13 October 2016

'The Naustdal family' must be left in peace

By Ruth L. Hafstad
Aunt and great-aunt

The Norwegian original of this article appeared in the newspaper Vårt Land's edition on paper on 8 October 2016. It is reprinted here with the kind consent of the author.
Translation: Marianne Haslev Skånland

As aunt and great-aunt to "the Naustdal family" I want at long last to make a statement. It was a shock – unbelievable and impossible to understand – that this family should be hit by Barnevernet (Norwegian child protection). I have known the family for many years and have experienced of them as very able and good parents, with consideration both for their own and for everybody else. The children were very trustful, free, happy, confident and creative. We never heard or observed anything indicative of a need for interference from Barnevernet.

Both mother and father grew up in safe, good, solid families – and we do not know of any violence. One article heading was: "Can have been subject to violence for 5 years" (Kan ha vore utsett for vald i 5 år). It sounds dreadful to us who know the family. What kind of impression does one give to readers with such headings? It would be easy to think of them as criminal child abusers, something which is far from the truth. No words exist to express how misleading this is.

Solid family
The family lived for quite some time in the house of my sister and brother-in-law, while their own house, on the same property, was being refurbished. Both the people doing the refurbishing and others have lived together with the family over considerable time, but none of them have ever heard or seen anything indicating violent child raising. On the contrary, they have been said to be "the kindest family in the world".

These parents are honest and pay proper attention to everything. That which can be called a tiny smack, is being presented in the media as violence. It seems as if somebody "wants to get at them" or tries to destroy the family. I am very glad that they have their firm basis in Jesus Christ and build their lives "on solid rock". It must be far worse for the children to be "kidnapped" from their parents and to separate siblings and place them with strangers. What kind of traumas has that made for the children?

Now that all of them are together again, the children are afraid of being "kidnapped" again, as one of them expressed it. They had fear of again losing parents, siblings, family and friends. In order to take care of the children, the parents chose to move (to Romania), which has made them feel more secure. But the traumas created for all of them by Barnevernet will probably always be with them. This is a hurtful fact.

So strangers are to assess them, people who have not lived with them in their everyday life and seen them close to over time. Is it not time to admit having made a mistake, to humble oneself and leave the family in peace?

This family has made a good home, without drinking and drugs and smoking, without swearing and rough language. There has been a suitably firm framework, lots of love, happiness and peace. I wish they could have been left in peace in this fantastically fine place where they had settled, with dependable people all around, without fear of the "wolves" who rush around. They are safe and happy with all their loved ones, but not with "the interventionists".