Lexi, a 6-year-old foster child, was seized from the family trying to adopt her because the parents are white and she is 1.5 percent Native American. The couple had been raising the little girl for the past five years, but the dictates of the Indian Child Welfare Act of the 1970s thwarted those efforts.
Summer and Rusty Page maintain they are the only parents Lexi has ever had, and she knows them as mommy and daddy. The Santa Clarita, California, foster child was removed from her birth mother’s custody when she was just 17-months-old. The mother suffered from substance abuse problems, according to Fox 11 News Los Angeles. The girl’s birth father had a criminal history and was not deemed fit to parent Lexi.
The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in order to protect the best interests of Native American children, giving precedence to placing them with parents, relatives, or within the same tribe. Lexi is one-and-a-half percent Choctaw.
“Quite frankly, when Lexi is old enough to understand what happened to her, I think that would lead to resentment of her heritage, not embracing of the culture,” Rusty Page told local reporters.
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On Monday afternoon, California social workers took Lexi from the home of Rusty and Summer page as the parents and her foster siblings cried and shouted, “I love you.” The 6-year-old girl screamed and tried to wriggle away from the government workers as she was placed into a car to be driven more than 100 miles away.
“Don’t let them take me away,” Lexi shouted before the car doors closed and the child was driven away from the only home she had ever known, KTLA reports.
Dozens of protesters had been in the neighborhood offering support to Lexi and the Page family as they all awaited a ruling on an emergency stay that had been filed. Rusty and Summer Page had been embroiled in the adoption process for more than two years, fighting back against the Indian Child Welfare Act rules.
The little girl with Choctaw blood will now live with relatives who are also not Native American. The Utah couple Lexi has been placed in the custody of are related to her biological father by marriage. One of her sisters is already living in the home and another sister is living with other relatives just a few doors down.
An attorney was appointed to represent Lexi from the Children’s Law Center of California. A statement released by the agency said that Summer and Rusty Page had known for years the foster child was Native American but opted to “drag out litigation as long as possible, creating instability for the child.”
Lexi’s foster grandmother, Tari Kelly, had this to say about children’s services removing Lexi from the home because she is Native American during an interview with ABC 7 News.
“As a grandmother, it’s ripping my heart. It’s ripping me apart to see Lexi has been a part of our family for almost five years, and she’s not going to understand what’s going on. The children are not going to understand the separation. This is going to destroy these children.”
Summer and Rusty were reportedly ordered not to tell the other children in the home about Lexi’s pending removal. The emotional foster dad said he went outside to cry and try to prepare himself and then returned to play with the children until it was time for his foster daughter to be taken away.
Leaders from the Choctaw tribe detailed why they exercised their power to remove Lexi from the Page home in a statement shared with the media. The release said the tribe wants what is best for the little girl.
“The Choctaw Nation desires the best for this Choctaw child. The tribe’s values of faith, family and culture are what makes our tribal identity so important to us,” the release added, noting they will continue to instill such values for the “long-term best interest” of Lexi.
What do you think about Lexi being removed from the Page home because she is 1.5 percent Choctaw?
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