Six-year-old Lexi’s face was buried in the shoulder of the only dad she has ever known as she was carried down the driveway to a car that would take her to a new home in a state 700 miles away. All we could see was her pink shirt, her braided ponytail, and the teddy bear clutched in her right hand. As Lexi was placed into the back of the waiting black sedan, her distraught mother and siblings rushed from the house screaming, crying, and yelling to her that they loved her.
The footage is hard to watch, but the cameras were there because the Los Angeles County custody case illustrated to so many people the arbitrary and destructive hand of government. This girl was caught up in a toxic stew: a well-meaning, but sometimes abused, federal statute, and local officials who put identity politics ahead of a kid’s welfare.
Lexi, who has lived with foster parents Rusty and Summer Page since she was 17 months old, is being punished by the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, a federal law originally designed to keep Native American kids with Native American families. Except that Lexi is only 1.5 percent Choctaw Indian—and the family she’s being sent to live with in Utah isn’t Native American at all.