SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services removed a 6-year-old girl from her foster family in Santa Clarita Monday because of her Native-American heritage.
Social workers arrived at the home of Rusty and Summer Page near Ron Ridge Drive and Pamlico Drive shortly before 3 p.m. and took Lexi away, so she can be placed with Choctaw Nation blood relatives in Utah.
The girl is part Choctaw. Under the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted to keep Native-American children with Native-American families, Lexi will live with relatives of her Native-American father in Utah.
"Our family is so incredibly devastated. Our hearts are broken, and we are trying to make sense of everything that has happened," Page said.
"Her extended family has been waiting for her since 2011. For five years, they've been waiting to care for this child as a member of their family," said Sarah Kastelic of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
Lexi cried and clutched a teddy bear as her foster father carried her to the waiting car.
Social workers drove her away as family members, friends and supporters wept. "I wanted to take her out of the car. I can't imagine what she is feeling right now," said Katie Kelly, Lexi's foster aunt.
Distraught and weeping, Page shared his foster daughter's parting words: "Don't let them take me. I'm scared. I'm scared. Don't let me go." Page responded: "I have to because the county of L.A. said I have to."
Lexi has been with the Pages for about four years. She joined the family when she was 2.
The Choctaw Nation issued a statement saying it "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."
"Our daughter is just one of many victims of the Indian Child Welfare Act, a horrific law that the U.S. government continues time and time again to give absolute power to tribal leaders who judiciously abduct children at will," Page said.
Monday's heart-wrenching scene played out after a three-year court battle waged by the Pages, who vow to fight to regain custody of Lexi.
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