The five children of the Marius and Ruth Bodnariu are to be reunited with them following a decision by Norway’s Barnevernet or child welfare service.
The children, aged nine to only three months, were removed from their parents last November after concerns were raised at the older children’s school in Naustdal, though the baby was later returned to them. The Bodnarius later admitted that they had occasionally spanked their children, which is illegal in Norway.
The case – one of many in which the children of immigrant or mixed-ethnicity families had been removed from their parents – contributed to a world-wide outcry against the Barnevernet, with protests held outside many Norwegian embassies. The concern was fuelled by the suspicion that the religion of the Bodnariu parents, who are Pentecostal Christians, might have played a part in the removal.
Last month a letter signed by more than 100 lawyers and politicians, including members of the European Parliament, was delivered to the Norwegian prime minister. It said: “We find the facts of this international incident unacceptable not only on legal grounds but also on humanitarian and moral grounds. We view these transgressions as grievous breaches of domestic and international law.”
An official statement by the family’s spokesman Pastor Christian Ionescu said: “The Naustdal Municipality of Norway has come to terms with Marius and Ruth Bodnariu for the return home of all of their five children.”
The statement thanked the many supporters of the Bodnarius, and said: “It is very important for all of us to respect the privacy and uninterrupted intimacy of this family in the following period as the children resettle and reintegrate themselves in their natural family home and environment.”
Barnevernet has not commented on the case, citing privacy issues.