Devastated family must give up 6-year-old foster daughter because she is 1.5% Native American.
Social workers removed a sobbing six-year-old girl from the home of her foster family in Santa Clarita, CA on Monday, where she has lived since she was 2 years old, because she is part Choctaw Native American, and the “Indian Child Welfare Act” says she is supposed to only live with other Native American families.
Lexi’s foster mother and siblings cried hysterically as their sister was tenderly carried out by her foster father and placed in the car with the social worker, then driven away. Family and friends broke down in the driveway, heartbroken over losing the little girl.
It has been a long battle, but the family had no options left after they were denied an emergency stay to keep the child they had raised as their own.
At 17 months, Lexi was removed from custody of her biological mother, who had substance abuse problems and had already lost custody of six other children. The father, who is part Indian, has an extensive criminal history, and had lost custody of one other child.
At 2 years old, Lexi was placed with Rusty and Summer Page, and they have been trying to adopt her for the past 2½ years, but have not been permitted to do so, since they are not Native American themselves.
Ironically, the Choctaw Tribe, and the Department of Children and Human Services, has recommended the child be placed with a couple in Utah who are extended family of her biological father – but not blood-related – so they are not Native American either.
The child has visited the Utah family regularly over the past three years, and they have come to Santa Clarita to visit her about once a month, so she does have a relationship with them. One of her biological sisters already lives with the couple, and another sister lives down the street.
The National Indian Child Welfare Association said in a statement Monday that it was disturbed by a flurry of negative media attention regarding the “attempted reunification of a child with her family in Utah.”
“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 (ICWA), and who has relatives who were willing to raise her if reunification with her father was unsuccessful,” the organization said in a statement.
“In fact, the only surprising turn of events is the lengths the foster family has gone to, under the advice of an attorney with a long history of trying to overturn ICWA, to drag out litigation as long as possible, creating instability for the child in question.”
Rusty and Summer Page, however, are the only parents Lexi has ever known, and their children the only siblings she has ever known. Understandably, the family is distraught over losing the little girl who they’ve raised as their own.
They were not allowed to tell Lexi or the other children what was about to happen in advance.
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