Officials in Norway have moved to place five children that were seized from their parents on charges that included “Christian radicalization and indoctrination” up for adoption, reports state.
As previously reported, on Nov. 16 and 17, Norway’s child welfare services, the Barnevernet, seized Marius and Ruth Bodnariu’s two daughters, two sons and their baby, Ezekiel. The two eldest children were reportedly removed from school without their parents knowledge, and then Barnevarnet representatives arrived with police at the Bodnariu home, where welfare services seized the remaining children, minus the baby.
The organization returned the following day and removed the infant as well after the family tried to resolve the matter after being arrested.
On Nov. 18, the Barnevernet told Ruth Bodnariu that the children had been split up with three separate families.
Marius Bodnariu’s brother, Daniel, who is a pastor, explained in a recent statement that the matter began when the children’s principal contacted welfare services after expressing concerns over how they were being raised, including in regard to the family’s Christian beliefs.
“The process of confiscating the Bodnariu children started when the Vevring School principal, the middle school attended by Eliana and Naomi, called the Barnevernet and expressed her concerns regarding the girls’ religious upbringing, her understanding that the girls are being disciplined at home, and that she considers the parents and grandmother to be radical Christians; an overriding concern that the principal’s perception of the parents’ and grandmother’s religious beliefs inhibit and handicap the girls’ development,” he outlined.
“In the same call to the Barnevernet, the principal stressed that she was only requesting the Barnevernet’s counseling services, as the girls are intelligent and creative, and that she, the principal, doesn’t believe that the girls are being physically abused at home,” Bodnariu said. “This same principal had previously scolded and categorically forbid one of the Bodnariu girls from singing as a result of the girl singing a Christian song to her schoolmates.”
But despite the principal’s request for counseling only, the Barnevernet instead pursued proceedings against the parents, alleging that they had abused the children.
“The Barnevernet ordered extensive medical examination of the children, as there was no evidence to support the allegations of physical abuse, but the medical reports emphasized that there was no sign of physical or mental abuse,” Bodnariu states.
He says that Norwegian officials claim that the children told them that they were abused, but the family rejects the notion.
The situation has sparked protests in the country and beyond, including on Dec. 21, when over 300 people protested at the Embassy of Norway in Bucharest, Romania. Supporters of the family held signs and banners such as “Norway, return the children to the Bodnariu family” and “Norway, give us back the children you stole.” On Dec. 26, over 400 protesters gathered in Madrid, Spain in support of the Bodnariu family, and other events are planned in the UK, Poland and Belgium.
In the meantime, the Romania Insider reports that Norwegian authorities have opened the adoption process for the children, which some believe is unlawful.
“Barnevernet is going ahead with the process of adoption because they say that such a long time has passed and now it is going to be traumatic for the children to be returned to their parents,” Cristian Ionescu, pastor of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago, told the Christian Post.
A gathering in support of the Bodnariu family has been scheduled for Jan. 8 at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C.