save-lexi-protests
Katharine Lotze/Signal
Protestors gathered and prayed to “Save Lexi” pray near the foster families home in California.

Choctaw Nation Responds to Foster Couple in ICWA Case

Choctaw Nation
3/24/16

A custody case over a 6-year-old Choctaw girl named Lexi that has been going on nearly five years has been settled after three separate court battles. The Choctaw Nation began the journey to reunite Lexi with her family in 2011. Lexi is now home with her extended family—where she is able to grow up with both of her biological Choctaw sisters.

From the very beginning of Lexi’s case, the goal was for Lexi to have a permanent home with her family. The foster parents were always aware that Lexi’s presence in their home was intended to be temporary, as is the nature of foster care. The foster parents were also always aware that Lexi’s case fell under the federal and California Indian Child Welfare Acts.

Lexi’s family made sure they were part of Lexi’s life, and they have a relationship with her. Each month, they made the long drive to see Lexi. Twice each week, her family had SKYPE visits with Lexi. In addition, Lexi has had extended visits in her family’s home in Utah. Lexi has a relationship with her biological sisters and she knows them as her sisters.

The tribe and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services have been vilified and the facts of this case have been warped in an attempt to gain public sympathy for the foster family. This case is not about the foster family—but about a child’s long-term best interest—Lexi’s best interest.

Lexi—a child who should never have been subjected to the trauma of a media circus when the foster parents’ legal remedies were exhausted.

Lexi—a child who should never have had her rights to privacy and confidentiality violated.

It appears the foster family and their counsel are attempting to turn Lexi’s case into a political call to arms to dismantle ICWA. For the Choctaw Nation this case is not about politics. This case is about one of our children, one of our tribal members.

And regardless of tribal membership, Lexi should be allowed to live with her family, just as all children in any deprived case should.

The law requires Lexi be given the chance to grow up with her family, with her sisters. The California courts, time and again, found that Lexi should live with her family. The Pages have done nothing but delay Lexi’s reunification with her family.

Despite all the delays, the Choctaw Nation can report that Lexi is safely home with her loving family and her sisters, and she is doing well.

The Choctaw Nation is grateful that so many people are interested in Lexi’s wellbeing, and hope everyone continues to look at both sides of Lexi’s case.  We also request that each of you respect this young child’s right to privacy.

RELATED: Breaking: California Returns Child to Family in ICWA Case

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Old Lady's picture
Old Lady
Submitted by Old Lady on
Choctaws rock! I just can't get over the narcissistic selfishness of the foster family...these people need to cool their heels in the pokey until they can respect other people's rights, and they could not have been good for Lexi or any other child to be around either. Congrats on winning the battle to protect this young life - this Choctaw girl who was restored to you. May no Native child ever be lost again.

Marly Duran's picture
Marly Duran
Submitted by Marly Duran on
This is a situation that happens all the time. Not the Native ancestry part, necessarily, but the being beaten down by the system. The foster care system is broken, and needs sweeping reform. Non-native parents get abused by the system too. However, when you look at South Dakota, for example, you'll see that Native kids are being removed at a higher rate, and are less likely to be reunified with their families. It's a way to try to decimate Native populations and make a big chunk of money for the state. How is this still happening? Lexi's case brought some light onto a topic that needs all the help it can get. Let's see if we can't use this opportunity to make some changes and actually do the right thing for these families affected by greedy social services agents and politicians.

ARios's picture
ARios
Submitted by ARios on
I was this child once and I know exactly how this child feels and it breaks my heart to know that her foster parents lost thier battle and were made to give her up. Regardlees of what folks may think here, it was not in the best interest to take a child from a loving stable home environment where she felt safe and place her back into an environment that caused her to be placed into foster care in the first place. I was placed at 2 1/2 after floating around in foster care from the time I was a babe. I always knew my relatives including my biological mother, who were part indian, along with 3 other siblings who stayed and were raised by her and grew up to be unstable adults. I visited every summer only to be returned to my foster parents sick, dirty and very much neglected by adults who were alcoholics and once drove me 80 miles home drunk. I was that child who received phone calls from drunk relatives promising me a visit only for me to wait hours and they never show up. I was that child that was threatened to be ripped away from the only true home and stable environment I ever knew. I rememeber every moment of it. I was kidnapped and driven around for hours, given gifts only to have to leave them. Every single disappointment. I remember. My foster parents fought to adopt me as well as my biological brother and finally there wish was granted when I truned 11 years old. I thank the Creator everyday for my Foster Parents. For thier love, kindness stability and the strength it must have taken to fight for me and my brother as well as the pain they suffered knowing I could have been ripped away just like this child has been everyday. So tell me again how this childs best interst was first and foremost and NOT a politcal statement on behalf of whom?

turbojesus's picture
turbojesus
Submitted by turbojesus on
Now all she needs is a centurion to help carry the cross. Yeah it's better to give her the burden of history of which she shared no part in.

Alynn's picture
Alynn
Submitted by Alynn on
So, just to clarify, this article suggests Lexi is going to grow up with two biological sisters, both of Choctaw descent. I don’t think they’re both of Choctaw descent. They’re both half sisters—one by a different mother and one by a different father. Lexi’s real father is of Choctaw descent (very diluted I might add). Her real mother is not. So her real mom had a relationship with two different men who both happen to be of Choctaw descent? Just an interesting discrepancy and seems wildly improbable, but it would be kind of amazing if that was the case. Is that indeed the case, or is that a typo? I’m also curious if the Choctaw Nation is working to reunify Lexi, with her other 6 siblings. Most resources confirm that between her real mother and real father there are 9 children, all of them half-siblings to Lexi. Also, I saw a photo that I think was of the half-sister Lexi will be living with, and it looked as though this half-sister could potentially be up to 10 years Lexi’s superior. I’m really curious as to the age difference between Lexi and her half-sister. If her half-sister is significantly older, that would mean in just 2 years or so, Lexi’s sister could potentially move out and be on to college, leaving little Lexi alone. Maybe the half-sister down the street is closer to her age, or perhaps her step-grandfather’s niece’s family have kids around her age. Anyway, this case is so complex. It’s a bunch of adults stamping their foot down and saying “I know Lexi’s best interests.” “No, I know Lexi’s best interests.” “No, I know Lexi’s best interests.” What it boils down to, and what I keep coming to is, what does Lexi want? Evidence overwhelmingly suggests—even court documents dating back to 2013—that what Lexi wants is to live with the Page’s. Why proponents of the ICWA, who support removing Lexi from the care of the Page’s, like this source, continue to call out the “media circus” is due to the fact that it’s a gem—crystal CLEAR evidence that Lexi herself does not want this transfer. It’s not the cameras that girl is crying about. That girl was screaming before she ever left the house and begging not to be taken away. You can only stand so solidly in support of removing Lexi from the Page’s care by disregarding Lexi’s voice. Even after meeting with and trying to unify with her real father, even after meeting extensively with her extended family in Utah, she is STILL against this transfer. That is telling in my opinion. I keep coming to that conclusion and I really want someone to challenge me on it. Come on say it, “it doesn’t matter what Lexi wants.” Be calloused. Go for it! You know you want to. I kid of course. It is true, as it currently stands, legally it does not matter what Lexi wants, but morally it does matter. What Lexi wants is the foundation on which the #BringLexiHome campaign stands, and you can only stand so solidly by pretending it’s not there, and distracting people—“look here, look here. Ignore what the child clearly wants.” And sometimes privacy is a weapon people use to push an unjust agenda behind closed doors. Give that child a voice. Don’t smother her. Show the world she IS happy. Show the world this IS what SHE wants. You will effectively shut down the Page’s campaign if you do that. Instead, you’re allowing it to fester and possibly grow into a Federal Supreme Court case that might severely damage the ICWA. Truth be told, I don’t think Lexi is happy, and that is why people like this source use the “privacy” crutch and continue to call out the “media circus.” I want to know what Lexi wants, and I want to hear it from HER. Until I obtain clear evidence of her happiness, I will continue to support the #BringLexiHome campaign.

Taciq's picture
Taciq
Submitted by Taciq on
There is nothing sadder than seeing a child, a real human being, being treated as property. If children are truly valued by their respective cultures and cultural identities are so important, then there should be no need for 'outside' foster help. Unfortunately, we know those things are not always the case. Even more unfortunately, children are sometimes uprooted from families who care about them deeply only to be 'returned' to dysfunctional situations from which they will again be removed. What that does to children, the innocent ones, makes tribal, ethnic, or biological integrity the weakest possible excuse for the destruction of trust and human dignity it is traded for. That is simply unforgivable. No one winds if the child loses. We can only hope that the care that is now being touted will be upheld with greater integrity and responsibility than was shown for the child when she previously needed someone stable to love and care for her.

CJKlepper's picture
CJKlepper
Submitted by CJKlepper on
The best comment I've read so far is from Arios, who went through the same ordeal as this Choctaw child. I strongly believe that if a child, especially a baby, is placed into foster care, should not be returned to the biological parents or relatives if that baby has been in the placed care for more than a year. The bounding and development begins at an early age the time when there should be stability to thrive. Visiting periodically from the relatives has all along exhibited an instability existed and the biological parent or relatives apparently did nothing to bring the child back to the fold of her family. As long as alcoholism exists on the reservations and a child or children of Native Americans are placed by off-reservation agencies because of neglect the child or children should remain in foster homes until they are adopted or their biological relatives have corrected their home environment.

Lou Hodges
Lou Hodges
Submitted by Lou Hodges on
Seriously, don't traumatize the poor kid, and rush in and do an Elian Gonzales. Don't assimilate her slowly, so she can get to know her family. Just scare the living daylights out of her. Good job. Really good job. Especially when she's half Choktaw.

ndngirl's picture
ndngirl
Submitted by ndngirl on
ARios.. sounds like you had to go through all those situations to learn to forgive and thank Creator for making you a strong spirit..remember nothing last forever..we all go home ..I think Lexi is going to have alot to deal with just being here.. and dealing with selfish people who clearly don't know the history of the native American people and what they have had to deal with ever since the Europeans for here. I'm not sure what her relatives are like but I do know she has a sister. I hope she can have a chance to get to know her. And have the freedom to be with her relatives..not all relatives are like yours..

Pamela Blevins
Pamela Blevins
Submitted by Pamela Blevins on
My great great great great grandparents were Irish, Swedish, German and Native. I am no more any of these identities than Lexi is a Choctaw. The Choctaw bar of zero% (a drop of blood) is ridiculous and, honestly the practice of % to determine ethnicity is an outdated and racist practice. The ICWA was brought about to prevent the racially motivated removal of Native children from their homes and being forced into majority homes and institutions. It was to off preferential placement of Native kids in Native biological families wherever possible. It was to keep intact families together not to tear them apart. Children are to be placed with blood relatives and those relatives should be Native. There should be a real and active connection to Native heritage and culture. Lexi was placed with the Page family at age 17 months after enduring a year+ of the foster care circus as well as abuse and neglect. This was all thanks to her birth parents and family. Both birth parents have had their rights to Lexi terminated. Lexis birth father, Jay Ellerforbes, refused to complete the minimal court requirements to reach reunification with Lexi (and apparently with all of his other children as well. Swell gent that guy.). He is not the loving concerned parent I have read reported in Native news outlets. He is serial criminal with a penchant for drugs and violence and the Hells Angels. He also has current drug paraphernalia and meth possession charges against him. Lexi reported to social workers that she is terrified of him and his outbursts of anger and has hidden behind furniture to stay out of his way. His ex partner says he wouldn't her in front of Lexi and other children. He is going to be a part of her life now. He is not a great man. Lexi was placed with the Pages showing significant reactive behaviors. She recoiled from affection and called random strangers mommy and daddy. The Page family nursed her through her significant trauma and gave her the loving and supportive environment to become a confident and strong little girl full of hope. They gave her the unconditional love and affection only parents can give. No one in her biological family has done this. The people she has been forcefully removed to are not her biological family. They are step second cousins via the remarriage of a shared paternal grandparent. They are not Native and they are white. Having a half sister in their home does not make them a Native household. Lexi has zero connection to this family. She does not identify with them nor will she. You cannot force a child to love you. So back to ICWA, Jay Ellerforbes denied his Native heritage. His mother played that card after his rights were terminated and the Pages had been given a green light as her defect family to adopt her almost 3 years ago. Lexi made her need to stay with her family, the Pages, known consistently. And, surprise! two non Native social workers from the the case say that the Choctaw representatives ignored and even lied about her consistent statements to remain with her family, the Pages. That post interaction with these people Lexi was incapable and out of sorts for days. Why? Because she knew that they want to take her from her home and family. She is old enough to know what has been done to her. A Choctaw rep therapist who visited Lexi in her home said that the Pages had done an amazing job with her and that because she was so healthy and strong she could be subjected to trauma. Yes, how disgusting is that? Hey, kid you're healthy so Im gonna say you should be subjected to trauma because even if you're a shell of yourself now you'll be alive. Lexis lawyers failed her. They placed tribal interests and department policy in front of her best interest. Lexi had a placement that wanted to keep her and she wants to be there. Lexis defacto mom, Summer Page, is part Native (really not pretend) and has participated in Native heritage and culture already before Lexi came into their home. The tribe she is a member of submitted documentation to the Choctaw social worker that assured that Lexi would be raised aware of and partaking in Native heritage. These were allegedly never forwarded. Lexis best interest is to remain healthy and happy and strong. She has a right to equal protection under that law and because of the horrible abuse of ICWA she has been denied that. She is not a second class citizen because of 1 of her 64 great great great great grandparents allegedly was Choctaw and the other 63 were not. I hope as a mom, a human and a lawyer that the California high court is courageous enough to reverse this decision. I hope that the ICWA is declared unconstitutional in its present form and the Lexis Law becomes law and prevents any further abuse of ICWA by tribes. You do not get to predetermine the best interests of a child because of her or his race. And, lastly, I pray that relief from this horrible abuse by the Choctaw and Lexis step relatives of ICWA, comes to an swiftly to prevent her from irreparable harm.

Katia Šimić Sadowski
Katia Šimić Sadowski
Submitted by Katia Šimić Sadowski on
AND DID ANYONE ASKED LEXI WHAT SHE WANTS???? DO YOU EVEN CARE????!!! SHAME ON YOU, ALL OF YOU!! STOP TRAUMATIZING THE CHILD A***HOLES

Cherokeegirl's picture
Cherokeegirl
Submitted by Cherokeegirl on
REALLY!!! There is another way, Please, please return Lexi to the Pages. A family is not who you are born to but who is there everyday raising you, loving you. Lexi belongs with the Pages. . Hypocrisy is at it's finest. "In a statement, the tribe said it wants what is best for the child." You think this is best for the child? You have to be kidding me. She is 1 1/2% Choctaw and you ripped her from the only parents she knew and loved. You have exerted your "power" and the child is now destroyed because of your arrogance. "The Choctaw Nation desires the best for this Choctaw child." Have you all lost your minds? This is about power not about Lexi. I do not even know the family and I am 1/4 Cherokee and was adopted by a non-Native American family and still honored my heritage. I have the common sense that you do not. Never remove a child that is thriving no matter what is in her DNA. "The tribe's values of faith, family and culture are what makes our tribal identity so important to us." The very values you claim as important you did not value for Lexi. She had faith, family and culture. This does not bring honor to the Choctaw nation. Would it not have been easier to ask them to honor her heritage, although minuscule they can provide valuable experiences. Perhaps allowing for visitation with her biological siblings. This was as bad as kidnapping and Lexi will suffer the consequences of your actions. Her foster-siblings in the Pages home will also suffer and never be the same. "Therefore we will continue to work to maintain these values and work toward the long-term best interest of this child,' it said." Long term, short term, you have become the villain, an embarrassment to other Native Americans. You have damaged a nation by your actions. To "Old Lady" 1 1/2 % does not a Native child make.

Lou's picture
Lou
Submitted by Lou on
WOW.....come on people, turn on your critical thinking/reading skills!! "Voice of Reason"? This article is anything but that. Notice that this article constantly states "her family", "her family", "her family" over and over again. This makes you, as the reader, think that the family in Utah is her actual blood related family, or "Extended family", if you will. However, anyone who has actually been reading and following this case will know that this isn't true. The "family" she's with in Utah is NOT related to Lexi by blood in anyway. Surely there is a better answer then taking Lexi away from her true family who has been trying to adopt her for years. She can still have a relationship with her sisters without having to live with their adopted family. Also, shame on the Choctaw tribe for vilifying the only family Lexi has known (Foster to Adopt is NOT the same as Foster care, FYI to the writer of this article). They are fighting to keep the child they love and see as a daughter. Also, anyone who has read the actual details of the case would know that Lexi has maybe a drop or two of Choctaw blood in her which does not give this Tribe the right to stand on a political platform at the expense of this child. Poorly done Choctaw Tribe!
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