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[U] In re Adoption of J.T.D.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 25, 2014

IN RE: ADOPTION OF: J.T.D., JR., MINOR APPEAL OF: C.D., MOTHER

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Decree August 15, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County Orphans' Court at No(s): A-7716

BEFORE: MUNDY, J., OLSON, J., and STABILE, J.

MEMORANDUM

MUNDY, J.

Appellant, C.D. (Mother), appeals from the August 15, 2013 decree involuntarily terminating her parental rights to her son, J.T.D., Jr.[1] After careful review, we affirm.

The trial court summarized the factual history of this case as follows.

The minor child, J.T.D., Jr.[, ] was born [i]n July [] 2007. J.T.D., Jr.[, ] is currently six years old. Th[is] appeal involves the proposed termination of Mother's parental rights.
It is unrebutted that [J.T.D., Jr., ] has been in placement and therefore removed from the care of Father and Mother since [J.T.D., Jr.'s, ] birth and placed with [C.H. (Maternal Grandmother)]. [Maternal] Grandmother testified that J.T.D., Jr.[, ] had been living with her [from a] few days after his birth until the present. According to [Maternal] Grandmother, after [J.T.D., Jr., ] was born, a dependency hearing was held, and Children and Youth placed [J.T.D., Jr., ] in foster care. According to [Maternal] Grandmother, the dependency was terminated in April of 2008 due to the parents not complying with services directed by Children and Youth. [Maternal] Grandmother has had physical and legal custody of [J.T.D., Jr., ] until the present. According to [Maternal] Grandmother, … the natural parents resided with her for approximately 6-7 months after [J.T.D., Jr.'s, ] birth. After that time[-]period, only [J.T.D., Jr., ] resided with her and the natural parents moved out. [Maternal] Grandmother testified that after the natural parents moved out [of her home], they rarely visited [J.T.D., Jr.]

Trial Court Opinion, 10/11/13, at 2-3 (citations to transcript omitted).

On November 11, 2010, Maternal Grandmother petitioned to involuntarily terminate Mother and Father's parental rights pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(1) and (b). On March 30, 2011, Maternal Grandmother filed an amended petition to terminate Mother and Father's parental rights pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(1)-(2), (5), (8), and (b). On October 18, 2012, the trial court appointed a guardian ad litem to represent J.T.D., Jr.'s, interests.

The trial court held a hearing on Maternal Grandmother's petition on August 14, 2013. Despite amending her petition to include multiple subsections of Section 2511(a), Maternal Grandmother proceeded solely on subsection 2511(a)(1) and (b). During the hearing, Maternal Grandmother, Father, and Mother testified. Thereafter, on August 15, 2013, the trial court entered decrees terminating Mother and Father's parental rights. On September 16, 2013, Mother filed a timely notice of appeal along with her concise statement of matters complained of on appeal pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 1925(a)(2)(i).[2]

On appeal, Mother raises the following issues for our review.

I. Whether the trial court erred in finding that the elements of termination with respect to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(1) and 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(b) were proven through clear and convincing evidence?
II. Whether the trial court erred in finding there was sufficient evidence presented at trial?

Mother's Brief at 3.

As developed within Mother's brief, the issues that she presents on appeal are indistinguishable from one another. Instantly, Mother argues that the trial court erred in terminating her parental rights because Maternal Grandmother did not present clear and convincing evidence to support the termination. Id. at 7-8. Accordingly, we will address Mother's issues concomitantly.

Turning to the basis of Mother's argument, she claims the trial court erroneously terminated her parental rights pursuant to Section 2511(a)(1) for the reasons that follow.

[Mother has been] confronted with a number of obstacles in life. She has been diagnosed [as] bipolar[] and [with] paranoid schizophrenia. She is physically disabled and has a metal rod in her back. As a result, she collects Social Security Disability and lives on a fixed income. [Mother] does not own a motor vehicle and must either walk or rely on the public bus. She did not even have a bicycle as that was taken from her. The testimony painted a clear picture that [Mother] did not have the financial means to pay support, buy gifts and clothing for [J.T.D., Jr.], or to take him on vacation.
Despite these unfortunate obstacles in life, [Mother] made attempts to visit [J.T.D., Jr.] However, these attempts appear to have been met with additional obstacles. When [Mother] visited [J.T.D., Jr., ] at [Maternal] Grandmother's house, her family would start fights with her. She did not feel welcome in her own mother's house. There were occasions when [Mother] would attempt to visit [J.T.D., Jr.], but he was not even there. [Mother] was not allowed to go to day care with [J.T.D., Jr.] She was never invited to any of [J.T.D., Jr.'s, ] doctor appointments after his first appointment. Unlike [Mother]'s mental and physical handicaps, these obstacles were ...

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