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Barnevernet strikes again – this time an innocent American family

Lithuanian parents protest against Barnevernet in Oslo

In a posting last fall I promised to return with a commentary on the most recent chapter in the Bodnariu Family’s never ending conflict with Norway and Barnevernet over parental rights, as well as Barnevernet’s revenge. Unfortunately, the Bodnariu v. Barnevernet saga continues. Neither Barnevernet nor Norway will let up. The clash, which started out in midNovember 2015 when Barnevernet seized Bodnariu’s five (5) children, has since morphed into the Barnevernet and Norwegian Police v. Bodnariu saga. On this subject I hope to write later on when time allows. Today, however, I want to focus on an equally worthy cause, one that, just like the Bodnariu matter, sends shivers down one’s spine when learning the facts.

Right after the start of the new year I was contacted by a very nice and loving, extended American family whose members live in the United States and Norway. The extended family’s newest member, a baby boy, called a “gift from God” in the family’s communications with me, was kidnapped by Barnevernet in midDecember. Born on November 15, the baby was 4 weeks old at the time of his unlawful seizure. His name, whose identity I am disclosing with the family permission, and is likely to become known around the world, just like the names of the Bodnariu children, is Ishaan, the son of an American Jewish young woman, Melissa Bolstad, and a Nepalese young man, Satish Ligal, who lived in Norway on a student visa studying the Christian religion.

I was eager to know the reason -why was the baby taken away? Because the young mother is bi-polar and suffers from post-partum depression, the latter a very common manifestation in mothers after they deliver their babies. This is unbelievably surreal and baffling and defies all reason. How can anything like this happen? It makes the heart race and the mind stop and ask, „am I reading this right?” It is so scandalous and offensive to common sense and basic human decency that it leaves one speechless. The family has given repeated assurances to Barnevernet that there is an extensive family network which is eager, ready, willing, and able to easily take care of the child. Even so, Barnevernet has not blinked.

The horrific details of Ishaan’s kidnapping are discussed in an email I received on January 3, 2017 from Linda Cohen, Ishaan’s great-grandmother. They resemble the horrific details in the seizure of the Bodnariu children. Linda is a fighter committed to doing everything within her ability to bring Ishaan home.

Melissa Bolstad’s Story as Written by her Great Grandmother Linda Cohen

Dear Mr. Costea: My great grandson Ishaan Ligal was born in Norway on Nov. 15th to my granddaughter Melisa Bolstad. The father of the baby is her fiancé from Nepal, now in Lisbon working in a restaurant. They met in Norway where they courted but then he was deported for working on a student visa. He worked to help his parents in Nepal. Melissa and the father of her child are in love and plan to be married. She has been with him in Lisbon where the baby was conceived. Her family convinced her to return to Norway thinking the health care and delivery would be safer in Norway.

Melissa is bipolar and functions well with medication but was told to discontinue it during the pregnancy for fear it would harm the baby. After the birth she suffered postpartum depression. She had not gotten back on the medicine at that time. The midwives immediately contacted the Barnevernet (Family Welfare Service) who sent case workers to observe Melissa. They followed up by sending workers to her home where she lives with her parents Susan and Rolf Bolstad. My daughter Susan Bolstad and her husband suggested they be made foster parents but this suggestion was refused by the case workers.

Everything said in the home for each of the four hour visits was twisted and made into a negative comment in their report. When my son-in-law’s brother visited the worker said it was a warm harmonious family but in the report wrote dysfunctional family. My grandson was so excited to see his new nephew, the case worker commented „too enthusiastic.” When Melissa visited in the foster home and held and diapered the baby the case worker said she injured is back. After the five week old was examined by a chiropractor, he was declared fine and normal with no injury.

We are a very close loving family. I have visited 37 times since my daughter moved to Norway 31 years ago marrying a Norwegian. My daughter is an American citizen. Melissa has dual citizenships- American and Norwegian. The social workers Tina MacBeath and Line Jacobsen had preconceived notions about the family and never gave Melissa a chance to be a mother. They came with two large policemen and took the 4 week old baby and placed him in a foster home. My granddaughter can only visit for one hour every two weeks. Even the gift package I sent with knitted sweaters must have the permission of the case worker who attends and monitors every single visit. They look for faults in the family so Melissa will not be able to bond with her son.

The case workers were blind to the positive qualities of affection all members of the Bolstad family have towards one another. Everyone who has first child has a learning curve but I know Melissa is dedicated to loving and caring for Ishaan and all his needs. The case workers showed no compassion or understanding and never offered counseling on how one must experience motherhood before becoming an expert. The workers need counseling on how to recognize love and devotion when they see it.

The Norwegian Child Welfare report which took our baby away was fraught with lies and hasty and wrong conclusions. Much of it is easy to prove. Can they get away with this without anybody checking the quality of their work? Is there no one they have to answer to for what they write and do? For basic civil rights, for the sake of families torn apart, it must be possible to somehow check their work. It would be incredible if one cannot have an independent entity check the quality of their work. This report is so full of errors and wrong doing and has had a devastating effect. In a normal court one cannot be sentenced if there is reasonable doubt. The case workers showed bias toward our American Norwegian family and came to conclusions which were a violation of domestic and international law.

My Commentary: Norway – a Pariah State

In just the last 12 months I have written extensively on Barnevernet and the atrocities it commits against families under color of law. Norway’s 1991 Child Welfare Act clothes it with immunity, and this explains to a large extent the many and egregious excesses this administrative body, which operates outside of Norway’s legal system and without any meaningful judicial supervision or review, has committed for many years and continues to commit.

Last year, Norway published statistical data for 2015 related to Barnevernet’s activities. [Here’s the Report:…/…/statistikker/barneverng/aar/2016-07-01] The statistics confirm what I have stated before: Barnevernet continues to wreak havoc in the lives of many families. According to the Report, in 2015 Barnevernet “assisted” 53,439 children and applied “care measures” to 10,069 children. As I explained in prior postings, a “care measure” is the act by which Barnevernet seizes children from their biological parents and places them in foster care. Without court order or warrant of any type. In 2014 9,611 children were taken away from their biological parents, and in 2013 9,078. Among the 9,611 children Barnevernet kidnapped in 2015 were the Bodnariu family’s five (5) children. Most of the kidnapped children are not returned to their biological parents but remain in foster care until they reach adulthood or are adopted. The minority of children who are returned, however, only see their parents after years of protracted hearings and, in some cases, litigation.

These numbers are staggering by any stretch of the imagination, and, I will add, frightening. The number of seized children grows from year to year, as you can see. The numbers are extreme and excessive considering Norway’s small population of 5,2 million. In a posting last year I compared the number of children taken away from their biological parents in Norway with the number of children taken into custody by the Texas Child Protective Services. Texas CPS takes into custody about 17,000 children annually. While this number still seems high, it is not necessarily excessive considering that Texas’ population is almost 28 million people. If the rate of seizure were the same in Texas as in Norway, the number of children taken into custody in Texas would be at least five times that of Norway, or over 50,000 children. But then, unlike Norway, in Texas children cannot be taken away from their biological parents except following court proceedings, sworn testimony and affidavits, the cross-examination of case workers and witnesses, and court warrants and orders. Also the separation of children from their parents is for a very limited period of time.

None of this happens in Norway, however. Most of the children taken by Texas CPS are returned to their parents, and the majority of the other children are placed in foster care with their relatives. Only where no relatives exist or the placement with relatives is not feasible are the children placed in foster care elsewhere. The Texas practice is fairly humane, respectful of parental rights, and devised to maintain family ties and, generally, to ensure the child’s best interests. In contrast, Norway’s practice is inhumane and designed to hurt, both innocent parents and innocent children.

Crimes against humanity

I would call Barnevernet’s practice of kidnapping children a crime against humanity. No civilized state kidnaps children from their parents. Isis does. Norway and its officials are well aware of the atrocities committed by Barnevernet, one of its state agencies. For many years parents have protested, sued, cried, and pleaded with Norway to change its child protection system, and to make it more humane and more respectful of parental rights. Norway has refused to listen. It has turned a deaf ear to the pleas of thousands of parents from around the world, and a blind eye to the peaceful, public demonstrations of possibly hundreds of thousands of well meaning citizens around the world. Cumulatively, only in the Bodnariu case, more than 100,000 people demonstrated, peacefully, for the return of the children. The Bodnariu children were fortunate to be returned to their parents, but Barnevernet continues to attack and dismantle thousands upon thousands of normal, innocent families like ours, causing them much grief and harm. In the face of this massive evidence of official malfeasance and refusal to act or reform, one must conclude that Norway is a pariah state, a rogue state, a pirate state one might be tempted to say, one which, willingly condoning the intentional violation of civil and human rights, as well as parental rights, has lost all respect in the Family of Nations.

An Intolerant Norway

But there is more. Ishaan’s young mother and her extended family are Jewish. She has had her share of being bullied because of her ethnic and religious identity, being once called “Juta, Juta,” meaning “Jew, Jew,” by a boy in the neighborhood. This is reminiscent of what happened to the Bodnariu family and children as well. They, too, were targeted and bullied because of their Christian faith, in a Norway which claims to be an example of tolerance and inclusiveness for the rest of the world to follow. Far from it. Norway does not practice what it preaches. Satish Ligal, the baby boy’s Nepalese father, has been expelled from Norway. He lived there on a student visa and when the visa expired was expelled. He now lives in Portugal and is not even able to see his own son.

Note also that many of the impressions Linda expressed in her email to me are impressions I also formulated during the unfolding of the Bodnariu saga last year. Norway has a hidden agenda. Norwegians hardly reproduce and, for Norway to survive, there is a need to convert to “norwegianism” or “scandinavianism” the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who currently live there, and, especially, their many children. Children of immigrants can no longer be killed, unlike the children storied in the First Chapter of the Book of Exodus, but the policy has the same aim and is applied, morally speaking, by equally deplorable means.

I certainly hope that Barnevernet will immediately return Ishaan to his biological mother and father. The child’s seizure is a crime against humanity, human decency, and a violation of civilized norms. It is a violation of the Laws of Nations to take a child from his biological mother because the mother suffers from post-partum depression. It is also a violation of basic human rights for the state to knock on one’s door and say „hand over your children to the state,” without court papers or good cause.

The family has written to the case worker requesting the return of the child. Their plea, however, was in vain. Surprisingly, the case worker responded, informing the family that “the baby is being taken very good care of” in foster care. Nothing was said, however, about returning the child to his biological parents.

Petre Costea
Petre Costea
Civil rights attorney practicing in Houston, Texas. He also holds a PhD in diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, Massachusetts.

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