Mother loses parental rights

The decision of a Blair County judge to terminate the parental rights of a Blair County woman with a history of drug abuse has been upheld by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

A three-judge panel on Thursday ruled that Judge Timothy M. Sullivan, who presides over the county’s Family Drug Court, correctly determined that it would be in the best interest of the youngster, a girl, to terminate her mother’s rights and allow her to be adopted by foster parents.

“We find competent evidence that the termination of parental rights would be in the child’s best interest. … We find competent evidence in the record that supports the trial court’s credibility,” according to the opinion issued by Judges Jack A. Panella, Judith Ference Olson and John L. Musmanno.

The Superior Court panel concluded that Sullivan did not abuse his discretion in making his decision.

The Blair County and Superior Courts were faced with a mother who, because of her drug abuse and the criminality associated with it, gave up her parental rights to two older children.

But, in the recent case before the judges, the mother fought to retain her parental rights, stating she had a bond with the child, maintained contact with her and was clear of drugs and doing well for many months.

The Superior Court stated, “While a mother may love a child, a parent’s own feelings of love and affection for a child, alone, will not preclude termination of parental rights.”

It cited a precedential case that stated, “Indeed, a child’s life cannot be put on hold in the hope that [a parent] will summon the ability to handle the responsibilities of parenting.”

An attorney for the foster parents has filed an intention to adopt the child.

The Blair County Court in its decision pointed out both the child’s mother and father had served “multiple incarcerations” and that the mother had mental health issues, and there was instability in the home.

Both the mother and child tested positive for drugs at the child’s birth.

Sullivan ruled the mother is motivated to be reunited with her child, but he reasoned that “motivation would derive from the fact that she has pending drug-related charges against her and will face a more serious penalty if she violates the terms of the Adult Drug Court Program.”

The father’s parental rights were also terminated, but he did not appeal the county court’s decision.

The Superior Court opinion refers to the parents and child only by their initials and does not indicate their place of residence.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray can be reached at 946-7468.