Every day, the Halverson siblings wonder if their 3-year-old sister will finally be allowed to join their family.
Damon and Aleeah's long wait might end soon -- or the hundreds of miles that separate their home near Brainerd, Minn., from their sister's foster home in Nebraska might become a permanent barrier. The siblings are at the heart of a Nebraska court battle that could establish a legal precedent on whether siblings have a right to live together if they become wards of the state.
Damon, 8, and Aleeah, 7, were adopted seven years ago by Jeff and Karen Halverson of Staples, Minn. Their sister Meridian has been in the Nebraska foster care system since her mother was arrested there for drunken driving in 2007.
The Halversons are trying to adopt the girl, but the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services believes Meridian shouldn't be uprooted from the foster family she has lived with for more than two years. In 2010, a juvenile court judge agreed, saying Meridian's foster parents "have loved and cared for her as if she were their own child."
The case, which was argued before the Nebraska Supreme Court in March, is the first test of a 2008 federal law aimed at keeping siblings together, according to several experts monitoring the case.