January 15, 2014
By Brandy Burningham
You show up in a new country with a new culture, new people, new laws, and completely new circumstances. After trying to get used to things and settling in you have your children taken from you. In Norway, immigrants are targeted more than Norwegian citizens when it comes to Barnevernet, the country’s Child Protective Services (CPS).
In 2015 Marus and Ruth Bodnariu, who had immigrated from Romania, had their three children taken from them as the children returned home from school, and then two days later Barnevernet came for the baby. Their children were put in three different emergency foster care facilities, so they didn’t even keep the siblings together (Whewell, 2016). The parents were told their children were taken from them for spanking their children occasionally. Spanking and slapping are against the law in Norway, but a lot of immigrants don’t know that, so they are at higher risk of getting their children taken if the parents use any form of corporal punishment (Whewell, 2016). Norway is insensitive to the fact that different cultures may use corporal punishment with their children.
After the Bodnariu children were taken it came out that the actual reason their children were taken from them was because Norway was concerned about the Christian indoctrination that was taking place in the home (Hasan, 2019). There were protests of Christian’s all around the world after this came out, so with the outcry Barnevernet reluctantly gave their children back. You may think this is an isolated situation, but it is not.
Parents from India faced the wrath of Barnevernet, because their four year old son’s teacher said their son was struggling with making eye contact (Hasan, 2019). A family from India had their two children that were three and younger taken from them. They were taken away because the parents had their kids in their bed at night, and the mom fed her children with her hands (Malinowski, 2023). Absolutely ridiculous!
There was yet another family from India facing the wrath of Barnevernet. Their son would get mad and hit his head on the floor at school, and when officials of Barnevernet came to talk with these parents the mom was breastfeeding her 4 month old. Her baby looked away while eating, so Barnevernet took the baby as well (Malinowski, 2023).
A family from Africa had their children taken from them, because an inexperienced social worker felt their 3 year old was playing with her dolls in a sexual way (Saha, 2018). An hour later the mom gave birth, and Barnevernet took the baby. In 2017 the older kids were returned to their parents, but not the baby(Saha, 2018).
There is more. Mariya and Ibrahim, a Muslim family, had their son taken away because of abuse and neglect. Ibrahim was abusive, but Mariya wanted to keep her son (Apari, 2022). She went to the Strasbourg Court and they said she should have her son with her with dad not around. Norway didn’t allow the reunion, and her son was adopted by a Christian family. This just poured more salt in the wound(Apari, 2022).
A mother from Palestine had her 13 year old daughter taken from her, because another teen at school was saying they were being abused. Instead of intervening in that teens life, Barnevernet took away the 13 year old that was not being abused (Nezirevic, 2023). The daughter got very depressed in foster care and started cutting herself. She was then put on an antipsychotic medication, which landed her in the hospital (Nezirevic, 2023). She got so sick from the medication. After this episode the daughter hooked up with her mom, and the mom and daughter fled to Poland for protection (Nezirevic, 2023).
The last story I will share is about a mom from Lithuania that was married to a Norwegian man. She got the news that immigrant families dread. Barnevernet took their 2 children from their classes at school and placed them in foster care (Lewis, 2015). She implored Barnevernet to figure out why her children were taken from their family and she was never given a straight answer. A relative of the mom took things into their hands and spirited away the mom from Lithuania’s children. The family fled back to Lithuania (Lewis, 2015).
Immigrant children are more than three times as likely to be taken from their parents (Lewis, 2015). Of all of the immigrant children in Norway almost 3% are in foster care(Nezirevic, 2023). That is too high a percentage. Barnevernet claims they are taking these children because of cultural differences, but who is to say what is culturally appropriate (Nezirevic, 2023). That leaves too many avenues open for wrongdoing. As you can see Barnevernet has too much power where they take advantage of immigrant families. These practices need to be stopped, and Norway needs to take accountability for these outrageous actions.