Id. at 14. Further, Ms. Patterson testified on direct examination that C.J.P. and T.J.P "were doing very well in the care of their foster mother. They were responding to her approaches towards them, and certainly were making a lot of progress in many areas, developmentally and behaviorally." Id. at 13.

We recognize that Ms. Patterson did not express an opinion with respect to the nature and extent of bond between Mother and M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. Nevertheless, we reject Mother's argument that the record evidence was insufficient on this basis. We reiterate that § 2511(b) does not require a formal bonding evaluation. See In re Z.P., supra. Moreover, there is sufficient testimonial evidence in this case without a bonding assessment to demonstrate that terminating Mother's parental rights will serve the developmental, physical and emotional needs and welfare of M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P.

Ms. McKlveen testified that C.J.P. and T.J.P. exhibited physically aggressive behavior and temper tantrums shortly before visitation with Mother and following their visits with her. N.T., 11/29/12, at 34-35. However, these behaviors subsided after the visitations with Mother ceased during August of 2012:

[C.J.P.'s] behaviors have turned around. He is a happy, calm, smiling little boy. He doesn't have outbursts in public. He doesn't have physical aggression towards adults or his siblings. [T.J.P.'s] physical aggression has decreased. Her outbursts in the public at this time have decreased. She's not in trouble at school. She's not as physically aggressive towards foster mother or her siblings.

Id. at 35-36. As such, Ms. McKlveen testified that it is in the best interest of C.J.P. and T.J.P. to terminate Mother's parental rights and seek permanency for them. Id. at 39. Likewise, she testified it is in the best interest of M.P., the youngest child, to terminate Mother's parental rights. Id. M.P. was twenty-three months old at the time of the termination hearing. Ms. McKlveen testified on direct examination that M.P. has "adjusted very well" in her foster placement, and that "[t]here have been no concerns with [her]." Id. at 42.

Mindful that the needs and welfare analysis is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and with consideration of both the nature and extent of the children's relationships with Mother, the intangible factors that we outlined in In re K.Z.S., supra and In re A.S., supra, such as the love, comfort, security, and stability the children enjoy with their foster family, and the importance of continuing those beneficial relationships upon their emotional and developmental well-being, we find sufficient evidence in the certified record to sustain the trial court's determination. As there is no evidence of a parent-child bond between Mother and M.P., it is reasonable to infer that no such bond exists. Likewise, to the extent some meager bond exists between Mother and the older children, despite her prolonged lack of contact, the certified record demonstrates that terminating Mother's parental rights would best serve their developmental, physical, and emotional needs and welfare.

Accordingly, for all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm the orders terminating Father's parental rights to M.P. and Mother's parental rights to M.P., C.J.P., and T.J.P. pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511(a)(2) and (b).

Orders affirmed.


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