Two days later, Barnevernet officials informed the couple the children were “integrating well” into two separate foster homes. The Bodnarius were accused of “Christian radicalism and indoctrination.” One of the officials allegedly said to Ruth, “The kids don’t even miss you. What kind of parents are you?” ChurchMilitant.com reported.
On Dec. 2, Daniel Bodnariu posted on Facebook the couple had finally received documents detailing what led up to the removal of their children. The investigation started when the principal where the girls attend school notified Barnevernet she had concerns about how the girls were disciplined at home because the parents were “very Christian,” as was the extended family. She said the family had “a strong faith that God punishes sin” that “creates disability in children.” The principal noted although the girls were creative, intelligent, and showed no signs of physical abuse, she believed the parents needed “help and guidance” in raising their children.
Barnevernet workers interrogated the girls at school regarding their home life. The girls reported they sometimes hid things from their parents for fear of being punished by as pulling an ear or a slap across the behind or upside the head, but neither was afraid to go home.
One of the girls gave an example that the baby reached out and took Marius’ glasses off, whereupon he shook the baby “as a rag.” But Marius reports the story differently: He leaned over the baby and was thrilled when, for the first time, the baby reached out for him, so he took him in his arms and bounced him.
“Children can see things differently, and sometimes misinterpret some of our actions, or certain events,” Daniel Bodnariu wrote. “You can easily manipulate a child to say something that is not true. The law in Norway gives almost total credibility to the child and none to the parent. Some situations are seen differently by children [and] it seems a monstrosity to exploit this to the detriment of the family.”
The documents also revealed the baby received X-rays and a CT scan that showed no signs of abuse. In a follow up interrogation, the daughter reiterated Marius shook the baby, but then said, “I am tired. I don’t know what else to make up.”
Defining juvenile justice
Barnevernet has been under fire from the international community for years, accused of targeting immigrant families for child removal due to cultural misunderstanding and prejudice. A website called StopBarnevernet profiles dozens of stories of children being taken from families who immigrated from Lithuania, Brazil, Czech Republic, United States, Slovakia, Russia, India, Turkey, Sweden, and Iraq. Families who have had their children taken by Barnevernet also connect on a Facebook page called “Norway, give us back the children you stole.”
The Anti Juvenile Justice Agency (AJJA) is a European information agency that reports on the dangers of countries defining “juvenile justice” apart from the nuclear family.
“The main dilemma [in modern democratic states] is how to provide for and protect children without intruding on the parents’ rights of privacy and their right to a family life of their own choosing,” AJJA reported.
The Bodnariu’s story went viral via social media and church networking. Friends and family organized a variety of campaigns, from emailing Norwegian government officials to street protests. Mass demonstrations drawing tens of thousands have been held in over a dozen countries, with more planned through the end of the month. Cristian Ionescu started an online international petition on the family’s behalf. It had over 56,000 signatures as of today.
A delegation of 11 Romanian officials met with Barnevernet officials Wednesday to advocate for the release of the Bodnariu’s children, reported NRK, a Norwegian broadcasting company. But so far, the children remain in the custody of Barnevernet.