A Norwegian couple whose five children who were seized by the country’s child welfare services last November have now been reunited with their infant son.
“Baby Ezekiel has been returned to his parents! Praise the Lord!” wrote Cristian Ionescu, a Chicago-area pastor who is serving as a spokesperson for the Bodnariu family.
As previously reported, in November, the Barnevernet seized Marius and Ruth Bodnariu’s two daughters, two sons and 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.
Marius Bodnariu’s brother, Daniel, who is a pastor, explained in an online 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.
During the course of the case, the discussion turned to abuse allegations as Barnevernet expressed concern that the children might have been spanked, which is illegal in Norway. The grandparents of the children, who have lived with the family at times, have rejected the allegations completely.
“We can assure that we have never seen that violence has been used against the children,” the grandfather said in a recent blog post. “Not even that they have raised their voices to them. The children themselves have never told us that the parents have been nasty to them.”
The family has been fighting for the past five months for the return of the children, and this week, a judge sided with the Bodnariu’s that baby Ezekiel should be with this parents.
“[The] judge partially ruled in support of the Bodnariu family: the custody decision for Ezekiel has been reversed! The judge instructed that Baby Ezekiel should go to be home with his biological parents!” Ionescu announced on Tuesday.
“The judge also ruled that Marius & Ruth will be allowed to see the two older boys twice a week for two hours at a time,” he also noted. “There is no news yet pertaining to the girls.”
The Bodnarius will continue to seek the return of their four other children as protests continue in various locations throughout the globe.