The Romanian Pentecostal parents who have been separated from their five children by Norway's child protective services were reunited with all of their kids in the same place for the first time since the family's ordeal began in November.
According to a website set up in support of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu after their children were removed from their home in Naustdal, Norway, by the Barnevernet on Nov. 16, the parents were finally allowed to have a three-hour visiting session with all of their children on Tuesday.
After it was alleged that the parents spanked their children — a disciplinary tactic that is banned in Norway — the parents were only allowed limited visitation with their three sons and were barred from visiting their two daughters.
"It was joyous because for the first time in three months, Marius and Ruth were together with all five children at the same time, in the same place. It was such a happy reunion, for everybody had so much to say," the website announced in an official statement on Thursday.
"Naomi couldn't stop talking; Ioan, the 2-year-old boy had learned a few more words and had a lot to say also. Baby Ezekiel was happier than ever," the statement continued.
After the family talked and played, they sat at the table to eat a meal.
The statement details how the family, which previously claimed that their children were taken because of concerns with their Christian faith, was allowed to pray and even sang a prayer-song before they ate their rooster and soup.
Although most of the visit was joyous, the parents grew concerned after Naomi told them that she didn't want them to die because she still has much to learn from them. Naomi's comment led them to wonder where she got the idea that they were going to die.
"The day was a mixture of joy and sorrow, for after three hours had passed, they had to part again," the statement explains. "The children cannot understand why they can't stay with their parents but, instead, have to go to strangers."
The Bodnarius still need to stand trial in order to regain custody of their children. As the agency wants them to submit to a psychological evaluation, the family has requested that a psychologist not associated with the Barnevernet to do the evaluations.
The statement claims that the prosecutor denied the family's proposal for an outside psychologist.
Although supporters believed that the Bodnarius would have their day in court sometime in March, the statement implies that the case might not be heard until May.
"The same prosecutor is too busy to attend a court hearing before the end of May and Barnevernet thinks this is in the superior interest of the baby," the statement argues.
While the Norwegian media has been less-than sympathetic toward the Bodnariu family, the children's grandfather released a statement on Friday to break his silence about the situation.
"This case has hurt the whole family and way beyond us. It has also been painful to read articles about the case in different newspapers where the upbringing of the children has been presented negatively without knowing the actual conditions," Ruth's father was quoted as saying. "We who live here in the home and have had the children around us since they were born, must be the ones who know best how the children have been with their parents."
"Grandmother has at times taken much care of the children. When they came from school and the parents were not at home, the kids were with us," he continued. "When their present home was being refurbished, the whole family lived with us for six months, and we, thereby, had full insight into their upbringing."
The grandfather added that he has never seen any violence in their family.
"We can assure that we have never seen that violence has been used against the children. Not even that they have raised their voices to them," he said. "The children themselves have never told us that the parents have been nasty to them. For us who love our grandchildren so much, it would be inconceivable to know that they were not happy and not to intervene. After all, we are well informed people."