Bring Lexi Home

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Photo provided by: dailynews.com

Lexi's foster father Rusty Page (carrying her) and foster mother Summer Page, cry as social workers take Lexi from her home.

In late March of this year, a six-year-old foster child named Lexi was ripped away from the home she came to know for years, her foster parents, and her siblings- all because a minute fraction of her ancestry is Choctaw Indian.

According to the state of California, in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare act of 1978, the obscurely related family who will be receiving Lexi is supposedly better suited to raise her, all because she is 1.6 percent Native American. A child’s lineage or ethnicity, and ultimately any law therein, should all take second place to the child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.

According to the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the act was passed by Congress in response to the high number of Indian children being removed from their homes and potentially being placed in non-Native American foster homes. Congress hoped that this measure would preserve their Native American lineage, “protect the best interests of Indian children, and […] promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.”

In Lexi’s case, however, this law does not and should not apply. When she was first put into the foster system at the age of 17 months, Lexi was not removed from a Native American home, but from the care of a Hispanic single mother, who had absolutely no Native American heritage, and an absent father, who had been in and out of jail and was only 3.2 percent Native American. That means, according to Lexi’s foster uncle, that one of Lexi’s 64 great great great great grandparents was Native American.

Ironically, the family receiving Lexi (whose name has not been released and has been undisclosed in the media) is not of Native American blood, but a distant relative of Lexi’s dad by marriage. This family is currently raising Lexi’s half sister, whom Lexi has had very little and limited contact with. While it is understandable that it is in the best interest of both siblings to be kept together, Lexi’s sister, up to this point, has not been family to her.

The fact that Lexi’s case was placed under this law is completely unjustifiable, especially since, as it turns out, she isn’t being placed in a home that has any more Native American blood than her current one.

According to statements made by Lexi’s family and their attorney, there has been little contact between Lexi and her new family, other than messages and semi-regular visits. While I am sure that Lexi will be in capable and loving hands with the family in Utah, they are simply not her parents. When she was being taken from her home, her siblings and mother were heard crying out for her, weeping at the loss of a sister and daughter.

The Page family appealed to the Supreme Court of California and lost their case because, according to the Court of Appeals decision, they could not produce sufficient information that the removal of Lexi from her home would harm her in any way. The decision directly contradicts scientific research that has been conducted in numerous studies, pointing to the conclusion that a sudden uprooting of her life as well as the separation from her family can affect Lexi’s long-term psyche.

As a child, we understand very little about the world. We know and find comfort in a few basic things; the security of a home, love from family, and the understanding that parents will take care of us. With the Page family in California, Lexi had all of those things. When a child is taken from a secure childhood, such as Lexi’s, he or she are placed at a serious risk of psychological trauma. According to the Orange County Criminal Attorney’s Blog, childhood separation can lead to several psychological disorders such as depression, behavior disorders, separation anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. Their whole reality becomes uncertain. By being stolen from her home, Lexi was forced to live with the understanding that it is completely possible and even legal to be removed from her household at any time and anyone growing up with.

The Supreme Court’s decision is legally and morally baseless. The state of California needs to rectify its error and return Lexi to her family. The Pages stated that they will continue to fight for custody of Lexi until they get her back, and because they are motivated by strong parental connections, I believe them. Furthermore, it needs to be reconciled as soon as possible, because if Lexi stays with the family in Utah for too long, that location could possibly become her new norm, and it will just do her even more harm to flip her life around all over again.

That being said, I don’t think that Lexi could ever feel at home with the Utah family. Her dad said that her last word to him before he was forced to put her into the seat of an unknown car were, “Don’t let them take me. I’m scared. I’m scared. Don’t let me go.” If it isn’t apparent from that helpless cry, Lexi needs to be brought home to her true family. The foster system was created to help children and put them into comfortable homes where they feel loved. She has had that for over four years and to uproot her now would be to uproot what she knows as truth about family and about her own security.

If you wish to help Lexi’s family, the Pages have started an online petition on change.org. The petition will be sent to 14 people, including Senator Sharon Runner, California’s Governor Jerry Brown, and Choctaw National of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton. You can also show your support by donating to the cause through their go fund me page.