A new state law that goes into effect July 1st gives kids in the foster care system the right to see their siblings if they’re separated into different homes. That’s what happened to 22-year-old Gabriel Meints of Ames when he was taken out of his Clear Lake foster home.
"I was in foster care for several years and my biological sister and I actually traveled around for six years together in foster care," he says. "I was unexpectedly removed from the home and wasn’t able to say good-bye — no closure at all. That was 13 years ago and I haven’t seen her since." His little sister will graduating from high school this year.
"I miss her tremendously," Meints says. "I still think about her every day." Seventeen-year-old Kayla Pettit of Norwalk hasn’t seen her little brother, Marcus, for eight years. He’s now 13. Pettit says her life would have been a lot different if the law had been in effect eight years ago.
"I’d be able to see him grow up," she says. "I’d be able to be there with him with the hard times. I’d be able to be his big sister." She became emotional when a reporter asked her what she’d like to say to her little brother. "Marcus, I’m here for you and I love you," she said, with tears welling in her eyes. Pettit and Meintz were on hand this morning as Governor Chet Culver signed the bill into law which stipulates that foster kids who’re separated from their blood siblings have the right to visit with their kin.
"For many of these children, it is the only family bond that they will maintain," the governor said just before signing the bill into law.