Over 300 persons protested on Saturday outside the Norwegian embassy in Bucharest, after Norwegian social services took away Bodnariu family’s children in an allegedly abusive manner and started international adoption procedures for them.
The National Child Protection and Adoption Authority (ANPDCA) will propose to the Norwegian authorities the transfer of the children into the custody of their paternal uncle in Romania, ANPDCA President Gabriela Coman stated for Mediafax.
The protest was organized in support of Romanian IT engineer Marius Bodnariu, his wife, Norwegian nurse Ruth, and their five children. The Bodnariu family lives in Norway. The children, the youngest of whom is just a few months old, were taken away from their parents by Barnevernet, the Norwegian social services, in November after the two eldest girls allegedly stated that their parents applied corporal punishments on them. Likewise, the parents are suspected of religiously indoctrinating their children.
The children have been transferred to three foster families and international adoption procedures have recently started for them, according to the family’s representatives.
Over 300 persons took part in the protest on Saturday. The protesters were persons close to the family and supporters. Daniel Bodnariu, Marius Bodnariu’s brother, also took part in the protest. The action, as well as family communiqués, was made public on the “Norway Return the Children to Bodnariu Family” Facebook page.
“We opened this page in order to come together in fasting, prayer and other actions for our brother Marius Bodnariu and his wife Ruth Johanne Bodnariu. Their children were taken away by child protection services on Monday, November 16. Marius was arrested and released a day later because he was not violent. The children were taken away because they were subjected to “religious indoctrination.” Pray for this hard-pressed family!” the Facebook page reads.
Protesters showed up with banners reading: “Children belong to family”, “Norway, do not separate Bodnariu family,” “Stop the Barnevernet”, “Norway, give us back the children you stole,” “Romania loves her children. Free the Bodnarius,” “Why are you silent Europe? Norway is kidnapping your children.” Protesters said the Lord’s Prayer before the embassy.
Daniel Bodnariu states that a tragedy took place on November 16. After they took the girls from school, Child Protection representatives went to the family’s residence and also took away the two smaller boys and subjected the parents to an interrogation at the end of which they established that they are dangerous.
“They treated them as if they were criminals. On November 17 they were waiting for the children at home, because that’s what they were told. In the evening, four police officers came to take away their three-month-old baby. It is the mother’s fundamental right not to be separated from the baby she nurses,” Daniel Bodnariu said, pointing out that the parents can now see their children twice a week, for two hours at a time, however only the mother is allowed to see the boys.
He also pointed out that the parents will be subjected to a social investigation in February but in the meantime they were informed that the international adoption procedure will start. The children have already been assigned to three foster families in two cities.
“We don’t understand why it was necessary to use these extreme measures. We want to remain by their side until this case is solved. We demand explanations for these decisions that break even their laws,” Bodnariu added.
Foreign Ministry ‘closely’ monitoring situation
The Foreign Affairs Ministry via the Romanian embassy in Oslo “knows and is closely monitoring” the situation of the family of a Romanian national whose five underage children were taken by child protection authorities in Norway, the ministry said in a release to AGERPRES on Saturday.
“To this effect, the Romanian diplomatic mission in Oslo has been in constant contact with the concerned family so as to grant consular support and assistance. Furthermore, the Embassy has made relevant moves to officials in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and Norwegian Parliament. The children’s parents hired a lawyer on their own expenses, who is specialised in settling such cases and who represents them at the judicial procedures currently under way in local courts, with the purpose of exercising the parental authority over the five children,” the release explains.
Romania, via its Foreign Ministry, informed the National Child Protection and Adoption Authority about the case and organised consultations among the institutions with a view to assessing the possibilities of support and intervention at a bilateral level, the document added.
“Given the explicit request of the family to avoid media coverage of the details of the case, the Foreign Ministry is not able to offer further information. The Romanian Embassy in Oslo is closely monitoring the developments in this case and is ready to offer the necessary consular assistance, within the limits of its legal competence and in observance of the Norwegian legal framework, which includes specific instructions and procedural norms different from the Romanian law as regards the protection of the child’s rights”, the ministry underscored.
Child Protection Authority to propose children’s transfer into the custody of their uncle in Romania
The National Child Protection and Adoption Authority (ANPDCA) will propose to Norwegian authorities to allow the transfer of the children into the custody of their paternal uncle in Romania, ANPDCA President Gabriela Coman stated for Mediafax.
ANPDCA President Gabriela Coman stated on Saturday for Mediafax that the institution has been making overtures in this case ever since last week.
Coman pointed out that the five children of Romanian national Marius Bodnariu and his spouse, Norwegian national Ruth Bodnariu, have Norwegian birth certificates and are monitored by social services there, which claim that the children were abused.
The children have Romanian citizenship too, but Romania cannot ask for their repatriation because they live with their parents in Norway.
However, Romanian authorities can propose their transfer into the custody of Marius Bodnariu’s brother, Daniel, considering that he used to take care of them before and wants to continue doing it. Moreover, international child protection legislation stipulates that if a child cannot be taken care of within his natural family the first solution sought should be transferring him into the custody of his extended family.
At the same time, Romanian authorities can offer Norwegian authorities guarantees that if the transfer takes place the children will be monitored and authorities will make sure they receive good care.