By now, most of you have heard about Lexi, the part Native American 6 year old girl being removed from her Santa Clarita foster family. This is a tough case with few clear solutions.
If you haven’t heard, Rusty and Summer Page brought Lexi into their home four years ago, and became foster parents to her. Since Lexi is part Choctaw, social workers began the process of moving her to live with extended family in Utah. This is because of a law called Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which effectively prohibits the breaking up of Native American families through adoption by non-Native families. Because of this law, the Oklahoma based Choctaw Nation moved for Lexi to be relocated back with her Native American family in Utah.
It’s hard to watch the images of Lexi being removed from her home, clutching her teddy bear and crying, while the family sang Amazing Grace. It’s clear that Lexi had an attachment to the Page family, and wished to stay. On the other hand, the law is the law, and the Pages were a foster family — which is inherently a temporary situation. On another hand, some have said the Pages dragged the legal battle out over four years just to create the attachment — which admittedly is somewhat far-fetched.
People have gone back and forth on this story since it became big news.
Some people saying that this is the only home Lexi has known, and to remove her from it is far too upsetting to the child. Yet, there’s others that are saying it’s important for her to know her heritage and live with her blood family, so long as the family is fit to care for her. Of course, there’s plenty of people in the middle.
As we say over and over, it comes down to what a judge decides is “in the best interest of the child” — which is still kind of subjective. The law isn’t absolute and can be interpreted. At the same time, it depends on the disposition of the judge and his or her ability to see both sides of the issue.
To be honest, it’s hard for us to have a real take on this other than the one hard truth: child custody cases are hard.
There’s so many layers to this story that even we, as legal professionals, have to sit back and breathe deeply. Situations like this have no easy answer, and there’s no way to “win.” No matter the decision, someone is going to have to face a difficult situation. Even worse is that any way you look at it, Lexi loses.
Lexi’s situation is — more than any other case in recent memory — exactly why we keep telling people “custody cases are hard.”
There’s nothing easy about child custody proceedings, and it’s important to have a lawyer who can handle these tough times with care and respect. Use our Contact Us form to speak with an attorney who can give your case the attention you deserve.