Stuart I. Greenberg, Monroe, for petitioner.
Richard B. Golden, County Attorney of Orange County, Goshen (Peter Schwarz of counsel), for respondent.
Children's Rights Society, Inc., Goshen (Kim Pavlovic of counsel), Law Guardian.
Andrew P. Bivona, J.
The above-named petitioner filed a petition with this Court seeking an order of custody of Kiersten H. born February 26, 2000, of whom he was recently adjudicated to be the father. The petitioner was represented by Stuart Greenberg, Esq., the Department of Social Services was represented by Peter Schwarz, Esq., Assistant County Attorney, and the Law Guardian assigned by the Court was Kim Pavlovic, Esq., of the Children's Rights Society, Inc.
The matter came on for trial over a period of one week, March 7, 2001, March 9, 2001, March 12, 2001 and March 13, 2001. There were five witnesses who were sworn and gave testimony in this matter. Based upon that testimony and the evidence submitted, this Court makes the following factual determinations and decisions on the law:
Robert S., the petitioner in this matter, and Dawn H. were involved in a relationship which produced a child. They were never married nor did they ever live together. In her testimony before the Court Ms. H. stated that when Robert S. was told of the pregnancy, he encouraged her to have an abortion, to give the child up for adoption or to sell the child. Therefore, when Ms. H. was three months pregnant, she severed her relationship with the petitioner. Mr. S. acknowledges that Ms. H. advised him of the pregnancy.
When Ms. H. gave birth to the child on February 26, 2000, she indicated to the social worker at the hospital that she was prepared to give the child up for adoption. The hospital then contacted the Orange County Department of Social Services who assigned caseworker Marjorie Levinson to the mother and child. Mrs. Levinson contacted Ms. H. the day after the child's birth and ascertained that she did in fact wish to give up the child. Initially the child was placed in foster care pending the mother's final determination regarding the adoption and a surrender to foster care was signed. Subsequently, the judicial surrender for adoption was signed in open court.
As part of her duties, Mrs. Levinson also gathered what little information Ms. H. had concerning the father of the child. The Department of Social Services thereafter petitioned this Court to approve the mother's surrender instruments. Notice of both proceedings, as is required by Social Services Law § 384-c (2),
resulted in Mr. S. being given notice that the child was being placed and of his opportunity to appear and be heard regarding his position on the surrender for foster care and the subsequent surrender for adoption. Two " Notice to Non-Signatory ...