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Native family was ‘part of Lexi’s life’

Posted: March 23, 2016 4:15 p.m.
Updated: March 23, 2016 4:15 p.m.
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Lexi, the 6-year-old girl removed from the home of her Santa Clarita foster family Monday, is home with her biological Choctaw family in Utah, capping a five-year court battle, a spokesman for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma said Wednesday.

“Despite all the delays, the Choctaw Nation can report that Lexi is safely home with her loving family and her sisters, and she is doing well,” Waddel Hearn Jr., the Choctaw Nation’s public relations director, said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“The Choctaw Nation began the journey to reunite Lexi with her family in 2011. Lexi is now home with her extended family — where she is able to grow up with both of her biological Choctaw sisters,” he said.

For at least four years, Lexi, who is 1/64th Native American, has lived with her foster parents, Rusty and Summer Page, on Ron Ridge Drive in Saugus.

Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services removed Lexi from her foster family home Monday, acting on a court decision handed down Friday that denied a petition to prevent the girl’s removal from California.

Custody battle
Friday’s decision heard in the 2nd District Court of Appeal came after a five-year legal tug-of-war for custody of the little girl.

From the very beginning, the goal was for Lexi to have a permanent home with her family, Hearn said Wednesday.

“The foster parents were always aware that Lexi’s presence in their home was intended to be temporary, as is the nature of foster care,” he said. “The foster parents were also always aware that Lexi’s case fell under the federal and California Indian Child Welfare Acts.

“Lexi’s family made sure they were part of Lexi’s life, and they have a relationship with her. Each month, they made the long drive to see Lexi.

“Twice each week, her family had Skype visits with Lexi. In addition, Lexi has had extended visits in her family’s home in Utah. Lexi has a relationship with her biological sisters and she knows them as her sisters.”

Appeal
The Pages filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking to have Lexi’s custody awarded to them.

Monday’s arrival of county workers to collect Lexi followed a 30-hour street rally in Saugus organized as an apparent last-ditch effort to prevent the child’s removal to Utah. Sixty to 100 protesters stood vigil and prayed to keep the child in the custody of her foster parents.

Lexi, who was 17 months old when she was removed from the custody of her biological mother, falls under the federal law governing jurisdiction over the removal of Native American children from their families.

“The tribe and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services have been vilified, and the facts of this case have been warped in an attempt to gain public sympathy for the foster family,” Hearn said.

“This case is not about the foster family, but about a child’s long-term best interest — Lexi’s best interest,” Hearn said.

According to the Choctaw Nation, Lexi should never have been subjected “to the trauma of a media circus when the foster parents’ legal remedies were exhausted.”

Confidentiality
Before a foster child is placed with a foster family, the foster parents participate in an orientation explaining the foster family arrangement.

Part of that orientation involves understanding a commitment by the foster family to maintain the anonymity of the foster child, said Department of Children and Family Services spokeswoman Amara Suarez.

“Foster parents are aware of the confidentiality protection of the foster child,” she said, speaking in general terms.

“Lexi should never have had her rights to privacy and confidentiality violated,” Hearn said in a statement Wednesday, referring to the online campaign to keep her with the Pages, which included her photograph.

[email protected]
661-287-5527
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

 

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