— KTLA (@KTLA) March 21, 2016
A 6-year-old California girl cried as she was removed from the foster home she lived in for four years, and sent to live with extended family in Utah who share her Native American heritage, Reuters reports. Her foster father, Rusty Page, said he was ordered by the court not to discuss the situation with the girl and that she had no idea she would be taken away. Her foster parents will file a petition with the California Supreme Court to try to keep her in the state.
An appeals court last week ruled that the girl is subject to removal from her home north of Los Angeles under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Several news outlets report that she is part Choctaw.
The Los Angeles Times reports the girl will be living with one of her sisters, and within walking distance of another, and had been visiting regularly with her relatives in Utah “for some time now.” The Page family made public a plea to the Utah relatives, saying in part: “Do not force her to spend one more night away from us and her siblings. Look her in the eyes and just ask her what she wants. She will tell you she wants to go home.”
In a comment on the opposition to the court’s ruling, The National Indian Child Welfare Association said in a statement: “The purpose of foster care is to provide temporary care for children while families get services and support to reunite with their children, not to fast-track the creation of new families when there is extended family available who want to care for the child.”