This is the third in a series of WND reports on Lexi, the Page family and the Indian Child Welfare Act. Read part I, “Family fights to regain girl with Indian blood” and part II, “New hope for family fighting to keep ‘Indian’ girl.

WASHINGTON – She’s the little girl who brings grown men to tears.

Watch the video, read her story, and you’ll know why.

Lexi is the six-year-old girl who was taken from her family by the state of California and sent to live with a non-blood relative in Utah, a virtual stranger, all because she is 1/64th Native American.

Her foster parents of four years desperately want her back and to adopt her. That’s what she wants, too.

And now Lexi’s cause has gone global.

That’s thanks to the petition, “Bring Lexi Home,” signed by 122,316 supporters in all 50 states and more than 95 countries around the world.

It’s also thanks to the remarkable video above, so simple but so powerful, in which people from across the globe speak for the girl who had no say in losing the only family she has ever known, with the simple words, “I am Lexi’s voice.”

People from Washington, New York and Hollywood to London and Paris, Australia, Uganda, Sweden, Japan, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Israel, South Korea, Iceland and Albania.

The video was made by Graham Kelley, who considers himself Lexi’s uncle. Summer Page is his sister, and she and her husband, Rusty, have raised Lexi, the girl no one else would take in, the girl they were begged to take in by social workers, as a member of their family for the last four years.

Kelley told WND the reaction to the video has been extraordinary.

“Most people’s response has been, ‘I cried. At least once.'”

“A lot of grown men did that. More than women, I notice,” reflected Kelley.

“A lot of grown men said, ‘You know, I was crying watching it.’ So, to me it’s just a reminder that this hits everyone in the heart. And in their conscience.”

“This is not right,” he asserted. “And it’s powerful to see. It’s not often you get this many people in such a short time to come behind a cause. Usually when that happens, it means something’s not right. And that’s why these people are doing this.”

And that’s why he feels his video struck such a responsive chord.

“Everyone,” he exclaimed with emphasis, “wants to speak on behalf of what is right, and what should be happening.”

Rusty Page prepares to turn over Lexi to the government on March 21

Rusty Page prepares to turn over Lexi to the government on March 21

Kelley believes the video resonates with so many people because, “There’s truth in this. There’s emotion. There’s heart behind it. And the reason why is because, in the middle of all, is this child who is suffering. And she has been put out and ignored because other people who have power and an agenda of their own. Rather than what she wants. Rather than what’s best for her.”

And when heartstrings are tugged these days, the ripple effects can quickly spread overseas and swell around the world.

“In this day and age, when [something like this] happens, people are not going to stop,” said Kelley. “People are going to continually speak on behalf of a person who is suffering. That’s the power of these times, the power of social media. There are a lot of pitfalls, but this is definitely one of the strengths.”

DONATE to the Go Fund Me account to help the Pages pay for their ever-rising legal fees: $45,975 out of the goal of $50,000 has been raised by 779 people in 27 days.

SIGN the petition: 120,466 supporters have signed, leaving just 29,534 needed to reach the goal of 150,000

VISIT the Facebook page

Lexi has been in the middle of a protracted legal battle, with her case heard three times in lower courts and twice in the California Court of Appeals. It all came to a heart-wrenching head when she was seized by the state on March 21 from her Santa Clarita home in the Los Angeles area and whisked off to Utah, under the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA. Even though Lexi has a mere 1.5 percent Choctaw blood, the tribe has claimed her as one of their own and insisted she live with a relative, even though that person, a step-second cousin, is not even a Native American or a blood relative.

Lexi’s biological mother is struggling with drug addiction and gave up the child when she was 17 months old. Lexi’s father has a criminal record of grand theft and domestic abuse and has terminated efforts to reunite with the child.

However, the Page family has reason to hope Lexi could return to them as early as this summer.

As WND reported last week, the California Court of Appeals has granted the Page’s motion for an expedited hearing. That court has twice ruled in favor of the family. If it now rules that Lexi’s case has “good cause” to be considered an exception to ICWA, Lexi will come home for good.

Everyone involved in the case, including the Choctaw tribe, Lexi’s birth parents and county agents, agree Lexi has formed an exceptionally strong bond with Rusty and Summer Page. The girl considers the couple to be her parents and the Pages to be her family.

Summer Page and her children look on in horror as Lexi is taken away

Summer Page and her children look on in horror as Lexi is taken away

Kelley can testify to that.

He lives eight minutes from the Pages and said he’s known Lexi since she first arrived, and she has been a big part of his life, and his wife’s life, ever since.

“We love her and care for her as family, forever. I care about her as a member of my own family. I care about her deeply. My wife and I both think about her every day. We pray for her every day.”

And Lexi is not alone in her suffering.

“We pray for her siblings, too. This is not just affecting Lexi. This is affecting many people, as you can tell by the video.”

“Our hearts are sad and broken over this,” Kelley softly but emphatically reflected. “We know Lexi. We know she loves her brother and sisters. We know how much she looks up to her big sister and adores her. We know, we’ve seen her take care of her baby sister ever since the day she was born. I’ve seen her love her, care for her.”

It’s an extraordinary situation. Legally, Lexi may be a foster child. But she has spent the last four of her six years in life forming, by all accounts, an intense emotional bond with the Pages. They consider her their daughter every bit as much as their biological children. Only ICWA has kept Lexi from becoming their daughter in the eyes of the law.

She calls Summer and Rusty “mom” and “dad.” But it wasn’t always that way. And it wasn’t always easy.

“I’ve just seen her grow and fall in love with her family,” recalled Kelley. “It’s just a beautiful thing to be a part of, and watch. It’s been incredible. She came in as a child that had a lot of issues. I wasn’t there to see all of it, but I saw a lot of it. She was very much all over the place.”

But change came. Lexi became a part of the family. And, Kelley said, it was her choice. He told WND that no one in the family ever told Lexi to call them dad, or mom, or aunt or uncle.

“No, no one ever said that to her. She identified us as her family as her own choice. Falling in love with us as family, and admitting us into her life in that way, was her own choice. At that point, it became like, ‘Well, we’re in love with her and care for her just as much as we love all our other family members because she chose us as her family.’ And we really care for her that way,” he said quietly.

“It’s who she was. She didn’t identify us as a foster family. She didn’t identify her family as scattered somewhere else. She had made the decision on her own. This was her family. And this is who she loved. And this is who she played with. This is who she spent her weekends with. Those were her decisions. She made that decision a long time ago and was totally content and at peace.”

She simply captured their hearts, the way she has with so many others who’ve shared their Lexi stories with WND.

“She’s a really funny, funny kid. She loves joking, she loves being playful, and she’s not very shy at all,” laughed Kelley.

He and his wife of three years have not had children of their own, so the Page children became “like our kids away from kids.”

An inconsolable Rusty Page after Lexi was taken away

Kelley tried to console Page after Lexi was taken away

What gave him the idea for the video?

“I know the power of video. I know the power of capturing people’s emotions. I wanted to use that and the video skills that I have to contribute to Lexi’s cause and help her be heard.”

Kelley, who has experience editing videos, first made one that was a montage of photographs, after asking people to send in pictures showing their support for Lexi.

“I was sitting with my friend and editing it, and we were finding ourselves very emotional. It was just so amazing. If only Lexi could see this. If only she could feel how much so many people love and support her, knowing her personality, she would just go crazy over that. It would just be so cool for her to see how many people are supporting her. She would’ve loved that.”

That was when he first thought, “Maybe we should do a video where people are actually speaking for Lexi and be Lexi’s voice. So we threw the idea around and wondered what that would be. How could we capture that visually? And we came up with the phrase, “I am Lexi’s voice.”

Friends gather to sing and pray for Summer and Rusty Page

Friends gather to sing and pray for Summer and Rusty Page

How did he contact all those people, and how did he get video from so many people from so many places?

“The power of networking,” was the simple response. “Especially in a situation like this. It just starts off with a couple of emails to a couple of people, and we said, ‘Hey this is who we’re looking for,’ and then people would say, ‘Oh I know someone and I know another supporter who would want to do this.’ Actually, it’s quite easy to find people who can and want to be supporting this cause and who want to be Lexi’s voice. People were enthusiastic and naturally supportive.”

Kelley said he wanted to do the video as quickly as possible, but insisted the response was so strong, given a little more time, he could have gotten clips from every state and every country.

“The process was quite easy. And with social media, once you get the snowball effect going, it just kind of builds and builds, and more and more people respond.”

But he doesn’t take it for granted, telling WND, “We’ve just been so moved by the amount of support we saw, in just such a short time.”

Kelley explained, as her uncle, he felt it was his responsibility to make sure people remember her: “It’s everyone’s responsibility. We are responsible as human beings to care for kids that are hurting. Kids want to be heard, but she can’t. I would think everyone would agree with that; we should speak up for kids. Because everyone agrees with that phrase, there’s so much power in that.”

Part of the reason for making the video was just to keep reminding people, “This still going on. This is someone we should all speak for.”

The Page family kids, with a blurred image of Lexi

The Page family kids, with a blurred image of Lexi

Three days before Lexi was taken, Kelley and his wife took the Page kids to an arcade for a water bumper car ride.

When they assembled on the dock afterward, someone was missing.

“We look around for Lexi, and she’s in the middle doing doughnuts in her boat. Finally, she gets her boat to the dock and gets out, and she and I have an uncle and niece moment. I looked at her and told her that was hilarious. She looked like she knew it was kind of a dumb, but also kind of fun.”

The exchange suddenly turned so bittersweet, it hurt.

“At that moment, it broke my heart because she didn’t know what was going on at all. I could see her love in that moment and how much she adored her aunt and uncle and her brother and her sisters, and how precious it was to just be a family that night. The possibility of her going away, she had no idea. It just killed me. I remember just wanting to stop time.”

Three days later, time took its toll.

“To me, as a human being, and especially as her uncle, to see her not wanting them to take her away, her pleading with her dad not to let the social workers take her away, to me that’s just a picture of wrong. Of evil.”

Kelley said the reason why the video so powerful is that, ultimately, love always triumphs over evil.

“Ignoring the kid pleading not to take her away from the people who she loves …”

The exasperated uncle just let the thought hang in the air.

“Whether blood related or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s who the kid identifies with, it’s who she loves. It’s who she is at peace with. So, for me as her uncle, I am never going to stop fighting for her. To me, that would be breaking that trust, that promise that we made that we care for her and love her, and to protect her,” he vowed.

He called the video a “small, small manifestation of that love and care that we have for her. And as a family, we all promise that we will fight for her forever.”

“My prayer is that it is a very short, short battle,” Kelley concluded. “But at the end of the day, we are never going to stop. We’re always going to make these videos. We are always going to create whatever we need to, whether it is speaking in public or doing an interview like now, we will always, always, always fight for Lexi and fight for her family.”

“That’s what family does.”

lexi 8

DONATE to the Go Fund Me account to help the Pages pay for their ever-rising legal fees: $45,975 out of the goal of $50,000 has been raised by 779 people in 27 days.

SIGN the petition: 120,466 supporters have signed, leaving just 29,534 needed to reach the goal of 150,000

VISIT the Facebook page

The following are the basics and some of the astounding highlights of the Lexi case:

  • Lexi is 6. She had lived with the foster family of Rusty and Summer Page since the age of 25 months, after living with two previous foster families.
  • Lexi was 17 months old when she was removed from the custody of her birth mother, who had a long history of drug abuse and had lost custody of at least six other children.
  • The Choctaw tribe wanted to reunite Lexi with her biological father, even though he had an extensive criminal record and had lost custody of one other child.
  • Lexi was taken from the Page family, seized by the state on March 21, screaming and clutching her teddy bear, and relocated to live in Utah.
  • Lexi was taken under the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, because she is 1/64th Choctaw. That’s 1.5 percent.
  • ICWA gives tribes authority over placement of children who qualify for tribal membership; in the case of the Choctaw, that is children who have any trace of Choctaw blood.
  • But the woman she’s been placed with is neither a blood relative nor an Indian. However, Lexi’s foster mother, Summer Page, is part Indian: the Tuscarora Tribe.
  • Lexi is now in the care of a woman named Ginger, whose uncle is Lexi’s step-grandfather. That makes Ginger a step-second cousin.
  • On March 30, the California Supreme Court refused to intervene in the case. But an appeal to return Lexi to the Pages is still before the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles. The Page’s attorney plans to take the case as far as the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
  • The Pages have not been able to speak with Lexi since she was moved, even though they were assured they would.
  • Lauren Axline of Valencia, California, who was the foster social worker on Lexi’s case for three-and-a-half years, said: “I can speak of the deceptive, crooked, and destructive things the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) social workers and lawyers have done that are not in the best interest of this child or her future.”
  • She added: “I can also speak of the amazing Page family and how they have loved Lexi from day one and how much Lexi is truly a part of their family. They took a scared two-year-old who didn’t know a parent from a stranger and helped form this beautiful, silly, confident, loving, stable little six-year-old by the love and nurture they provided for her in their home the last four-and-a-half years.”
  • Axline described the Native American unit of the Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services as “deceptive” and “crooked.”
  • The slight tribal heritage of the biological father is the reason Lexi was seized, although she will not be returned to him.
  • Lexi and her biological father have never lived on a reservation or been subject to tribal law before.
  • Axline told the London Daily Mail that on trips to visit her father, Lexi seemed traumatized and scared to death of him: She would hide and cry hysterically.
  • The father has a criminal record, including drug use and grand theft auto and, most alarmingly, domestic battery.
  • Axline said she believed the foster agency handling Lexi’s case hid key facts, overlooked damning visitation reports and refused to put the child’s best interests first.
  • Axline said the Native American unit of the DCFS has behaved terribly and she wants to expose their “lies” and “cover-ups.” But she said the DCFS continued to ignore her reports.
  • She said, “Instead of writing Lexi was ‘hysterically crying’ during visits with the family she now lives with in Utah, as I told them, they would put, ‘Lexi had such a fun time at Disneyland when they went, she was smiling and laughing.’ It was completely deceptive.”
  • Axline said it got so bad that her agency began reporting directly to the court so they could at least see both sides.
  • “It doesn’t make any sense, Summer Page is native non-blood but the family in Utah is non-native, non-blood,” she said.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma issued a statement on the case:

The Choctaw Nation’s values of faith, family and culture are what makes our tribal identity so important to us. From the beginning of this case, the Choctaw Nation advocated for Lexi’s placement with her family.

Lexi’s family was identified early on, and they have created a loving relationship with her. The Pages were always aware that the goal was to place Lexi with her family, and her permanent placement has been delayed due to the Pages’ opposition to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

We understand the public’s concerns for Lexi’s well being as this is our main focus, but it is important to respect the privacy of this little girl. We believe that following the Choctaw Nation’s values is in Lexi’s best interest.

The Choctaw Nation will continue to uphold these values and advocate for Lexi’s long-term best interest.

Here’s how you can help the Page family:

DONATE to the Go Fund Me account to help the Pages pay for their ever-rising legal fees: $45,975 out of the goal of $50,000 has been raised by 779 people in 27 days.

SIGN the petition: 120,466 supporters have signed, leaving just 29,534 needed to reach the goal of 150,000

VISIT the Facebook page

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