The Saugus family whose foster daughter, Lexi, was taken from their home last year is “heartbroken and disappointed” having learned Monday their appeal to keep the child was turned down by the state’s highest court.
Rusty and Summer Page found themselves at the center of international media coverage in March 2016 when their efforts to keep custody of Lexi, then six years old, elicited wide support from their community, neighborhood and church.
In the end, Los Angeles County child welfare workers removed the child from the family’s home on Ron Ridge Drive in Saugus on March 21, 2016.
The Page family fought on, however, and appealed immediately to the Supreme Court of California in a bid to keep Lexi, whose 1/64th Native American bloodline requires that she live with relatives.
On Monday, the state’s highest court declined to hear the family’s case.
Cathal Conneely, spokeswoman for the Judicial Council of California, told The Signal Monday that the petition filed by the Page family with the Supreme Court of the United States was denied.
“I talked to them this morning, and they’re heartbroken, they’re disappointed,” family friend and spokeswoman Janet Smith told The Signal.
“They’re out of options, as it pertains to their custody of Lexi, to have her come back home to live with them,” she said.
“Right now, they’re clinging to their faith,” Smith said. “They want to continue to be voice for other children in this predicament.”
Rusty and Summer Page said in a statement Monday that the high court’s decision is a “crushing blow,” according to the Associated Press.
For at least five years, the Pages fought efforts under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act to place Lexi with relatives of her father, who is part Choctaw. The Pages argued that Lexi has lived with them since the age of 2 and considers them her family.
However, a court found that the Pages had not proven Lexi would suffer emotional harm by the transfer.
The Pages have three children and want to adopt Lexi, who was 17 months old when she was removed from the custody of her birth parents. Her mother had substance abuse problems, and her father had a criminal history, according to court records.
A Los Angeles Superior Court, however, had ruled that the child be placed with relatives in Utah, Leslie Starr Heimov, executive director of the Children’s Law Center of California, which represents foster youths, said in March.
The Page family appealed the decision.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal in March, however, denied the petition filed by the Pages that would have prevented the girl’s removal from California.
Two days after the appellate court decision, friends, family and neighbors of the Page family began protesting the girl’s anticipated removal which became a very emotional scene with Summer Page screaming at child welfare workers and a relative of the family collapsing in the street as the county car drove away from the Pages’ Saugus home with the child.
On Monday, the Pages thanked their friends and supporters, Janet Smith said.
“I’m heartbroken too,” she said, noting “our faith has been our rock.”
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt