A 6-year-old girl of partial Choctaw heritage was taken from a foster family in Southern California by social workers Monday under the Indian Child Welfare Act, despite efforts by her family and supporters to try to block the move.
Social workers arrived at the home of Rusty and Summer Page shortly before 3 p.m. local time to take the girl, named Lexi, so she can be placed with blood relatives in Utah, Fox 11 reported.
The move was made under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted in the 1970s to help protect the interests of Native American children. Lexi is 1.5% Choctaw, Fox 11 reported.
Under the watchful eye of various cell phone cameras, social workers stood outside the front door of the home while the family prepared for the girl’s departure. Supporters outside the home sang “Amazing Grace.”
The girl loudly wept as Rusty Page carried her to a waiting car as supporters shouted “We love you, Lexi.” Rusty Page quickly retreated back to his home where his other children were crying.
After the girl was driven away, supporters cried and gathered together in prayer.
A sort time later, a distraught Rusty Page emerged from the home and pleaded for the girl’s return. He said Lexi was telling him, “This is dumb, don’t let them take me.” He responded, “I have to because the county of L.A. said I had to.”
In a statement released late Monday, the Page family called Lexi’s removal “devastating” and claimed that the Indian Child Welfare Act gives “absolute power to tribal leaders who judicially abduct children at-will[sic].”
In the last part of the statement, the Pages urged Lexi’s Utah relatives to “search deep into your heart and soul and do what’s best for Lexi. Do the right thing and bring Lexi back home.”
The Pages say they’ve tried to adopt Lexi for more than two years.
“Lexi doesn’t know another home. She finally knows what ‘mom and dad’ means and they want to take that away from her, and we can’t stand idly by while that happens,” Rusty Page told Fox 11.
The girl’s biological mother reportedly gave up custody when Lexi was just 17 months old. Officials planned to send her to Utah where she would live off the reservation with relatives of her biological parents, Fox 11 adds.
On Friday, a court order lifted an emergency stay keeping Lexi with the Pages. “Often there are no easy solutions, but when a court makes an order, we must follow it,” the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Philip Browning, told KCBS.
Tens of thousands of people have signaled their support for the foster family in a Change.org petition.
“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 tribe told KABC.