Typically when a child is placed in foster care, there is a concurrent plan developed—a plan that is set forth & traced by the courts. (http://policy.dcfs.lacounty.gov/content/Concurrent_Planning_And.htm#COMPLETINGINITIALCPA)
As noted in the 2014 Court of Appeals document, it wasn’t until after reunification services were terminated that DCFS communicated the plan to move Lexi to Utah.
- “After reunification efforts failed, the father, the tribe, and the Department of Children and Family Services (Department) recommended that the girl be placed in Utah with a non-Indian couple who are extended family of the father.” (Page 3, emphasis added)
- “The R.s first visited Alexandria shortly after the court terminated father’s reunification services.” (Page 7, emphasis added)
- “At some point after father’s reunification efforts failed, the P.s decided they wanted to adopt Alexandria. They discussed the issue with the Department social worker, who advised them that the tribe had selected the R.s as the planned adoptive placement.” (Page 8, emphasis added)
If there has been wrong done to Lexi and the Utah family by delaying their meeting, that wrong was caused by the government.
The County & Tribe were so fixated on reunification that they broke the cardinal rule of concurrent planning. Instead, they allowed Lexi to become deeply bonded and attached (and they knew that was happening) without any regard to what would happen should reunification fail. Who could be surprised that a little girl would learn to love the only family she had truly known. During this time, the Utah family had no contact with Lexi at all.
During oral arguments, both Blake (minor’s appellate counsel) & Nemoy (County’s appellate counsel) assert that the Pages were aware of the intention to place Lexi with the R’s all along. This is simply not true. Blake’s credibility is suspect, even by himself, when he self-admitted his lack of experience with this case. Nemoy’s comment about an email correspondence is not backed up by anything in evidence. In fact, her statement is an unquestionable lie, seeing that she claimed the Pages admitted this in an email as early as 10/2011, despite the fact that Lexi was not even placed in their home until 12/2011. Why would there be an email with the Pages about the Utah family before the Pages even knew of Lexi’s existence? It is possible that Nemoy may have been referring to the Rs correspondence with the tribe, as that did take place in 10/2011 according to the court record. But her statement during oral argument that the Pages knew about the Utah family early on, whether intentional or not, is completely false. There is no evidence in the record of the Pages knowing early on. To the contrary, all records show that not even the court knew about the family until after reunification services were terminated. Regardless, the tribe & County did not allow any contact, which infers that the P’s could have done nothing to facilitate Lexi’s relationship with the Utah family. This is one of many red herrings in this case.
Several other questions deal with this topic, so be sure to view those as well, they go into attachment and the importance of continuity in a child’s life.