I am a Romanian who lives in Norway…

It is difficult for me to find words to describe the internal turmoil my wife and I have been through since November 2015. Yes, I am a Romanian who lives in Norway; moreover I am a Christian Romanian, married, with a wonderful wife and a five-year-old son, a much-waited gift from God after 10 years of prayers and waiting. If you can imagine two continental plates colliding, then try to picture how it feels to be right in the middle, crushed by both.

First, I would like to ask your kindness in reading this article, as I am not a professional journalist, but just a regular guy. It is not my intention to make general statements or pass on wrongful judgments, but I would like to present the situation through the eyes of a Romanian who lives here, in Norway. If someone feels entitled to pass on judgments, please feel free to do so.

The fear of Barnevernet! Honestly, it’s real. But, I can honestly say I don’t have it. My wife, on the other hand has had it since November, when we read about the case of the five kids taken away from their christian family by Barnevernet . We don’t personally know them, but ever since we heard about their story we are praying for them and we hope and believe that they will get their children back as soon as possible.

Needless to say that for one week after we heard of this case we didn’t close one eye. Our initial thought was to sell everything we own here and move back to Romania. The pain we feel for them is indescribable, and the agony these parents must go through is incomprehensible. We pray that God does not permit us to go through anything like this, as we are not worthy of such tribulation.

As I was mentioning earlier, the past couple of months felt for me like two tectonic plates colliding, two icebergs if you want. This is what I see and feel every time I read articles from both sides of this case. The culture I was raised in, with all its good and bad is drastically different than the culture I currently live in, with all its good and bad. The reason for the recent outcry, stems, in my opinion, from this cultural difference regarding child rearing. A sensible article I found about the case was in the Romanian journal Academia Catavencu.

However, notably throughout this article was the idea that Romanians, comprehend physical discipline as normal in child rearing. Norwegians, on the other hand believe the exact opposite: child rearing cannot and should not include physical discipline. It is not my intention to open a conversation on this particular topic, and I would ask you to please not go there. This is not the goal here. The purpose is to acknowledge this cultural difference that exists independent our individual or group opinions on the topic. In the Romanian culture, physical discipline of children is tolerated; in the Norwegian culture it is not.

I was looking at the faces of many dear friends and relatives I grew up with, spread out in various cities of the world, that went out in the street to protest for this case, and all I can say is that I applaud and appreciate all of you.

Just like you, I also believe that family is of most importance in the life of a child and the separation trauma from one’s parents and siblings is immeasurably greater than the trauma of light physical discipline. Unfortunately, in Norway, as well as in the most of the western world, the family ceased to be valued as a fundamental unit in society. The individual is the ”basic cell or unit” of society and individual interests became preeminent.

About Norway. Three years and a half ago when I moved here I could not have imagined a more welcoming and tolerant people than this … particularly towards eastern Europeans. I was very much aware of the way eastern Europeans are perceived in western Europe, as well as I was aware of the bad reputation some of our conationals were brining to the Romanian name with their impious deeds, presented every day on the news.

Despite my pessimistic expectations, I don’t have the slightest reproach for the Norwegian community we’ve become a part of. I have over 20 ethnic Norwegians co-workers with whom I interact every day at my job, which by the way are fantastic people. My wife is also grateful of the hospitality and enthusiasm the Norwegian community showed toward us. I am not only referring to my work contacts here, but I would also like to mention the other social circles that I am very active in, such as my local faith community.

For all the above mentioned reasons, I feel obligated to point out a thing that may cause some negative sentiments among some Romanians now, but I will take my chances: Norway is not Barnevernet, and those that fail to make this distinction may be accused of the same ignorance displayed by some of the western countries when they portray all Romanians as thieves and criminals.

In general I know Barnevernet works. The idea of a good and effective child protection system should only make us feel safe, right? In that case why is Barnevernet inducing so much fear and terror, particularly among foreigners that live here. I would like to take a moment now and make the first reprimanding note on Norway: I lived here for three and a half years and I’ve never been informed or received any guidance about the rules and laws that apply to the social life here, particularly regarding child rearing. I haven’t heard about these regulations from any foreigners either, nor had I heard this happen to anyone I know.

It is true, there are those that go out of their way to read and get information, but this is not the standard for a country such as Norway. The prophylactic character of the Norwegian culture, the strategizing and planning traits specific to this country, are completely lacking when it comes to informing foreigners about the current regulation on child rearing. The fear experienced by immigrants can be explained, in this case, by a lack of information and guidance, which is becoming a stain on Norway’s good name.

Unfortunately there are cases in which Barnevernet has not intervened or stepped in too late and this resulted in a tragic outcome for the children. Just the other day, a young lady, 13 years of age died of anorexia; in this case Barnevernet should have probably stepped in with counseling and help sooner.

In the case of the Christian family I can see how people became so focused on the letter of the law that they’ve completely disregarded the spirit of it, or any common sense and humanity. I do believe there are many gray areas when it comes to the law of the land and these situations leave room for interpretation. Just to be very clear, from my point of view, as well as from the perspective of many other Norwegian friends, the resources need to be utilized for counseling and helping, and not for a traumatic separation in family.

The declaration of the Norwegian minister for social protection regarding this case can explain the overly zealous efforts demonstrated by the Barnevernet workers: ”Barnevernet should and can be subjected to criticism, and in Barnevernent the ways of operating can differ from one county to another”.

How do I see the Norwegian people and culture? I think they are wonderful people, with a rich culture marked by respect for others and common sense. What, in my opinion, the modern Norwegian people seems to forget is that their culture, that I treasure so much and of which they are so proud, was built in large on the work of the preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge. He lived 200 years ago and started a real spiritual and national awakening. It is important to remember that Norway’s well-respected constitution has no less than two hundred and almost two years and it is mostly based on biblical principles.

How do I see the Romanian people? In the same way, I believe Romanians are wonderful, caring people very passionate about everything they do.

I am in the middle of the two cultures, and on one hand I can understand why some employees of the system ended up taking such drastic decisions like in this case, though I disagree with their actions. On the other hand, however, I have a difficult time understanding a system that ended up being ruled by regulations so strict, that although issued by people they disregard humanity.

I will continue to live without the fear that one day instead of picking up my son from kindergarten or school I’ll pick up an envelope from Barnevernet. Why? Because I know Norway is much more than Barnevarnet, and God is greater than a system.

Claudiu Mihaiu, a Romanian living in NORWAY

Source: facebook

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9 Responses to I am a Romanian who lives in Norway…

  1. “Norway is not Barnevernet”. What do you exactly mean by that? If you are referring to your coworkers or to ordinary people from Norway you are right. However, if you are saying that Barnevernet is not empowered and sustained by the state of Norway you are completely wrong. We are not protesting against the ordinary people from Norway (as your neighbors or coworkers). We are condemning a regime, a state business that put money in a system that definitely destroy families. If anyone would have visited Romania during the Ceausescu regime, he/she could have said: “Nothing that’s said about Romania was true for I found people in Romania to be just wonderful”. And here we have to make a difference. People from Romania did not agree with the communist regime but they had no choice. Nonetheless, those wonderful Norwegians live in a “democratic” country and they have the choice to oppose the system. I’m sure that Norwegians were wonderful people to Marius and Ruth until the tragedy happened. And I don’t deny that they are good people. What I certainly can say is this: If your 5 years old son (received from God after 10 years of prayer) would be abusively confiscated by Barnevernet your “wonderful” coworkers would not protest and they would silently agree with that…

  2. “I would like to take a moment now and make the first reprimanding note on Norway: I lived here for three and a half years and I’ve never been informed or received any guidance about the rules and laws that apply to the social life here, particularly regarding child rearing. I haven’t heard about these regulations from any foreigners either, nor had I heard this happen to anyone I know.
    __________________
    The above statement says it all–the writer has no clue! He even contradicts himself! To be sure, in three years of living in any country, there’s hardly adequate time and information to absorb the country’s system, let alone to have a good understanding of it! The writer seems to “beat around the bushes” because he has no clue! He misrepresents himself as he gropes in confusion about his world around him. Again, it must be repeated: he has no clue!

    Citeste tot: http://www.jurnaldenord.info/english/opinions/i-am-a-romanian-who-lives-in-norway/

  3. G m istratoaie spune:

    My friend, i wish you good luck, if you are sincere, you might be lucky enough to enjoy your life in Norway,but…i’m affraid to say barnevernet is Norway because the government pays them and that is the scarry part,i suggest ask yourself how Bodnariu’s could’ve avoid their calvary?how could’ve the others?if you cannot find an answer …maybe you should leave God bless you!

  4. A reputed professor from Oslo made this statement about Norway:

    *** “The State is not only turning a blind eye on Barnevernet’s actions. It is the State that is doing it. The CPS is a State agency, administrated on various levels of government, county and municipality administration.” ***

  5. Elena spune:

    Buna Claudiu! Un articol frumos si sensibil. Felicitari si multumim ca ai ales sa impartasesti ceea ce simti, cu noi restul…

  6. Fanel Dragomir spune:

    Un articol “frumos” dar nedocumentat. Bine ai spus ca autorul a impartasit ce “simte” pt ca dupa 3 ani de locuit intr-o tara nu ai cum sa stii prea multe despre toate culisele tarii respective. Autorul inca nu intelege mentalitatea norvegienilor. El nu cred ca pricepe ca daca I se intampla o tragedie, daca Barnevernet i-ar lua copilul iar sotia lui ar plange disperata, colegii aia “very nice” de la job i-ar recomanda un psihiatru si ar fi reci ca niste ghetari la necazul lor. Oamenii aceia de treaba intretin acel system ticalosit pt ca nu le pasa de altii atata timp cat nu li se intampla lor. Ei se comporta frumos pt ca asa au fost invatati. Asa sunt occidentalii. Sunt politiciosi, ceea ce gasesti acum si la multi romani. Norvegienii insa nu obiecteaza pt aceste atrocitati care au loc in tara lor. Ei “cred” orbeste in system pt ca nu ii intereseaza pur si simplu de victime. Altfel s-ar pune putin sa analizeze, sa gandeasca: mai oare ce face guvernul asta cu copiii dupa ce ii ia de la parinti? Ii duce in Rai sau ii expune la alte abuzuri si mai mari? Cea mai mare ineptie pe care am auzit-o este ca Barnevernet nu are nimic de-a face cu Norvegia. E ca si cum ai spune ca DNA nu are nimic de-a face cu Romania, nimeni nu ii poate pune la punct daca ar comite abuzuri. Problema in Norvegia nu e Barnevernet ci tot sistemul ala ticalosit. Toti au fost educati de aceeasi scoala, care i-a invatat ca patria e totul si institutiile statului trebuie sa functioneze, angajatii trebuiesc platiti. Despre sentimente fata de semeni au fost invatati mai putin nordicii, alea nu conteaza la ei. Daca le ai, te considera psihopat. Ciudat ca sunt oameni pe planeta care plang si daca i-ai lua catelul. Norvegienii te considera dezechilibrat mental si daca faci crize dupa proprii tai copiii. Si da-ti voie sa spun ca asa sunt si colegii lui Claudiu, fara doar si poate.
    Nu i-as dori lui Claudiu sa aiba probleme cu Barnevernetul pt ca abia atunci si-ar da seama ca, colegii de munca cred orbeste in Barnevernet si implicit nu l-ar crede pe el, l-ar considera infractor. (ca doar in astfel de situatii nu ai cum sa dai dreptate si parintilor si Barenevernetului).

  7. Dear Claudiu,

    Reading your account was very interesting and quite useful to me. I disagree with many things you say, but I appreciate the way you let us into your reasoning. Only one thing do I feel I have to say something about. You write:

    “Unfortunately there are cases in which Barnevernet has not intervened or stepped in too late and this resulted in a tragic outcome for the children. Just the other day, a young lady, 13 years of age died of anorexia; in this case Barnevernet should have probably stepped in with counseling and help sooner.”

    The girl had developed anorexia because she was harassed at school. (Barnevernet like to claim that it is the parents’ fault, of course.) The mother had been this young girl’s constant support and helper all the time, and had tried to get competent help for her. Barnevernet had been asked to help! but they did not. Of course not – they have no kind of competence to help in medical cases and not in many other types of case either. Their “couseling” is no help, it is at best psychobabble and simple things which everybody knows, but quite often their “help” is harassment, wearing the family down.

    Anorexia sufferers can being in danger of dying suddenly, because they get so little nourishment that their inner organs can be damaged, such as the heart.

    It is symptomatic of how the psychological propaganda against parents has become so prevalent in Norway that not only Barnevernet (who blame parents for absolutely everything) but the police and everybody else immediately try to blame the mother of the 13 year old.

    About the case – I am sure you can read Norwegian: http://forum.r-b-v.net/viewtopic.php?f=136&t=8121

  8. Gillian spune:

    Barnevern i Norge og Naustdal

    Av Per Storegjerde, Naustdal

    •••
    Artikkelen har tidligere stått som innlegg i avisen Firda.
    Det er trykket her med forfatterens velvillige tillatelse.

    Min bakgrunn er ikkje anna enn det som har komme fram i media og på nettet den siste tida. På bakgrunn av dette synest det sikkert at det barna har blitt utsett for frå foreldra, ikkje er anna enn det som var vanleg barneoppseding her i landet til for få år sidan, og i utlandet enno. Mange av dei som lever i Norge i dag har vore utsett for tilsvarande. Uttalen frå politiet stadfestar det. Er det noko meir styggedom borna har vore utsett for, bør det komme fram straks. Dette fordi folk rundt om ikkje skal gjere seg opp alle slags tankar, som eg høyrer nemnt. Slik ekstra belastning må familien bli skåna for.

    Personleg føler eg sterkt med heile familien og trur dei er fullstendig urettvis handsama. Det merkelege er at det ser resten av verda ut til å meine også, men ikkje i Norge, og kanskje mest lokalt. Eg trur nordmenn flest, har ei overdriva tru på at barnevernet gjer alt til barnet sitt beste. Alle, frå statsrådar, diplomatar og fylkesmenn, står opp og fortel i rosande ordelag om det teoretisk fantastiske barnevernsopplegget vi har utan å gå inn i den røynlege verda. Eg vonar så sterkt eg kan at dette gjeld i alle tilfelle. Men trur det ikkje. I denne saka trur og følar eg at det ikkje gjer det.

    Heldigvis har dei større landsavisene siste tida teke føre seg fleire barnevernssaker rundt om i landet med skakande omtalar. På sosiale medium er det også lenker med haugevis av skrekkelege forteljingar av personar i Norge som har opplevd barnevernet på sitt verste. Naustdal er nok ikkje åleine. På meg verkar det som det må ein skikkeleg gjennomgang til, både av lover, reglar og prosedyrar. Det held ikkje at det ser fint ut på papiret. Det må også sjåast til at det fungerer i kvart enkelt tilfelle. Eg trur det er store variasjonar både mellom nemndene og ikkje minst dei personar som arbeider der. Alt hemmeleghaldet i Norge ser ut til å vere meir til for nemndene sin del, enn dei råka familiane.

    I tilfelle Naustdal kan alle gå inn i sosiale medium og sjå autentiske opptak frå plassen med familien, politiet og barnevernet i aksjon. Eg garanterer det ikkje er ei hyggeleg oppleving. Eg skjønar det slik dette kom som lyn frå klar himmel. Etter som eg har forstått skal det å ta borna bort frå familien vere siste utveg etter alt anna er prøvd. Her startar dei tydelegvis i feil ende. Og kvar skal dette ende? Skal alle desse barna vekse opp til dei vert vaksen i ein fosterheim fordi foreldra visstnok har teke «riset» ned frå veggen og ein av ungane fortalde det? Er det andre bakanforliggande årsaker? Mange tankar melder seg. I små bygder kan det vere mange merkelege grunnar i røynda. Sekterisme, utlendingar har vore nemnd og kan vere medverkande årsaker lokalt.

    I tillegg er foreldra tiltalt og risikerer straffesak med ei strafferamme på 6 års fengsel. Må det ei månadslang rettssak til for å få ungane heim? Alt dette kan skje ei ung kvinne oppvaksen på ein gard i ei bygd i Naustdal som drog til Romania for å hjelpe gatebarn der, fann seg mann der, kom heim og fekk fem born etter kvart. Saman med mannen har ho budd i 10 år i eige hus på tunet til foreldra sine, der alle har levd lykkeleg i ei storfamilie. Jamfør besteforeldra sitt fortvila innlegg i Firda 10. februar. 2016. Eg må berre spørje, kva har Norge blitt til? Kan slikt berre skje i Naustdal? Har utlandet rett? Er det slike tilstandar vi ønsker å ha i Norge?

    http://www.mhskanland.net

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