After the Norwegian government seized five children from their family, citing the parents’ Christian beliefs, activists are fighting back to bring the kids home.
The Home School Legal Defense Association on Tuesday released a video documenting the story of the Bodnariu family, from whom five children, ranging from 3 months to 9 years in age, were taken last November.
Norwegian child services, known as Barnevernet, removed the family’s two eldest daughters from school on Nov. 16 without the parents’ knowledge, and later in the day arrived at the Bodnariu home to take two of the three sons.
Marius Bodnariu, an information technician, rushed home from work and went with his wife, Ruth, to the police station to find out what was the matter, but received no answers.
The next day, police arrived back at the Bodnariu home to take the family’s 3-month-old son, Ezekiel, saying Ruth’s emotional display at the police station was a sign that the baby was in danger.
“We were expecting them to come talk how we would get the other kids back, what they consider that we need of help, how we could become better parents when they consider us not to be that,” Ruth Bodnariu says in the video. “So we were waiting for them to come to talk with us or call us to their office. We did not expect them to come and take Ezekiel. That was a shock.”
Barneverent officials prevented the parents from seeing their children for two months, only saying they were “integrating well” into two separate foster homes, according to a WORLD magazine report.
The family eventually received documents detailing the cause of the removal, according to a Facebook post made on Dec. 2 by Daniel Bodnariu, Marius Bodnariu’s brother.
The investigation reportedly started when the principal at the daughters’ school notified child services that she had concerns about the parents’ “very Christian” beliefs, fearing they needed “help and guidance” raising their children.
The girls were interrogated at their school for two hours, saying they would occasionally hide from their dad for fear of being punished by spanking. Neither girl said they were afraid to go home.
One of the girls said her father shook the baby “as a rag” on one occasion, after Ezekiel removed his father’s glasses. But Mr. Bodnariu said he was jubilantly bouncing the baby up and down in his arms. X-rays and a CT scan of Ezekiel showed no signs of abuse, according to WORLD magazine.
On a follow-up interview, the girl repeated the story, but then said, “I am tired. I don’t know what else to make up,” documents showed.
A judge ordered Ezekiel returned to his parents in April, after more than four months. But Barnevernet has filed court documents to terminate the couple’s parental rights for the other four children.
Protests sprouted in more than 50 international locations last month to demand the return of the children.
At one of the protest sites, HSLDA Director of Global Outreach Michael Donnelly, called Norway’s actions a violation of human rights.
“I call upon the authorities of this community, of this country, to return the children home,” Mr. Donnelly said at the protest. “Stop this trauma. Every day is a trauma for these children.”
An online petition to reunite the family has received 63,048 signatures.
“We are been hoping and praying that God will bring them home, and we are anxiously waiting for the moment to be reunified,” Mrs. Bodnariu says in the video.
• Bradford Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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