LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Santa Clarita couple vowed Thursday to keep fighting to gain custody of a 6-year-old foster girl of partial Choctaw lineage who was taken by social workers so she can live with relatives in Utah.
The girl, Lexi, was taken away from foster parents Rusty and Summer Page on March 21. The move was made under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which was enacted in the 1970s to help protect the interests of Native American children.
The state Supreme Court refused Wednesday to intervene in the case, rejecting a request by the Pages for a stay of a lower court decision that allowed the girl to be taken away.
“We’ll never, ever stop fighting for her, ever,” Rusty Page said in downtown Los Angeles, standing outside the offices of a state appeals court that is still considering the case.
“While the past 10 days have been complete anguish for our family, there’s no way our pain can compare to the confusion and disorientation that Lexi is experiencing,” he said. “Despite the news from the California Supreme Court yesterday, we remain hopeful that the very court we stand in front of this morning will do the right thing.”
Officials with the Choctaw Nation have said they desire “the best thing 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.”
Lexi is 1/64th Choctaw.
The court ruled she would be better off in a home with biological relatives. In Utah, she will be living with a biological sister.
Rusty and his wife, Summer, became Lexi’s foster parents when she was two.Her father had a criminal history and her birth mother had substance abuse issues, CBS News reported.
“It has nothing to do with the Indian Child Welfare Act,” CBS2 and KCAL9 legal analyst Steve Meister told reporter Randy Paige. “It has nothing to do with the race of this little girl or the culture of this little girl.”
He said the child was simply returned to relatives in Utah because child custody law requires that children be returned to their biological families whenever possible.
“And the superior court here,” says Meister, “made a finding after careful consideration that this girl would most appropriately be raised by her blood relatives in Utah.”
The Pages say they will take their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
Lexi had exchanged monthly visits with her Utah family for the past three years. She has not seen the Pages since she was removed from their home ten days ago.
Rusty had a message for her.
“To Lexi, our sweet Lexi, since no one has allowed you to contact us I’ll remind you what you told me just before they came to take you away. You told me I was your Superman and that’s exactly what I’m going to be for as long as it takes, I love you, mommy loves you and your sister and brother love you deeply and miss you terribly,” he said.
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