This article was written by a resident of Naustdal (same county as the Bodnariu family) and published in the newspaper Firda. Translated by Marianne Skanland. Segments posted with permission:
“Personally I feel strongly for the [Bodnariu] family and I believe they are being treated very unjustly. It is a strange thing that this is what the rest of the world seems to believe also, just not in Norway and especially locally. I think most Norwegians are over-confident that Barnevernet does everything in the best interest of children. Everybody – government ministers, diplomats, county governors – rise to tell in complimentary words about the theoretically fantastic child protection set-up we have, without entering into the real world. I hope from my heart that this is what causes their behaviour.
But I do not believe it. In this case I believe and I feel that it is not.
By good fortune the larger newspapers have lately covered several child protection cases around the country, giving us shattering stories. On social media there are also links, to loads of terrible accounts by people in Norway who have experienced Barnevernet on its worst behaviour. Naustdal is hardly alone. It seems to me that proper investigation and renovation are needed, of laws, rules and procedures. It is not enough that an arrangement looks fine on paper. One must see to it that it functions in each individual case. I think there may be great variations between different county committees and not least between those working there.
All the secrecy in Norway appears to serve the county committees more than the affected families.
Everybody can go to social media and see authentic recordings from actions with a family, the police and Barnevernet in action. I guarantee it is not a pleasant experience.
Regarding Naustdal, I understand it to have happened without warning. But from what I have heard, taking children away from their parents is supposed to be a last resort after everything else has been tried? Here, obviously, they have started at the wrong end. And where is it to end?
In addition, the parents have been charged and risk a criminal court case, a paragraph running to 6 years of prison being used. Does it take a month-long court case to get the children home? All this is to happen to a young woman who grew up on a farm in a community in Naustdal municipality, a woman who went to Romania to help street children there, met her husband there, came home and by and by had five children. Together with her husband she has lived for 10 years in their own house on the farm of her parents, where they all lived happily in a large family.
People ought to read carefully the desperate cry from the heart of the grandparents in an article in Firda on 10 February 2016.
I have to ask, what has Norway become?
Can such a thing happen only in Naustdal? Are people right abroad? Are these conditions such as we want to live with in Norway?”