Indian Child Welfare Act to separate foster daughter from family

Amy Powell Image
Monday, March 21, 2016
Dozens against removal of part Native American girl from foster family
Dozens touched by a family's story gathered together against the removal of a part Native American girl from her Santa Clarita foster home to live with extended family in Utah.

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Dozens of family, friends and community members touched by a family's story gathered together Sunday against the removal of a partially Native American girl from her Santa Clarita foster home to live with extended family in Utah.

Department of Children and Family Services agents were expected to take 6-year-old Lexi from her home at 10 a.m. but later postponed the meeting after a large group of supporters crowded the neighborhood to stand against her removal.

Many then decided to stay overnight in case DCFS agents come to take Lexi away before her foster family's attorneys can head to the California Supreme Court Monday morning to file a stay.

Rusty and Summer Page took Lexi in four years ago to live with them and their three children. Now, they are fighting to adopt her. Rusty said Lexi was only 2 years old when she joined her foster family and knows the couple as her mother and father.

The Pages were heartbrokenwhen they heard Lexi will be taken from them to live with an extended family because she is 1.5 percent Choctaw.

The 6-year-old's case fell under the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law passed in the 1970's aimed to protect the best interests of Native American children.

The Page family has been fighting to keep Lexi but lost their most recent court appeal Friday.

"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," said Tari Kelly, Lexi's foster grandmother.

A statement from the Choctaw Nation said it wants what is best for Lexi.

"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," it said.

"I can't imagine being anywhere else today than being here and showing support for this 6-year-old girl because it's not about what family is better," said family friend Susan Whitman. "It's about what is better for a 6-year-old little girl."

The Pages said they have not been told when DCFS will arrive to take Lexi, but believe the agents want to do the removal away from the eyes of the media and the community.