Supreme Court won’t hear American Indian girl’s custody case

Rusty Page carries Lexi while Summer Page, in the background, cries as members of family services, left, arrive to take Lexi away from her foster family in Santa Clarita, Calif., on March 21. David Crane / Los Angeles Daily News via AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Family members said Monday they were disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving their former foster daughter, a girl with Native American ancestry who was ordered removed from their California home and reunited with relatives in Utah.

Rusty and Summer Page said in a statement that the high court’s decision was a “crushing blow.”

Lexi, who is part Choctaw, was 6 years old when she was taken from her foster home near Los Angeles in a tearful parting last March. She was placed with extended family in Utah under a decades-old federal law designed to keep Native American families together.

A California appeals court affirmed in July a lower court’s decision to remove the girl.

The Pages said Monday they will keep fighting for changes to the law “and the rights of other children unnecessarily hurt by the Indian Child Welfare Act.”

Lexi was 17 months old when she was removed from the custody of her mother, who had drug-abuse problems, and placed in foster care. Her father has a criminal history, according to court records.

Although foster care is supposed to be temporary, the Pages wanted to adopt Lexi and for years fought efforts under the federal act to place the girl with relatives of her father, who is part Choctaw.

Lexi is now living with relatives of her father who are not Native Americans.

The case was one of dozens brought by foster families since the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in the late 1970s. Lawmakers found that Native American families were broken up at disproportionately high rates, and that cultural ignorance and biases within the child welfare system were largely to blame.

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