A 6-year-old girl named Lexi was removed yesterday from the Santa Clarita, California foster home and the family she’d lived with for over four years, simply because she has 1/64th Choctaw Native American blood.
Lexi’s foster parents, Summer and Rusty Page, have been fighting for permanent custody with the intent to adopt Lexi for years, but have been stymied because of her 1.56% Native American blood, which dictates that her welfare be handled by the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. The law says that it “seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families.”
NBC News reports that Lexi’s biological parents struggled with substance abuse and that “her father, who had a criminal history, never lived on a Choctaw reservation and didn’t have any social, political, or cultural ties to the tribe, according to the court documents. But officials determined that Lexi is 1/64th Choctaw based on his ancestry.”
In 2011, a Utah “extended” family became aware that Lexi was in foster care and expressed interest in adopting her. They are related through Lexi’s step-grandfather and are NOT Native American, yet for some reason, the Indian Child Welfare Act still dictates that she should be placed with them. I cannot say that I understand it, and I certainly doubt it’s in the child’s best interest, since apparently these people aren’t blood-related if they are kin through a STEP-grandfather, rather than a blood relative. So, it confuses me why they would have any more rights to custody of her than the foster family would.
Yesterday, and supporters cried and watched in horror, Lexi was ripped from Rusty Page’s arms. The Page’s loyal “Save Lexi” supporters, who have started a Facebook community and a petition, are still making waves online in hopes of getting Lexi returned to the Pages.
“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 Page family said in a statement issued Monday night.
This next part of the statement is one I wholeheartedly agree with:
“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 National Indian Child Welfare Association says the decision to take Lexi from the Pages was the right one because “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.”
Again if “extended” family is related through a STEP grandparent…I don’t see how this is in her best interest, or how they would be better than her foster family. That is just my opinion as an outsider looking in, perhaps there’s more to the story…but I have a hard time believing that removing a child from a loving home because of a miniscule amount on Native American blood is truly in her best interest.
If you’re interested in supporting the Pages efforts to bring Lexi home, you can check out Save Lexi on Facebook.
Update: some readers referred me to this article with more background than the national news outlets were reporting: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-native-american-santa-clarita-foster-20160321-story.html