A 6-year-old girl has been taken away from her Southern California home of four years due to a law about her small slice of Native American heritage.
Lexi, who is 1.5 % Choctaw, has been living in Santa Clarita with Rusty and Summer Page, but is now being taken to relatives in Utah after a court ruling on the Indian Child Welfare Act and an emotional goodbye to her foster family.
The 1978 federal law was designed to keep Native American families together, attempting to stop large numbers of children with tribal heritage from being taken away and given to non-Native American households.
Lexi’s biological parents lost custody of their daughter when she was 17-months-old because she had a black eye.
The Choctaw tribe agreed to send her into the foster care system to “facilitate efforts to reunify the girl with her father.”
Her mother, who is not Native American, had substance abuse issues. Her father, an enrolled Choctaw member, has a criminal history and attempts to have him reunite with his daughter failed.
She spent time with two other families before being placed with the Pages, who have three other young children and have tried to adopt her.
It was the attempt at adoption that led to the family’s legal battle to keep her, though the court ultimately decided that she should be reunified with her biological father’s relatives, who are also taking care of her sister, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
Rusty Page said that Lexi has had contact and occasional visits from the Utah family for three years, and points out that they are not Native American and only related to the girl through marriage.
The extended relatives place above the Pages on the ICWA’s “adoptive placement preferences” and the court said that Lexi was not likely to suffer emotional harm after being taken away from her foster family.
However, her father said she was frightened when social services came to get her on Monday.
“She said, ‘Don’t let them take me. I’m scared. I’m scared. Don’t let me go.’ And I have to because the county of LA said I had to,” her foster father toldABC7 through tears.
Crowds of protesters had gathered next to the house on Sunday, and were later accompanied by a media circus that saw Lexi and her foster parents yelling to each other as she was taken away.