Back in November, the department of Child Welfare in Norway removed five children from the custody of their parents, one Romanian (Bodnariu) and his wife (Norwegian). This issue continues to snowball:
Thousands of people took to the streets over the weekend in Romania’s major cities, as well as in other European and American cities, in support of the Bodnariu family.
The Romanian government has said that the country’s ambassador in Norway will meet the Norwegian Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion on Wednesday to discuss the situation.
In some countries, like the United States and Norway, the government has wide latitude to remove children from homes where severe abuse is suspected. In other countries, like Romania, this almost never happens. Romania, in particular, is extremely sensitive to the separation of children from their families due to widespread abuse of the adoption process back in the 1990s.
I’ve read all kinds of reports about this case, and it’s impossible to figure out exactly what kind of abuse was alleged to have occurred against the Bodnariu kids, and whether or not it justifies removing the kids from the home. The Bodnariu family and their supporters are talking, but the Norwegian government isn’t, so all the information is pretty one-sided at this point.
The larger issue, of course, is whether the government has a legal standing to be a “parent of last resort”, protecting kids and occasionally removing them from their parents. In America, there are hundreds of cases of state agencies acting inappropriately, but, on the other hand, what do you do when parents ARE severely abusing their kids?
It’s a delicate question, with no easy answer, that’s for sure.