A sobbing 6-year-old girl was pulled from the arms of her foster parents and bundled off to extended relatives because she is 1.5 percent Native American.
The child was removed in accordance with the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law designed to protect Native American children.
Lexi will be sent to live with extended Choctaw family members in Utah, authorities said.
Foster parents Rusty and Summer Page vowed to get the girl back, saying they love their daughter and have been caring for her since she was a toddler.
“Our family is so incredibly devastated. Our hearts are broken and we are trying to make sense of everything that has happened with our other three children who witnessed their sister Lexi forcefully ripped away from our family by strangers."
Rusty carried Lexi, who burrowed her face in his shoulder while clutching a teddy bear, to Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services officials waiting in the family’s driveway.
The Page family, surrounded by friends and supporters, wept as television cameras captured the emotional exchange. Afterward, the distraught foster parents could barely speak.
"She said, ‘Don’t let them take me!’’’ Rusty recounted, before being overcome by tears.
In a statement, the Choctaw Nation said “The tribe’s values of faith, family and culture are what make 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.”
Lexi’s parents surrendered their parental rights and the Pages have been trying to adopt the girl, who’s lived with them since she was two.
But extended relatives in Utah contend the child should be raised by Native American family members.