“Personally I feel strongly for the [Bodnariu] family and I believe they are being treated very unjustly. It is a strange thing that this is what the rest of the world seems to believe also, just not in Norway and especially locally. I think most Norwegians are over-confident that Barnevernet does everything in the best interest of children. Everybody – government ministers, diplomats, county governors – rise to tell in complimentary words about the theoretically fantastic child protection set-up we have, without entering into the real world. I hope from my heart that this is what causes their behaviour.
By good fortune the larger newspapers have lately covered several child protection cases around the country, giving us shattering stories. On social media there are also links, to loads of terrible accounts by people in Norway who have experienced Barnevernet on its worst behaviour. Naustdal is hardly alone. It seems to me that proper investigation and renovation are needed, of laws, rules and procedures. It is not enough that an arrangement looks fine on paper. One must see to it that it functions in each individual case. I think there may be great variations between different county committees and not least between those working there.
Everybody can go to social media and see authentic recordings from actions with a family, the police and Barnevernet in action. I guarantee it is not a pleasant experience.
Regarding Naustdal, I understand it to have happened without warning. But from what I have heard, taking children away from their parents is supposed to be a last resort after everything else has been tried? Here, obviously, they have started at the wrong end. And where is it to end?
In addition, the parents have been charged and risk a criminal court case, a paragraph running to 6 years of prison being used. Does it take a month-long court case to get the children home? All this is to happen to a young woman who grew up on a farm in a community in Naustdal municipality, a woman who went to Romania to help street children there, met her husband there, came home and had five children. Together with her husband she has lived for 10 years in their own house on the farm of her parents, where they all lived happily in a large family.
Can such a thing happen only in Naustdal? Are people right abroad? Are these conditions such as we want to live with in Norway?”
This article was written by a resident of Naustdal (same county as the Bodnariu family) and published in the newspaper Firda. Translated by Marianne Skanland.
A number of people in the Norwegian Government are a little concerned that Norway’s CPS, barnevernet is losing trust with its population. They are worried because they recognize that dealing with parents and children requires trust in the first place.
In fact, many families live in fear with just the mention of the name barnevernet, especially those with young children or those who are still fighting to get their children back.
This is not an exclusive list, but it might be a good start with helping in the many up and coming debates regarding barnevernet that are planned in Norway. If Norway’s CPS wants trust, it needs to deal with these issues and change its ways radically first.
Barnevernet Says = (BS)
The Reality = (TR)
1. (BS) If you divorce your husband, you will get your children back.
1. (TR) Once the divorce is through, the unity between the husband and wife is destroyed and the family has been weakened.
Barnevernet has you exactly where it wants you – powerless. The children, in the majority of cases are never given back to the single parent. Remember, a single parent is one of those who are in the target group that Barnevernet hunts down in the first place.
Anne-Kathrine Eckbo-Fangan, a former social worker said:
“Norway’s ‘Child Protective Services’ are only concerned with removing children as quickly as possible but not bringing them back again quickly. They stay with foster parents until they are 18 years old – no discussion. We had lists of mothers who we specifically targeted, single mothers, ones with children from several fathers, poor, sick unemployed parents, or families without relatives, that is uncles, aunts and grandparents.”
2. (BS) If you support the take over of your children to us voluntarily, you will get your children back.
2. (TR) Norway’s CPS often make this happen through intimidation, harassment and bullying of the parents and statistically, this looks much better for the government records and to the outside world if the parents agree. In the vast majority of cases, the parents do not get their children back. Øivind Østberg, a Barrister in Oslo said:
“No other country has a child protection agency which so frequently removes the children from parents by means of coercion. Not even close. Of the 10.1 per 1000 children placed in foster care by the CPA , in 71% of the cases this occurs without the consent of the biological parents. In Germany the corresponding figures are 9 and 10%, in Sweden 8.2 and 26 %.”
3. (BS) If you accept seeing your children only, let’s say four times a year, and accept supervision, you will have your children back soon.
3. (TR) In the majority of cases, the parents do not get their children back. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks replying to a question of Valeriu Ghilețchi (Republic of Moldova) on the issue of the Bodnariu family said:
“Taking children away from their parents is a broader issue and here the utmost caution is required because we have to think: what is the best interest of the child? The best interest of the child is almost always to be with the parents. Only in extreme and exceptional cases, where the child can come to serious harm because of the parents’ behaviour, should a child be taken away temporarily from the parents. We need to intervene to support families so that they can remain together and children can be with their families. Removing children from their parents should be done only as a last resort and for a very short period.”
4. (BS) If you never protest, get help from others or go public with your story, you might get your children back, or maybe see them more often, or not even need supervision when you visit them.
4. (TR) The parents are expected to behave nice to the carers, the foster parents, and all their oppressors, no matter what, and you guessed it, in most cases, they still don’t get their children back.
5. (BS) If you accept guidance you may get your children back.
5. (TR) This is a crazy arrangement, and only implemented with the goal of finding/inventing proof of how bad the parents are. One family had 400 hours of guidance. A woman coming every second week, from Bergen, staying in a hotel and of course she wasn’t able to teach them anything new. She wasn’t educated, just an assistant of a psychological ‘expert team’. She started off as a translator, and then in time, she became the parent supervisor, and shortly after, the children were confiscated.
6. (BS) If you want financial support to improve your education, we can help by sending someone in to help identify the family’s need.
6. (TR) When Norway’s CPS enters the home, it isn’t long before they find a basis for not supporting the parent; but instead, they find reasons why the parent is bad for neglecting their children by putting so much effort into education in the first place, or whatever it is.
7. (BS) Children do not miss their parents and have now got use to their foster parents.
7. (TR) During visitations, children often share letters with their parents which say the complete opposite. It’s also important to note, that many children are fed lies by the CPS with regards to their parents, with the aim of cutting off the attachment their have.
8. (BS) Parents refused help from us.
8. (TR) There is no help offered in many cases. Like in the Bodnariu case, for example. And what happens, when the parents do accept help? Øistein Schjønsby, a Norwegian lawyer with 30 years experience will explain:
“Barnevernet set up the monitoring of families under consideration for intervention. A family’s neighbour may be the one who reported the family (denounced them?).
The CPS gives the impression of planning to help the family – in the way they are obliged to by law – but in actual fact nothing much comes of it. Instead, the CPS takes action in the form of removing the child as an acute measure – and the outcome of the case is thereby assured.”
9. (BS) The parents don’t have a good attachment to their children.
9. (TR) In many cases, barnevernet employees have never seen the parents and children together.
10. (BS) Snatching children is the last resort and only when drug abuse and serious violence is included.
10. (TR) 100% untrue, it’s often the first resort sadly in Norway, and in many cases the children taken have never experienced any form of abuse from their parents.
Venil Katharina Thiis is a lawyer from Trondheim. She said this about Norway’s CPS, barnevernet.
“I have been working with cases involving child care for over 20 years and have seen how the legal rights of both children and parents have increasingly diminished over the years.
Barnevernet has more power than they are able to manage, so often end up abusing the authority they hold. As to this, they have developed a culture where the last solution, force, often becomes the first alternative, as opposed to forming dialogue which can lead to voluntary methods.
They also have many “locked doors” where disqualified psychologists control, both the County Board and the courts. What happens in the county boards is therefore undemocratic – it’s David’s encounter with Goliath.”
11. (BS) There is freedom of speech in Norway and parents can publish their stories in the media.
11. (TR) It’s often the case that children are fast tracked to adoption, when parents publish anything online, or the parents are threatened with never seeing their children again. It’s a bit like a revenge policy. Erik Bryn Tvedt, a lawyer from Sandefjord in Norway said this about Child Welfare in Norway:
“So, in Norway, we exclude from public debate specific issues about when it is appropriate to take children into care, separating them from their parents! Norwegian practice is contrary to Article 10 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19, 1 and 2:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or printed form, or artistic or other media of his choice. ”
12. (BS) You stigmatise the child when you publish anything about your case online.
12. (TR) The innocent child was stigmatised the day it was taken from a normal home with healthy parents. In fact, it’s OK for the CPS to run advertising campaigns, showing foster care children jumping up for joy with their new foster parents, but you can’t publish stories with your own children. This is called double standards, and Norway seems to be full of them.
13. (BS) The biological principle is always respected.
13. (TR) Only in 25% of cases are children returned to relatives. Øistein Schjønsby, a Norwegian lawyer with 30 years experience says:
“Oh no, the CPS takes the child and places it with temporary foster parents, after which they go looking for foster parents who are complete strangers to the child. Time passes, and by now there are too few who are willing to be foster parents and permanent placement therefore is long in coming.
In the meantime, the child could have been given a permanent home with its family, typically with grandparents, aunts or uncles, but the CPS is not interested in that. We are left to figure out for ourselves what it is that stops them.
Just for the record: The consideration under §4 is something one is entitled to demand. But the CPS gets around it in several ways. The CPS is not interested in the family having anything more to do with the child.
So I say, is it really any wonder that people are afraid of barnevernet, the child protection service in Norway?”
14. (BS) Children are very happy in foster homes.
14. (TR) Around 95 children in care commit suicide every year, two per week, sadly. That’s a big number for a small country of five million people.
15. (BS) The parent cares more about himself than his child, because he is still fighting to win his child back and does not let it attach to the new foster carers. They don’t respect our decision.
15. (TR) No, you took an innocent baby or child from a normal/healthy family (ca.80% of children confiscated in Norway have not been physically abused, no drugs were involved and no sexual abuse either). So, if the mother/father doesn’t fight for their children, I would really question their love for them.
16. (BS) Spend some time at the social care home for mothers with children. We can teach you how to treat your baby.
16. (TR) Unfortunately, during the stay, they just look for ‘new errors’ and a big percentage of mothers do not leave the care centre with their baby – they leave alone. In fact, the targeted mothers are given an ultimatum just after birth – you come with us now, or we take your baby.
If a mother and her child goes into a ‘home for mothers’, and she divorces her husband at the same time, it is not uncommon for that same mother to leave the home with her baby, only to be faced with a second and final snatch in the coming days. It is incredibly tormented.
Dag Sverre Aamodt, a Norwegian lawyer and former policeman said:
“The Child Welfare Act* invades the individual’s private sphere to a large degree and must in reality be considered as the greatest threat to the Norwegian population today[…]The case handling is generally characterised partly by unsubstantiated opinions and partly by blatant lies. I have often observed reports from the Child Care Services that contain allegations without any link to reality.”
17. (BS) Religion is not a reason for taking children into care.
17. (TR) Biblical Christians are a big threat to Norway’s ideological goals, so it’s no wonder they target Biblical Christians. The ‘liberal and cultural christians’ are left alone in the main, as there do not cause any threat to the system and even indirectly support HR violations in many cases.
Norway is also among the European countries with the highest number of overdose deaths according to the EU’s report on drug use in 2014. Estonia is the only country with more overdose deaths than Norway. Oslo is also known as the one-night stand capital of the world. So, it’s no wonder that Biblical Christians are targeted as they highlight this obvious chasm between teaching their children some morals and restrained behaviour compared to the new ‘moral progressive culture’ with behaviour that is unrestrained.
Muslims are also targeted. One family had their children taken because the father was classed as a radical Muslim, although there was absolutely no evidence to prove it.
In fact, Barnevernet told him he was not European enough, although he had spent 20 years in Europe. He and his wife also took a course in European studies and they both received a Diploma, but that still wasn’t enough for Norway’s CPS. There took their baby boy of nine months old and a little girl of two years old in 2013. They get to see them for two hours every three months.
18. (BS) The mother has a pathological attachment disorder.
18. (TR) The diagnosis of pathological attachment disorder has been given by individuals who are not psychiatrists. In the vast majority of the cases the diagnosis is completely false. If, in the best case scenario, those assessing the situation are actually psychologists, it has been revealed that they did not apply standardised testing nor repeated evaluation in giving a diagnosis according to all the criteria found in DSM (The Diagnosis and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorder).
This has been the case in all the cases presented so far. They would not have had the time to follow this protocol because everything was done so quickly. It has been justified that ‘this is how things are’, without any proof, and then the children are removed as an ‘emergency measure’. The way evidence is fabricated in Norway is an insult to civilised psychology, medicine, and most notably psychiatry.
19. (BS) The ‘superior interest of the child’ takes precedent over everything else.
19. (TR) The obvious intention here is to break all stable attachments formed within the biological family and recreate an attachment to a foster family. This is Barnevernet’s ‘superior interest of the child’.
Let’s take the Bodnariu children as an example. Why were the five children separated? Because, you can ‘populate’ three new families with them. Why were the older children grouped by two’s with the sibling of the closest age? Why were the parents given different visitation schedules for each set of children? Because, their attachment to the biological family is in different stages of development, based on their ages.
Eliana and Naomi already have a stable attachment, having developed from ages five and six, so they had to be completely separated from their parents, without visitation rights, presents or phone calls to begin with.
Lene Skogstrøm, a journalist in Norway said:
“A growing number of experts who come into contact with the Norwegian child welfare services, barnevernet are beginning to understand that, in many situations, the system is far from safeguarding a child’s best interests.
We see frequent examples of where the agency emerges as a dysfunctional organisation that carries out extensive miscalculations which have serious consequences.”
20. (BS) If your child needs extra help because of health challenges, such as ADHD, for example, we are here to help.
20. (TR) Sadly, not true. Gro Hillestad Thune is an attorney and expert on human rights. She said:
”We see several examples which demonstrate how Norway’s CPS, barnevernet has developed an authoritarian and closed system that exposes vulnerable children and families to abuse by the authorities.
We also hear of parents whose children have additional health challenges, such as Asperger, Tourette’s and ADHD, are too often are not met with support or respect for their difficult parental tasks, but instead have their children taken away and are deprived of their parental rights.”
21. (BS) If your child is being sexually abused in a foster home, we will move them straight away.
21. (TR) Sadly, as long as the investigation is ongoing, the children will stay exactly where they are.
22. (BS) We follow Human Right’s obligations.
22. (TR) Far from the truth. Tomáš Zdechovský is an elected member of the European Parliament and through his studies, has earned three Master’s degrees. He said:
“As a member of the European Parliament, I am deeply worried about how Norway, in many areas under the Rule of Law and particularly in CPS cases, violates its Human Rights obligations.
I am not surprised to see hundreds of thousands of people throughout Europe and in the rest of the world, marching the streets and protesting against Norway’s Human Right’s abuses.
With other colleagues in the European Parliament, from many different countries, I have decided that these abuses must come to a final end.”
23. (BS) We listen to parent’s concern.
23. (TR) Thea Totland is a lawyer in Norway and she sees this a little differently. She remarked:
“I have worked a lot with cases involving the care of children in Norway and I have found that the staff at barnevernet lack humility and willingness to have a dialogue. It is important that people take into account the fact that children, who moved from their biological parents into care, are not always placed in a foster home or an institution which can nurture their individual needs. With this mind, many would have been better off if they would have stayed with their own parents whilst receiving support and regular follow ups.”
24. (BS) Just because psychologists rely on their income coming from us, doesn’t mean that they write reports that we tell them to write.
24. (TR) In most cases, not true. Einar C. Salvesen is a psychologist in Norway. He said:
“Many Psychologists have too close ties with barnevernet, and their principal concern is to deliver their assessment to favour the interest of barnevernet. This risks the legal protection of the vulnerable families affected. Child Welfare appointed experts act disproportionately when cases come to court. As a result we often see that the biological parents have no chances to win against such a powerful ‘machine’.”
25. (BS) Parents can still see their children throughout the year.
25. (TR) True. In some cases, six times a year for two hours at a time. Other cases, four times a year, two hours at a time.
Eivind Meland, a general practitioner and professor of medicine at the University of Bergen said:
“…the right of access which, biological parents are completely denied by barnevernet, becomes primarily an attack against the children who need contact with their biological parents. Each case should be treated by its own merits and discretion. The current legal way is threatening the rule of law. The lawyers and judges have abandoned their posts and made the experts in the fields the new legal judges. It is an embarrassment and a shame.”
26. (BS) The parents are responsible for their children.
26. (TR) In the past they were. But now, things have changed. Jørgen Stueland, a Norwegian lawyer who has worked with child protection cases over several years said:
“The welfare state now owns our children. We only borrow them. And once an overzealous nurse, a doctor, a hateful neighbour, sends in a message of concern, barnevernet dissects a family’s life, and follows this up with taking the children.”
27. (BS) Social status does not come into the equation when we remove children from their parents.
27. (TR) Arne Seland, a lawyer who has worked in the judicial system for the last 20 years, including his special field of criminal law, child protection and child custody cases said:
“There is one guarantee not to have your children taken away in Norway: social status. I have seen incredibly many children be deprived of their parents. But I have never seen a doctor, never a lawyer, never a police officer, never a journalist have their child taken away. That’s the way it is.
This is about quite fundamental human rights. Human rights are there for the weakest. In Norway we have, with the best of intentions, taken from our children their fundamental human rights.”
28. (BS) Barnevernet has never been in such a good shape as it is today. We have positively moved forward.
29. (TR) No, unfortunately not. Marianne Haslev Skånland, Professor Emeritus, Bergen, Norway, suggests that Barnevernet has never left the ‘dark ages.’ She wrote:
“Barnevernet continue in exactly the same dictatorial style as they have done for several decades. All that is different, is that with ever more money in their hands, Barnevernet extends its actions to even more families; they take more children than before from their parents. They all the time say, that they and their ‘system’ are altogether different now from what they were in ‘the dark ages.’ The dark ages, however, usually turn out to be around 1990, or 2000, or the years before 2010 or thereabouts.
Around the year 2000, people who saw what was going on, often said, “Compensation will be paid out for this in 50 or 30 years’ time.” More recently, we may forecast that what Barnevernet is doing now, will be eligible for compensation in 20 years, even in 10, perhaps.”
This time a six year old girl is kidnapped from her first day at school. The Norwegian lawyer Anja Støback Bjørsvik, who represents the biological mother says that the law has been broken multiple times with this abduction and it is beyond any doubt that this is not ‘in the best interest of the child’, on the contrary, this will only traumatise this innocent child.
Øivind Østberg, a Barrister in Oslo said this about Norway’s CPS:
“No other country has a child protection agency which so frequently removes the children from parents by means of coercion. Not even close. Of the 10.1 per 1000 children placed in foster care by the CPA , in 71% of the cases this occurs without the consent of the biological parents. In Germany the corresponding figures are 9 and 10%, in Sweden 8.2 and 26 %.”
Please pray & think of a little infant girl, we will call her ‘M’ – a Norwegian-Slovakian girl who was confiscated in Norway at two months old last year in March. The reason Norway’s CPS gave was because the mother was a foster care child and is deaf and there was lack of eye contact. The parents won the case against barnevernet this year (2016) in March, but Norway’s CPS has appealed and the parent’s precious child is still in foster care.
Some background information.
In March 2015, the Norwegian Child Protection Service (Barnevernet) in Lillehammer took away a fully breastfed two and a half months old baby girl from a Norwegian-Slovak couple without any obvious reasons. The reason Barnevernet gave at the time in their written statement was a concern about insufficient eye contact between the mother and her daughter; the mother is deaf since she suffered from encephalitis.
Barnevernet also used the fact that the family refused to be moved into a (Horror) Home for Mothers and they also had concerns that the family could go to Slovakia and it would be hard to find them.
The baby was forcibly taken away from the family just one day before ‘M’s’ grandmother was coming to Norway from Slovakia in order to help the family in response to the previously stated concerns of Barnevernet.
The parents are allowed to see their daughter once every two weeks; the meeting place is kept secret and the meetings can last for one hour only. Only once the mother was allowed to breastfeed her baby. The mother though, still tries to keep her breastmilk. Slovakian representatives have already started an intervention in this case.
Dora Boková, lawyer and member of the Petition Committee commented the case.
“This is another outrageous story out of all the cases we have been monitoring through our international network of contacts. As far as we know, the Norwegian authorities have at least tried to search for some serious reasons to support their decisions within the previous cases; only when they failed, they came up with some alternative reasons. However, in this case Barnevernet basically displayed that when they want to take a child away from a family, they just do it. With no obvious reason, the CPS has taken away a healthy, fully breastfed infant from happy parents who could even get support of a grandmother.”
Pavel Hasenkopf added that the family was cooperating with the authorities since the very beginning. He said:
“We have a detailed list of all regular and previously unannounced visits (even night time ones) barnevernet made to the family. Barnevernet started to harass the family with these meetings right after their baby was born, though the family cooperated based on Barnevernet’s instructions.
It was not necessary for anyone to worry about the neonatal jaundice as the little girl was under medical control with regular check-ups and blood tests. The family refused to be moved to a special centre where families are supposed to be observed, because they did not consider the handicap of the mother a reason and because moving to the centre would force the father to commute to work for some hours. However, they arranged for grandmother to come from Slovakia to help the family.
Barnevernet even used her own childhood against the mother as they raised concerns about mother’s mental health based on the fact she was raised in Norwegian foster care since she was three years old. Barnevernet articulated no other reasons.
The Slovak republic has already intervened in the case and asked the Norwegian court to admit Slovakia as an independent party of the litigation in which an appeal against the original Lilehammer court decision will be arbitrated. “I understand the intervention of the Slovak Centre for International Protection of Children and Youths as a specific way of diplomatic protection, despite the fact it is not a diplomatic protection in its strict legal meaning. I can even see this way as more practical,” Hasenkopf added.
By Steven Bennett
This is Caspian, six months old, sleeping peacefully. This photo was taken today at 1.58pm. Moments after this photo was taken, police with Norway’s CPS enter a family’s home and cruelly take Nadia’s baby away. The Norwegian police said they took the baby because nobody knew where the birth certificate was.
This is the very dark side of Norway, which Norwegian authorities do not want you to know about. It’s a total horror for many young families in Norway. Interestingly, the police commented that they had been listening in on the phone conversations – so I guess, this new anti-terror law is already in affect in Norway, but sadly it’s being used to kidnap little innocent babies from their mothers’ arms, instead of catching real terrorists.
In defense of the Norwegian police, they only carry out orders given by Norway’s CPS, barnevernet, but it must be pretty gruesome and horrible for those policemen who have honour and integrity to carry out such acts. They also commented that the family were very caring and barnevernet had shown them no court ruling permission to take Caspian.
They took little Caspian while he was sleeping peacefully in his bed. Barnevernet had no county board ruling or authority to take this little baby. No help was offered beforehand at all to Nadia. No young family is safe from Norway’s system of error and terror (Norway’s CPS) for young families – Absolutely No One!
If Norwegians don’t stand up now, then I really wonder where the moral ground has gone in this country. It would seem that there is no moral ground and ethics have just been thrown out of the window as well. Norwegian families also need help from abroad!!!
Brutal, sick and very sad.
from Steven Bennett:
Synnøve Johansen is a Norwegian mother of three children. She ended up under the spotlight of Norway’s CPS (barnevernet). This is her story:
with a contract I had to sign there and then, otherwise, they would have taken my newborn baby straight away. So, I signed it. If one could call this voluntary – in this case CPS and I have strongly different views on what the term voluntary means.
We arrived in the evening of the second day after the birth. We were placed in a dirty room with very little furniture. It was cold and I felt quite alone in the world. No one had told me what I had to deal with, so it was just a coincidence that I brought with me my own bedding and towels. Nobody had prepared me either for a stay of 13 weeks – I had to be there – no choice.
The first week you are there, you are lucky enough to be in maternity. That is to say that you are then left to yourself with fear inside the dirty apartment with your newborn child. There is no one serving warm soup or asking you if you need a rest after three nights in row of crying, but you avoid at least to follow the compulsory scheme which consists of a singing group, kitchen service where you cook for residents and personnel, washing common areas, baking and being ‘investigated’ by an expert.
The only thing you need to do or stand up for, is when someone from the staff will see that you care, breast feed and bathe your child. One gets the message that they should only observe you and your baby in the first month, so it means that you will not be given any feedback about what they think they observe. So during a whole month you dread if you will be labeled as preliminary good mum or not. Those days are very long. I cried a lot, like women who have just given birth often do, and I struggled a lot with fear and had troubles sleeping because of how fearful I felt.
Since, I had recently given birth and being a woman, on one of the first evenings we were there, I asked the night watch if she could cradle my little child who was upset while I was taking a quick shower. The harsh and cold answer I received was a question back to why I had not showered earlier in the day. Certainly, most new mothers will understand, that women who have just given birth, bleed the first few weeks. It is actually quite desirable to wash both morning and evening. I learned very quickly that one should not bother in the evening in a Mothers Home with such things.
In fact, I learned quite fast, that a Mothers Home you were not meant to be yourself. Here, you need to ‘sell a package’ that fits into a narrow Mothers Home view of what a ‘good enough mum’ is. There are not many mothers who are ‘good enough mums’. Around eight out of ten mothers lose their baby at Vilde. The statistics were given to us by the employees themselves.
Then comes ‘the working week’ – so you are finished now with your postnatal period and now it’s your duty to attend the singing group, the baking, the cooking, the washing, the conversations and the ‘investigation’ of the so-called and self-proclaimed experts on your child.
For it is they who know what your child needs and who supposedly know what’s best for your child – not you, who has carried around your baby for nine months inside of you. You have to fill in each day, how much time the child is asleep, when he wakes up, when he eats, gets a new nappy, cries, is quiet, is upset and the like. This was done three days in a row, twice during our stay.
The ‘Assessment’ consists of being examined every week about how well you know your child, and about what answer you give in every conceivable (and inconceivable) situation that could arise from the birth until the baby matures. Moreover, both you and your child have their IQ tested. It is important to have high IQ if you are to be approved as a ‘good enough mother’. It is certainly very important to have already thought out how your child will be when he will be at least 25 years old, while the child is still four weeks old – everything is noted by the ‘expert’, and filmed, so it can be used (against you) later.
Having kitchen duties means that you should learn to cook and bake like any good housewife should, for it is understood that you are not capable of this. Moreover, one should learn to put into a dishwasher and empty it, learn to wash benches, kitchen cabinets and the floor.
The washing must be done at night, after supper, and this around the most difficult time of day for a mum with an infant. So, while you’re washing – because private foundations save namely what they can in terms of money to give more profit to private investors and therefore no cleaning personnel is employed – one of the staff monitors your activity and makes a note in your journal if you wash ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
It was also noted how well enough you could safeguard your child while you washed. The room you stay in will also be inspected every Wednesday, so they can monitor whether you wash good enough in there too. They write down how often you wash your clothes, if you look well kept or not to their standard, if you have enough eye contact with your child and staff, and about how you feel inside you.
They already know this without having to ask you anything. Everything you do and say will be questioned, and they could even make an experienced mum like me very insecure and afraid. Nothing is good enough, and the criticism I received was partly because I was carrying my child too much. Also, I didn’t shield her enough against the noise, I kept her in a health blanket at all times and I washed her bottom too much when she needed it.
Lunch and dinner is eaten together with the staff. That’s when we are all a big happy family, where there are no obstacles, like for example confidentiality; the staff can do ‘counselling’ to some mums while the other mums are present. The ‘Problems’ of the mother are pointed out, and then the poor mother, as a compromise, has to put up with being corrected and criticised in front of all the other mothers.
It is mandatory at 5pm ‘observation time’, where we mums need to lie on the floor with our kids and chat, while staff sit around us and watch. This is to see if the child responds to us well enough, and if we interact well with the child. Any suggestion to the fact that the child doesn’t see enough of the mother is interpreted as the child ‘consistently rejects the mother’.
Each family admitted has its own room. We’re not allowed to be with others inside the room. This must be carried out in a living room where the wall is a glass wall, so the staff can see at any time what we do, or overhear what you talk about. For there is a lot at Vilde which one is not allowed to talk about.
What were we really doing there? The experience is one of a negative kind with the child care services – it’s about how scared one can be. Outwardly, one should be grateful for being so lucky to be allowed in there – that’s what we are told in the intake meeting. It was outrageous how much money was being spent on just you and your child. The price per day at Vilde was for me and my baby girl, about 4.500kr. Multiply that by one hundred days.
The children are taken almost the entire day. From 8am in the morning until 10pm in the evening. There is no warning, but one learns eventually that when the place is suddenly flooded with child welfare people whom one has not seen before, and then you are told to go into your room, you then know a child is being taken away from his/her mother.
Then you sit there in horror and wonder who it will be next, while your heart beats so fast and hard that it’s almost impossible to breathe. The only thing you hear is a mum who cries, screams or shouts out her despair and pain. And, so the child is taken away by the CPS and the mother has to stay and wash the room that she stayed in with her child. It is expected of her to do this – She must stay and clean up.
Nobody talks to you about what just happened afterwards. No one asks you if you are OK, or afraid, or if you need to talk to someone about what happened. It’s just like it happens in everyday life for mothers in Vilde, so it is assumed and expected of you to endure this.
Eventually you learn to ignore feelings. You become colder, more cynical and numb. You need it to survive. The only thing you need to focus on is to survive and pray to the Almighty that your child might not be too traumatized by being there. For it is not in the child’s best interest that the mum is terrified and stressed every day, every hour, every minute, around the clock for up to one hundred days.
Most mothers there are so stressed that they lose their breast milk. But the employees at Vilde do not care about that, they would rather provide you with free replacement milk and this way it’s easier to take the babies away from the mothers who do not breastfeed. Do our authorities really think that this is in ‘the best interest of the child’? Is this really a child’s best start in life, to have a terrified mum who fights for her life and struggles with fear every day, every minute for 13 weeks?
Or could they actually imagine that the best start was at home – in their own homes, along with safe and older people where there is mutual trust, lots of empathy and understanding, and where the primary focus was that the mother could manage and this child could grow up where he belongs from the beginning?
But, by all means there was something good with Vilde also. Mostly we got another dinner, a soup, leftovers from the day before or a pizza. Sometimes, Tone or Kirsti the extra guards were at work. Then you could relax a bit, experience to be talked to like an ordinary human being with human rights, intrinsic value and as a mum who supposedly had knowledge and intelligence enough to talk about everyday topics that were interesting.
And, I met many wonderful, resourceful mums and dads who for one reason or another had been disgraced by what we in Norway call CPS – and I’m very happy that I got the opportunity to meet them. We comforted, listened and encouraged each other. Some are my friends to this day, even one year after.
Three mums and a dad were deprived of their children while I and my child was admitted to Vilde. A mum and a single father got to travel home with their sons. The rest of us were glad for their child’s sake, and wept for the unhappy mums and the dads who lost their children. We cried for those children who became a part of the sad statistics under CPS ‘care’.”
Finally, and thank God this mother could take her lovely baby daughter home again. And she even won her case against Norway’s CPS at the County Board. She was in the fortunate ca.10% of mothers who leave the Mothers Home with their child. This in spite of the ‘expert’ from Vilde saying this about the mum’s daughter, “It is very important that (daughter’s name) has a good relationship to CPS, for her children will be again in childcare one day.” Her daughter was at this time seven months old.