IN THE INTEREST OF: R.A.A., III, A MINOR APPEAL OF: R.A., JR., FATHER
Appeal from the Orders Entered September 18, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Family Court at No(s): CP-51-AP-0000447-2012 CP-51-DP-0000384-2011
BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., WECHT and STRASSBURGER, [*] JJ.
R.A., Jr. (Father) appeals from orders entered on September 18, 2013. One of the orders Father challenges terminated involuntarily his parental rights to R.A., III (Child) (born in August of 2010). The other order Father challenges changed Child's goal to adoption. We affirm.
The trial court summarized the background underlying this matter in the following manner.
On February 28, 2011, the Department of Human Services (DHS) received a General Protective Services (GPS) report alleging that Mother left [Child] in the care of maternal aunt and failed to return. The report further alleged that [Child], who was six months old, had tested positive for heroin at the time of his birth and spent two months in the hospital suffering from withdrawal symptoms, acid reflux and diarrhea. The report alleged that Mother had a criminal record and a history of substance abuse, and Father had just been released from prison and was possibly homeless, but was not involved in [Child's] care. The GPS Report was substantiated.
DHS obtained an Order of Protective Custody (OPC) on February 28, 2011, and [Child] remained in the care of maternal aunt. A Shelter Care hearing was held on March 2, 2011 at which time the OPC was lifted, and [Child] was committed to DHS on a temporary basis. Father was referred to the Clinical Evaluation Unit (CEU) for an assessment and screen and was to have supervised visits at the agency.
Mother was arrested on March 16, 2011 and subsequently pled guilty to robbery, inflicting and threatening bodily harm and conspiracy for which she received a sentence of three to five years [of incarceration]. The [c]ourt's [o]rder of June 9, 2011 noted that Father might be incarcerated, and DHS was to conduct a Parent Locator/Prison Search as to Father. On July 5, 2011, DHS held the initial Family Service Plan (FSP) meeting, at which time the objectives for Father were to participate in an evaluation for drug and alcohol abuse and comply with the treatment recommendations of the provider. Later, Father's objectives were revised to include: 1) to meet with a parenting support group on a weekly basis and complete a parenting education program; 2) to learn expected behaviors for his child; 3) to locate and occupy suitable housing; and 4) to complete job training and/or to seek and maintain employment and/or complete a GED Program. On September 16, 2011, DHS was ordered to make outreach to parents, and the [o]rder of the [c]ourt further specified that visitation with parents in prison was only to occur if [C]hild's pediatrician was in agreement.
The Permanency Review Order of November 29, 2011 stated that Father was residing with paternal grandmother and was enrolled in a Connection Training Program offering drug and alcohol treatment and job skills training. Father was referred to the CEU for a forthwith screen and assessment. Father was also referred for parenting classes and offered supervised visits with [Child], which could be modified by agreement of the parties. DHS was to conduct clearances on all individuals residing in grandmother's home and invite Father to attend [C]hild's medical appointments.
On February 28, 2012, the [c]ourt [o]rder indicated that Father had not been visiting consistently, but DHS was to continue to make outreach to Father. Father was ordered to the CEU for a forthwith screen and assessment. On May 1, 2012, the [c]ourt noted that Father was incarcerated at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, and Father had specifically requested that no visitation occur. Father was referred to the CEU for a forthwith screen and assessment upon his release, and DHS was ordered to assist Father with obtaining drug and alcohol treatment in prison if appropriate. [DHS filed the petition to terminate involuntarily Father's parental rights on September 17, 2012.] According to the [c]ourt [o]rder of December 17, 2012, Father was incarcerated at SCI Camp Hill and was not interested in voluntarily relinquishing his parental rights. On June 4, 2013, the [c]ourt [o]rder noted that Father was still incarcerated, had one visit with his child since the last court date, and was to be offered once monthly visits at the prison.
A Contested Goal Change hearing was held on September 18, 2013, and the[c]ourt found clear and convincing evidence to terminate Father's parental rights pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 2511(a)(1), (2), (5) [and] (8) and further found that pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 2511(b), adoption would be in the best interest of [Child].
Trial Court Opinion, 10/31/2013, at 2-5 (citations omitted).
Father timely filed a notice of appeal and concurrently filed a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a)(2)(i) statement. The trial court subsequently issued an opinion. In his brief to this Court, Father contends that the trial court erred by terminating his parental rights because DHS failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that termination of his parental rights was proper pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. §§ ...