Norway is set to return a Christian couple's five children whom it seized after their case triggered international outcry and rallies.
In November 2015, the Norwegian child protection services (Barnevernet) seized Romanian Marius Bodnariu and Ruth Bodnariu's five children because of the parents' Christian beliefs. Barnevernet took their two eldest daughters from school without the couple's knowledge and also took their three sons from their home on the same day, The Washington Times details.
The trouble all started when the principal at one of the children's school called child services to inform them about her concerns regarding the parents' "very Christian" beliefs. The principal also said she feared that the couple was in need of help and guidance in raising the children.
Barnevernet officials reportedly prevented the Christian couple from seeing their kids for two months, and only informed them that the kids are doing well in two separate foster homes.
The case sparked protests in Romania, which spread to the international community including Australia and the United States. Thousands of people rallied in front of Norwegian embassies demanding the return of the five children to their parents. The said protests were coordinated via social media, Romania Insider reports.
A group of Romanian MPs also went to Norway to discuss the case of the Bodnarius with the authorities. After almost seven months, the Naustdal Municipality in Norway has finally agreed to return the five children to the Bodnarius.
In a statement, the Bodnariu family expressed their gratitude to all the people who banded together and helped them be reunited once again. They also asked for respect and privacy as the children try to reintegrate with their natural family and environment.
"We thank you all for your love, support, prayers, and active participation in the reunification of this family. May God richly bless you and repay you for all you have done to bring this family back together," the Bodnariu family said in the statement.
In Norway, strict laws prohibit parents from disciplining their children through physical means. The Bodnariu case has raised international concern over the country's child protection practices.