Fury broke out in Santa Clarita, California this week when California’s Department of Children and Family Services (DFCS) picked up a six-year-old child from the home of her foster parents on March 21 to be reunified with relatives in Utah. This was part of a nearly five-year custody between the girl’s relatives and her foster parents, Rusty and Summer Page, who were attempting to adopt the child.
What should have been a simple transfer of custody, however, became anything but. Protesters lined the streets of the foster family’s neighborhood to show their disapproval of the decision. In news footage of the event, protesters and the Pages can be heard yelling and crying, creating a chaotic scene.
Local and national news outlets painted the event as both tragic and unnecessary, claiming that Lexi was removed from the “only family she had ever known.”
The child, who was identified by the Pages as “Lexi,” is Choctaw and her placement with relatives was done in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ICWA is a federal law passed in 1978 to keep Indian children with their families.
The Page’s and their advocates claimed that Lexi’s low blood quantum percentage, which is 1.5%, should prevent ICWA from applying in this case and even referred to it as an outdated law. ICWA, they maintained, was separating Lexi and other Native American foster children from loving families that wished to adopt them.
However, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Indian Media Country Today noted these claims created a biased perspective of the case, which favored the foster family’s wishes over that of Lexi and her relatives. They also maintained that the Pages had always been aware that reunification, not adoption, were always part of Lexi’s case plan.
The Pages filed a request with the California Second District Court of Appeals to reverse the decision. The Choctaw Nation, on March 22, filed an opposition to that request.