After seizing five children from their home in November, Norway’s child services agency has already initiated their adoption process over concerns stemming from the parents’ Christian faith.
All of Marius and Ruth Bodnariu’s young children were taken into custody in November following a concern cited by the principal of the middle school attended by their two oldest daughters — a concern based on the children being taught at home that God punishes sin.
The Christian Post reports that the principal had a problem with the students’ Christian upbringing, but only asked Norwegian child services (the Barnevernet) to offer counseling services to the family — not the children’s removal from their home. However, state workers subsequently seized all five of the Bodnariu’s children on a claim that they were physically abused by their parents.
As the adoption process for their five children was about to start, the Romanian Pentecostal parents living in Norway were disturbed to find out that their young children had been split up — with little to no visitation rights.
“The children, including a nursing infant son, have now been placed in three separate foster homes while their parents have been given extremely limited visitation rights,” the Christian Posts’ Samuel Smith informed. “Although both parents can see their infant son twice a week, only Ruth can visit with her two oldest sons once per week while neither parent can visit their daughters.”
Where’s the proof?
The father’s brother, Daniel Bodnariu, maintains that Marius and his wife have never abused or mistreated their children — insisting that they only receive “light punishments” that are virtually painless for their bad behavior. The father’s brother-in-law pointed out that no physical or medical evidence exists to show that any kind of abuse took place — only the children’s testimony, which he says were spurred by unethical and manipulative questioning.
"They said it was the belief of the parents, the Christian belief, and they said this creates a handicap in children because they are telling children that God punishes sin, and this is wrong in their point of view," Daniel Bodnariu told the Christian Post. "In the [formal] accusations, they didn't mention the religious aspect, only make the case on abuse, even though there is no evidence."
According to the brother, the child services agency took the children into custody prior to conducting a background check on their parents or interviewing family, friends or neighbors. Regardless, the Norwegian agency rejected the parents’ late November appeal of their children’s seizure and didn’t request to evaluate them until December 15.
Shocking to many, despite the fact that the parent’s evaluation won’t take place until February, the adoption process of the children to be displaced into other families has already been initiated. Bodnariu noted that the family’s attorney advised the parents to push for their lawsuit to be reviewed by a Norwegian superior court.
Unlawful abduction by the state?
The United States and Canada’s Romanian Pentecostal Union Vice President Cristian Ionescu argues that until a court decision, the Norwegian agency’s initiation of the children’s adoption process is illegal. He has organized a protest in Washington, D.C., at the Norwegian Embassy to be held on January 8 to protest the Scandinavian government’s allegedly unlawful handling of the Bodnariu children.
"It's unclear and they use very vague language, [regarding what initiating the adoption procedure actually means] but it is absolutely incomprehensible to seek more information about the family and to assess them some more, but in the meantime go ahead with the adoption process," Ionescu expressed to the Christian Post in an interview last week. "They cannot — usually in the United States and in many countries — you cannot start the process for adoption until the last decision of the judiciary, of the courts, has been made. They are going parallel with that."
Ionescu contends that the Barnevernet (Norway’s child services agency) has a track record overstepping its authority, noting a case two years ago when the Radulescu family won a lawsuit against the agency at Norway’s Supreme Court. However, the pastor of Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago says this loss has not discouraged the Barnevernet from continuing its abuse of the system.
"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," Ionescu informed.
Protests in Norwegian embassies in Spain and Romania have pulled together hundreds of supporters for the Bodnariu family. More have been slated this month to take place in the Norwegian embassies in England, Canada, Germany, Poland, India, Belgium and the Czech Republic. Ionescu insists that these peaceful demonstrations are the ideal place for people to take a stand against the repeated abuse of power administered by the Barnevernet.
"The reason we have this response for the Bodnariu family is because they have a very big family in Romania and in the United States," Ionescu continued. "Secondly, we have a very, very strong and well-knit Romanian Pentecostal community here in the United States and throughout Europe."
The Christian leader promised that the Bodnaiu children won’t be adopted without a good fight.
"This is an issue that is not going to die down for us," Ionescu concluded. "The community is very, very motivated and we are not going to stop and it is not going to end until we see those children released to their parents. We are prepared to go for the long run. If it takes years, then so be it — we are not going to stop."