A 6-year-old girl with a sliver of Native-American heritage was removed from her longtime South California foster home on Monday under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which “seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families.”
Lexi, who desperately clung to her father when the authorities came to retrieve her, is 1.56 percent Choctaw Native American. She lived with Santa Clarita couple Rusty and Summer Page since the age of 2.
The court documents show her biological parents struggled with substance abuse. Her father had a criminal history and had never lived on a Choctaw reservation or had any ties to the tribe, but based on his ancestry, the officials determined Lexi is 1/64th Choctaw.
The Pages, who also have three biological children, took in Lexi in December 2011 after her previous foster family left her with a black eye and bruises. The same year her “extended” family in Utah found out about her placement and expressed “interest in adopting” her, according to the reports.
In 2014, the California Court of Appeals said Lexi could stay with the Pages and both the families could continue to fight for her custody. However, earlier this month, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services ordered Lexi placed with the Utah family in accordance with the federal act.
After losing the case, the Page family took to the Internet with an online petition "Keep Lexi Home," addressing it to several California and LA DCFS officials.
“There is a 6-year-old little girl who is going to be ripped away from the only family that she has ever known. Her name is Lexi,” the petition said. “To Lexi this family is her everything — her mommy, daddy and brother and sisters.”
The petition soon went viral, leading hundreds of supporters to surround the Pages' home in order to prevent the authorities from snatching the young girl away from her loving family.
Unfortunately, none of their efforts worked.
“Our family is so incredibly devastated. Our hearts are broken and we are trying to make sense of everything that has happened with our three other children who witnessed their sister Lexi forcefully ripped away from our family by strangers,” the distraught family said in a statement. “But nobody could possibly be more devastated than our 6-year-old daughter who found herself restrained in a car and driven away to go and live in a foreign place hundreds of miles from her family, friends, teachers, home and life.”
The girl will live with relatives in Utah whom she had never even seen before. The Pages were ready to give them legal visitation rights but they were only interested in full legal custody.
"The purpose of foster care is to provide temporary care for children ... not to fast-track the creation of new families when there is extended family available who want to care for the child,” said the National Indian Child Welfare Association, arguing the decision to re-place Lexi was the right one. “The foster family was well aware years ago this girl is an Indian child, whose case is subject to the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act.”
#KeepLexiHome because there is absolutely no reason why a child must be taken away from a loving & safe family— torbear, m.d. (@torialandy_) March 22, 2016
That child's birth family abandoned her her family chose to love her as their own it's absolutely disgusting what has happened #keeplexihome— ginger ale (@antoinettemh4) March 22, 2016
#keeplexihome No one has the right to take a child out of a perfectly safe home. This is am unacceptable system and we need a change.— erin (@erin4prezz) March 22, 2016
As of writing this, the petition to keep Lexi with the Pages acquired more than 53,000 signatures.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters