IN RE: R.L., MINOR CHILD APPEAL OF: WASHINGTON COUNTY CHILDREN AND YOUTH SOCIAL SERVICES AGENCY
from the Order Entered May 18, 2017 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Washington County Orphans' Court at No(s):
BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., DUBOW, J., and PLATT [*], J.
Washington County Children and Youth Social Services Agency
("Agency"), appeals from the May 18, 2017 Order
entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County
Orphans' Court, which dismissed the Petition for
Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights and Consent to
Adoption ("Petition for Voluntary Relinquishment")
signed by R.L. ("Father") based on Father's
verbal revocation of his consent made 72 days after he
executed the consent to adoption. After careful review, we
conclude that, pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. §2711(c),
Father's revocation was untimely. We, thus, vacate the
Order and remand with instructions.
child R.L. ("Child") was born in December 2015 and
placed with the Agency two days after birth. On March 7,
2017, Father and V.C. ("Mother") both signed
Petitions for Voluntary Relinquishment.
18, 2017, the trial court held a hearing to confirm consent
and terminate parental rights. At the hearing, Mother
remained willing to terminate her parental rights to Child.
However, through counsel, Father verbally informed the trial
court that he no longer wanted to terminate his parental
rights and wanted to revoke his consent. The Agency informed
the trial court that Father had signed the Petition for
Voluntary Relinquishment more than thirty days prior to the
hearing and had not provided any written notice that he
intended to revoke his consent as required by 42 Pa.C.S.
§ 2711(c). The trial court, over the Agency's
objection, dismissed Father's Petition for Voluntary
Relinquishment based on the fact that Father no longer
consented to Child's adoption.
Agency timely appealed. Both the Agency and the trial court
complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.
Agency raises the following issues on appeal:
1. Did the trial court err in dismissing the above referenced
action on May 18, 2017, based upon advice from counsel for
biological father that his client no longer consented to
adoption of the minor child when biological father executed a
[Petition for Voluntary Relinquishment] on March 7, 2017, and
failed to revoke or challenge the consent pursuant to 23
[Pa.C.S.] § 2711(c)?
2. Did the trial court err by accepting biological
father's verbal request to revoke his [Petition for
Voluntary Relinquishment] more than 30 days after the
execution of the consent, in violation of 23 [Pa.C.S.] §
Brief at 2.
review a revocation of consent to adoption in relation to a
voluntary relinquishment of parental rights for an abuse of
discretion or legal error. In re C.M.C., 140 A.3d
699, 704-05 (Pa. Super. 2016). We must determine whether the
record is free from legal error and the court's factual
findings are supported by the evidence. Id.
the Agency avers that the trial court erred when it entered
an Order dismissing Father's Petition for Voluntary
Relinquishment based on Father's verbal request to revoke
his consent to adoption, which was made in violation of the
revocation timeline and procedure provided for in 23 Pa.C.S.
§ 2711(c). Agency's Brief at 5. We agree.
2711 of the Adoption Act sets forth the requirements for a
consent to adoption and clearly outlines the procedure and
timeframes for revoking a voluntary consent to adoption.
See 23 Pa.C.S. 2711. Section 2711(c) unequivocally
states that "[a] consent to an adoption may only be
revoked as set forth in this subsection, " and
"[t]he revocation of a consent shall be in writing and
shall be served upon the agency or adult to whom the child
was relinquished." 23 Pa.C.S. § 2711(c). Further,
"[f]or a consent to an adoption executed by a birth
father or a putative father, the consent is
irrevocable more than 30 days after the
birth of the child or the execution of the consent, whichever