Turtle Talk has posted the latest developments in the #BabyAlexandria (Lexie) case out of California. I have my own concerns.
The daily media circus is being manipulated and slanted, as we would expect from the same players who participated in the Baby Veronica case.
The Pages (Lexie's foster parents) are deliberately playing out their case in front of television cameras, a glaring manipulation of media and the public, seeking their 15 minutes of fame. These people seem oblivious to how racist it is to use a child, demean her blood quantum, just to elicit and gain sympathy for themselves.
Remember her foster family filed appeals three times, delaying Alexandria's rights to be with her own family and siblings. Now Lexie is home, and safe.
"Finally, the use of the media in this case to inflame opinion, spread false information about the situation, publicize a child’s name and face, and to try to dismantle ICWA itself [again] is deplorable," Kate Fort said in her Turtle Talk post (see below).
Choctaw Nation’s statement.
The following statement reflects the Choctaw Nation's position on the case of Lexi.
We appreciate the concern for Lexi and want to assure everyone she is in a safe, loving home with her relatives and her biological sisters.
The Choctaw Nation has advocated for Lexi to live with her family since 2011. These relatives have been a part of Lexi’s life for almost five years. They are not strangers. They have maintained a relationship with her, visiting her in California, making regular SKYPE calls, and Lexi has also been on extended visits to Utah.
The family has been waiting for five years for all of them to be together.
Foster care is a much-needed temporary service provided for children until the child can be returned to the care of his or her family. Placement with family is the gold-standard of any child-custody case, not just a case involving tribal children. The Pages were always aware of this goal.
Many steps have been taken by the Choctaw Nation to ensure the best placement of Lexi. An independent clinical psychologist was brought in to gauge her ability to transition from the foster home to her relatives. The California court appointed a marriage and family therapist to perform a child custody evaluation to assess the mental health and parenting practices of both parties. The experts along with Lexi’s long-time individual therapists, her social worker and her attorney, all agree it is in her best interest to be with her relatives. The foster family understood this. All children, not just Native children, do better with caring relatives.
The case was decided in the California court system three separate times, with three different trial court judges ruling in favor of Lexi’s relatives in Utah. We, as a tribe, are required to follow federal law. The foster family filed appeals three times to keep Lexi, delaying the reuniting of Lexi with her relatives.
Lexi’s safety and wellbeing are the Choctaw Nation’s paramount concern.
Her family will provide her a safe, stable and nurturing home to grow up with her sisters and to have contact with her extensive extended family.
Please respect the privacy of Lexi and her family.
Turtle Talk will continue to add statements from other groups as we receive them. And, because it’s what we do, we’ve created a page with all of the publicly available primary source documents in this case. You can find that here. (see below)
The foster parents’ attorney has issued a statement claiming she will use this case to appeal ICWA up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. We’ve heard this before, and there are very few legal routes left for them to do that, but we still expect they will try them all.
Meanwhile, this case is not just about Indian Country. The role of foster care in this country is clear–to provide a temporary, loving home for a child while her family receives services to so the child can go home safely. It is also provides time for the state to search for other -relative- homes for the child. This is a best practice regardless of whether the child is Native or not. It’s actually state law in California. Ann.Cal.Welf. & Inst.Code § 361.3. In fact, it’s the law in a lot of states. That’s because relative preference in placement is also required by the federal government for states to receive Title IV-E funding. 25 U.S.C. 671(a)(19). Preventing a child from living with her siblings and relatives –family she knows, and who have spent considerable time planning this transition– contrary to court order is not the role of foster parents.
Finally, the use of the media in this case to inflame opinion, spread false information about the situation, publicize a child’s name and face, and to try to dismantle ICWA itself [again] is deplorable. The type of comments that NICWA, the California Children’s Law Center, Choctaw Nation and other individuals are receiving, particularly on social media, should disturb us all. Those taking the brunt of this deserve our full support and thanks.
In re Alexandria P.A note on using a child’s name for this page–that is the name of the only reported appellate case in this situation. It’s the citation we all have to use.
Docket from the California Court of Appeals for the In re Alexandria P. appellate decision.
Turtle Talk post on the case.
Docket from the California Supreme Court denying review.
Unpublished decision after lower court keeps placement order with family.
Docket from the unpublished decision.
Docket from March Petition for Writ of Supersedeas
Statement from NICWA
Turtle Talk post
Follow up Statement from NICWA
Statement from Choctaw Nation