The Indian Child Welfare Act, developed to protect Native children from the horrors of the past when Indian children were taken from their families, has come between a child and her foster family. Ostensibly designed to protect Native children, to ensure they are kept with Native families, this case of Lexi, a foster child in CA is making news.
From a FOX 11 News Story:
Lexi has 1.5 percent Native American blood, and because of that, she's about to be removed from the only home she's ever known. Both of her biological parents have been out of the picture since she was around age 2.
"Lexi doesn't know another home. She finally knows what mom and dad means and they want to take that away from her, and we can't stand idly by while that happens," Rusty said.
"This little girl, we are her home. This is her family and that can all be rocked tomorrow," Summer said.
On Friday, in the middle of their litigation, the court system lifted the families "emergency stay."
"She doesn't know tomorrow might be her last day in this house. None of our kids do. We are under specific orders not to tell any of them what's happening," Rusty said.
As hard as it is, and as scary as it is to go up against the people we going up against, we're putting everything on the line. A mom is not going to sit back, a dad is not going to sit back. We're going to fight until the very end," Summer said.
This child will be placed with a NON-Native family, not blood related in UT, away from the only family she has known. Is this what is best for the child? It definitely WOULD have been 3 years ago.
In a statement, a court appointed attorney for Lexi said, "Her family in Utah have been waiting to receive her for over 3 years, during that time they have traveled to California monthly and she has visited their home as well.
"The injustice here is not that she is leaving California but rather that her foster parents pursued litigation which prevented her from joining her family sooner."
In another statement, the Choctaw Nation said it wants what is best for Lexi.
"The Choctaw Nation desires the best for this Choctaw child. The tribe's values of faith, family and culture are what makes our tribal identity so important to us. Therefore we will continue to work to maintain these values and work toward the long-term best interest of this child," it said.
In an ICWA revision press release, it states:
Several long-term studies have been conducted of Native American adult adoptees. Despite socioeconomic advantages that many of them received by virtue of their adoption, long term studies reflect that these adoptees experienced increased rates of depression, low self-esteem, and suicide. In addition, many adult adoptees continue to struggle with their identities and have reported feelings of loneliness and isolation. Today, the number of Native American children in foster care alone is still alarmingly high, and they are still more than twice as likely to be placed in foster care overall.
Is it time for a study on the experiences of depression, low esteem and suicide on children who have been discarded, sometimes by non-Indian leaders? Think about this: The news release continues: Protecting Indian children reflects the highest ideals of the trust responsibility to Indian tribes and the guidelines issued today are a part of this Administration’s broader approach to ensuring compliance with ICWA. This statement begs the question:
WHO has the trust responsibility to protect the now individual Indian children and ensuring the protections that the ICWA, provides Indian Children?
We can't even get the Secretary to LISTEN, or respond to repeated questions for help. Where are the Indian child welfare advocates to work on behalf of the Indian children who no longer have their heritage and whose ancestors have been desecrated by disenrollment.
There are NON-Indian children, enrolled in Indian tribes who are protected by the ICWA, while a thousand Indian children, some removed by non-Indian tribal leaders, are cast aside, receiving no protection, and to whom the Indian Child Welfare Act now does not apply. TheBIA recognizes all tribal members as Indian, yet they have abdicated their trust responsibility to Indian children, hoping nobody will notice.
What say YOU?