Community Members Band Together to Delay Part-Native American Girl's Removal From Her Longtime Foster Family
A Santa Clarita, California, neighborhood has united to help one family prevent their longtime foster child from being taken away due to the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Family and friends of Rusty and Summer Page gathered around their home on Sunday, effectively blocking the Department of Children and Family Services from retrieving Lexi and forcing the agents to postpone the meeting, according to ABC7.
Lexi, 6, is 1.5 percent Choctaw Native American, and, in accordance with the Welfare Act, will be taken to live with her extended family in Utah. The Pages, who also have three of their own children, have fostered Lexi for the past four years.
“Lexi doesn’t know another home,” Rusty told Fox 11 over the weekend. “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.”
The family has been trying to adopt Lexi, whose biological parents have long relinquished custody, for the last two and a half years, Rusty told Fox 11.
“As hard as it is, and as scary as it is to go up against the people we going up against, we’re putting everything on the line,” added Summer. “A mom is not going to sit back, a dad is not going to sit back. We’re going to fight until the very end.”
The couple have not told Lexi, or any of their other children, that she may be leaving, as they’re “under specific orders” not to do so. They also don’t know when the DCFS is returning.
PEOPLE could not immediately reach the Choctaw Nation for comment, but the organization told ABC 7 in a statement that they desire “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,” the statement said. “Therefore we will continue to work to maintain these values and work toward the long-term best interest of this child.”
The Page family has also created a Change.org petition, which is under 8,000 signatures shy of the required 25,000 needed to send the letter to their state government representatives.
According to a statement from the couple’s attorney, as shared to their Change.org account, the Utah family Lexi will live with are “distant extended relatives by marriage” and are not Native American.
“The Pages even offered them significant visitation over holidays and summertime, and they never responded to offers of compromise,” the statement read. “They are not interested in anything except full custody, and they are not thinking about this little girl s best interests.”
On their Facebook page on Sunday, the couple wrote, “To all our dear supporters – we thank you so much for your amazing show of friendship. We have been so blessed to have people we know & people we don t show up in person & in spirit today.”
“We’re holding it together for the kids,” Summer told reporters outside her home on Sunday, adding, “Inside, we’re dying.”