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In re M.Z.T.M.W.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

May 17, 2017

IN RE: M.Z.T.M.W., A MINOR APPEAL OF: M.W., BIRTH MOTHER IN RE: M.Z.T.W., A MINOR APPEAL OF: M.W., BIRTH MOTHER

         Appeal from the Decree November 17, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Orphans' Court at Nos. CP-02-AP-0000038-2016, CP-02-AP-0000039-2016.

          BEFORE: PANELLA, STABILE, JJ., and STEVENS, [*] P.J.E.

          OPINION

          STABILE, J.

         M.W. ("Mother") appeals from the decrees entered November 17, 2016, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, which involuntarily terminated her parental rights to her twin sons, M.Z.T.M.W. and M.Z.T.W., born in April 2015.[1] After careful review, we affirm.

         The record reveals that Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families ("CYF") has a lengthy history of involvement with Mother, beginning in 1999. N.T., 11/17/2016, at 9. M.Z.T.M.W. and M.Z.T.W. are Mother's seventh and eighth children, and Mother's parental rights with respect to her previous six children have already been terminated.[2] Id. at 10. M.Z.T.M.W. And M.Z.T.W. entered foster care immediately after being discharged from the hospital, due to Mother's history of mental health issues, parental incapacity, drug and alcohol concerns, and intellectual disabilities. Id. at 9, 11, 28-29. The children have resided in the same pre-adoptive foster home since June 3, 2015. Id. at 28-29. They were adjudicated dependent on June 23, 2015, and aggravated circumstances were found that same day. Id. at 9, 26.

         On March 2, 2016, CYF filed petitions to involuntarily terminate Mother's parental rights to M.Z.T.M.W. and M.Z.T.W. The orphans' court conducted a termination hearing on November 17, 2016. Following the hearing, the court entered decrees terminating Mother parental rights. Mother timely filed notices of appeal on December 16, 2016, along with concise statements of errors complained of on appeal.

         When reviewing an appeal from a decree terminating parental rights, we apply the following standard of review.

The standard of review in termination of parental rights cases requires appellate courts 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. A decision may be reversed for an abuse of discretion only upon demonstration of manifest unreasonableness, partiality, prejudice, bias, or ill-will. The trial court's decision, however, should not be reversed merely because the record would support a different result. We have previously emphasized our deference to trial courts that often have first-hand observations of the parties spanning multiple hearings.

In re T.S.M., 71 A.3d 251, 267 (Pa. 2013) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         Termination of parental rights is governed by Section 2511 of the Adoption Act, 23 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 2101-2938, which requires a bifurcated analysis.

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) (citations omitted).

         In this case, the orphans' court terminated Mother's parental rights pursuant to Sections 2511(a)(2), (5), 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 ...


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