(Reuters) - A 6-year-old California girl was removed from her long time foster family on Monday and will be sent to live with extended family in Utah who share her Native American heritage, according to court documents.
An appeals court said last week the girl was subject to removal from her foster family's home in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, under the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families.
The child cried as Los Angeles County social workers carried her from the home on Monday, while dozens of supporters of the family lined the block to protest against the court's decision, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The child is 1.56 percent Choctaw Native American, NBC News and the Los Angeles Daily News reported. She has lived with her foster family for the past four years.
Her foster parents, Rusty and Summer Page, intend to file a petition with the California Supreme Court to try and keep the girl in the state, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
The National Indian Child Welfare Association said in a statement the girl's relocation to Utah was in her best interest and her family was aware that, as a Native American child, her case was subject to the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
"The only surprising turn of events is the lengths the foster family has gone to, under the advice of an attorney
with a long history of trying to overturn ICWA, to drag out litigation as long as possible, creating instability for the child in question," the group said.
The Los Angeles Times reports the girl has visited the relatives she will be living with in Utah, and they also care for one of her sisters.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in New York; Editing by Paul Tait)