Parenting

Court Orders 6-Year-Old Foster Child Removed From Only Family She Knows—Because She's 1/64 Choctaw

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responds to questions at a news conference on Capitol Hill on Feb. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

SEE BELOW FOR AN UPDATE ON THIS CASE

It seems like a day doesn’t go by that we don’t see evidence of government agencies making a mockery of the foster care system. From localities ripping kids away from loving foster families under specious circumstances to states sending minors back to abusive biological families, these agencies often do more harm than good in the lives of these poor children.

Add laws involving the treatment of American Indian children into the mix, and the stories can get even more complicated. Witness the case of Lexi, a six-year-old girl in California who has thrived with a foster family for nearly half a decade. Her foster parents, Rusty and Summer Page, have been trying to adopt Lexi, who has been diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, for two-and-a-half years, but there’s a huge complication: the Page family is white, and Lexi is 1/64th Choctaw.

You read that right – 1/64th – and because of that minute percentage of Native American blood in Lexi’s genetic makeup, the courts may take her away from the family she knows and loves. A recent court decision has ordered that Lexi be removed from the Page family and placed with a relative hundreds of miles away in Utah — a relative who, you guessed it, happens to be Choctaw.

Lexi’s fate is in dispute because of the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law enacted in the 1970s and designed to protect Native American children in court cases. The Page family has vowed to fight for Lexi as long as they can, and dozens of protesters in solidarity with the family camped out at the Page home this weekend in case authorities came to whisk the girl away from her foster family.

The Page family has pulled out all the stops to make Lexi’s plight known to the world. They have a Facebook page and a Twitter account dedicated to the fight to “Save Lexi.” To date, over 36,000 people have signed the change.org petition in support of the Page family, and a GoFundMe account is raising money to help the family with their fight.

The family has summarized Lexi’s case in the most succinct way:

Lexi has been with a loving, stable family for nearly five years and is thriving and a happy, healthy little girl. To Lexi this family is her everything – her mommy, daddy and brother and sisters. Unfortunately, since Lexi is 1.5% Choctaw, the state of California and LA County have allowed the Indian Child Welfare Law to devastate this family and will be pulling Lexi from her Mommy and Daddy on Sunday to move her to Utah to live with a non-blood related family who aren’t even members of the tribe.

The Page family pastor, Dr. John MacArthur, has even weighed in, asking for prayers and support for the family.

For its part, the Choctaw Nation issued a statement filled with the bland generalities of an organization that doesn’t really want to jump into the fray:

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. Therefore we will continue to work to maintain these values and work toward the long-term best interest of this child.

The court realizes that, by getting involved, it is placing Lexi’s permanent adoption on the back burner:

We recognize that a final decision regarding Alexandria’s adoptive placement will be further delayed as a result of our determination of the merits of this appeal. That delay is warranted by the need to insure that the correct legal standard is utilized in deciding whether good cause has been shown that it is in the best interest of Alexandria to depart from the ICWA’s placement preferences.

What seems like a pretty simple issue — the best interests of a six-year-old girl — has become convoluted thanks to tribal issues. In the meantime, pray for the Page family, and support them if you’re so inclined. Hopefully the court will make the right decision and do what is best for Lexi.        

UPDATE:
 There has been an unfortunate development in this case today. From Santa Clarita Valley Signal’s Facebook page:  

Lexi’s father, Rusty Page has made an announcement moments ago. Struggling to hold back tears, Rusty Page father of 6-year-old Lexi said he received the phone call he was dreading. The DCFS that told him that county officials would be arriving today to pick up Lexi. He then turned away in tears from the crush of cameras, collapsing in a chair on the sidewalk, comforted by Lexi’s uncle Graham Kelley. Read more here.

Supporters of the family have organized a prayer rally for Lexi: