Foster child taken due to Indian heritage Law

Rusty Page carries Lexi while Summer Page, in the background, cries as members of family services, left, arrive to take Lexi away from her foster family in Santa Clarita, Calif., Monday, March 21, 2016. Lexi, who spent most of her life with California foster parents, was removed from her home on Monday under a court order that concluded her native American blood requires her placement with relatives in Utah. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — A 6-year-old girl who spent most of her life with California foster parents was removed from her home on Monday under a court order that concluded her Native American blood requires her placement with relatives in Utah.

Rusty Page carries Lexi while Summer Page, in the background, cries as members of family services, left, arrive to take Lexi away from her foster family in Santa Clarita, Calif., Monday, March 21, 2016. Lexi, who spent most of her life with California foster parents, was removed from her home on Monday under a court order that concluded her native American blood requires her placement with relatives in Utah. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
(David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

Lexi, who is part Choctaw, cried and clutched a stuffed bear as Rusty Page carried her out of his home north of Los Angeles to a waiting car. Los Angeles County social workers whisked her away.

“How is it that a screaming child, saying ‘I want to stay, I’m scared,’ how is in her best interest to pull her from the girl she was before that doorbell rang?” he told KNX-AM radio.

His wife, Summer Page, screamed “Lexi, I love you!” and a crowd of friends and neighbors cried, prayed or sang hymns.

The Pages had fought efforts under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act to place Lexi with relatives of her father, who is a Native American. The Pages argued that Lexi had lived with them since the age of 2 and knew no other life.

Supporters of Lexi's foster family hold a rally for the family outside Lexi's foster home in Santa Clarita, Calif., Monday, March 21, 2016. Lexi, who spent most of her life with California foster parents, was removed from her home on Monday under a court order that concluded her native American blood requires her placement with relatives in Utah. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
(David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

However, a court found that the Page family “had not proven by clear and convincing evidence that it was a certainty the child would suffer emotional harm by the transfer.”

The Pages have three children and want to adopt Lexi. The family is appealing and will go to the California Supreme Court if necessary, said their attorney, Lori Alvino McGill.

Lexi was 17 months old when she was removed from her birth parents’ custody. Her mother had substance abuse problems, and her father had an extensive criminal history, according to court records cited by the Los Angeles Daily News.

Graham, center, and Lena Kelly, rear, Lexi's foster aunt and uncle, break down on the street after family services came to take Lexi away from her foster family in Santa Clarita, Calif., Monday, March 21, 2016. Lexi, who spent most of her life with California foster parents, was removed from her home on Monday under a court order that concluded her native American blood requires her placement with relatives in Utah. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
(David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

She will live with a Utah couple who are not Native Americans but are related by marriage to her father. The girl’s sister is living with the couple, and another sister will be living down the street, said Leslie Heimov of the Children’s Law Center of California, Lexi’s court-appointed legal representatives.

“The law is very clear that siblings should be kept together whenever they can be, and they should be placed together even if they were not initially together,” Heimov told the Daily News.

She said the girl and the Utah family had traded messages and monthly visits over the past three years.

Rusty Page, foster father to Lexi, 6, is comforted by Graham Kelly after getting the news that family services will come to take Lexi away outside his home in Santa Clarita, Calif., Monday, March 21, 2016. Lexi, who spent most of her life with California foster parents, was removed from her home on Monday under a court order that concluded her native American blood requires her placement with relatives in Utah. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
(David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)

“She has a loving relationship with them,” Heimov said. “They are not strangers in any way, shape or form.”

In a statement, the National Indian Child Welfare Association said the Pages were aware for years that the girl was an American Indian but chose to “drag out litigation as long as possible, creating instability for the child.”

In a statement, the Choctaw Nation said it “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 statement said.

___

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s