The father of five Romanian Pentecostal children who were taken into custody by the Norwegian government last year was finally allowed to visit with his two oldest sons for the first time in nearly three months.
After the five children of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu were taken from their parents custody by the Barnevernet (Norway's child services) last November based on allegations that they spanked their children, the authorities provided the Romanian Pentecostal parents with limited visitation rights.
Although both parents are allowed to visit their infant son, Ezechiel, twice per week, neither parent has been granted permission to visit with their two daughters, Eliana and Naomi. Even though Ruth has been granted permission to visit with their two oldest sons, Matei and Ioan, once per week for two-hour intervals, Marius was not granted any visitation rights with them.
But according to an update posted to the Bodnariu family's website, Marius was finally allowed to visit with his sons on Tuesday for a total of two hours.
The visit comes after Marius was told by the Barnevernet that he would be allowed to visit with his sons last week but was later told that the visit had to be canceled because the agency was not able to prepare all the details for the visit.
"It was emotional: two hours that Marius anticipated and waited for impatiently," the post written by Pastor Cristian Ionescu, vice president of the Romanian Pentecostal Union in the United States and Canada, explained. "Ruth was filled with joy to see how happy the boys were to see Marius. Marius was happy to see the children's joy, but also for Ruth who almost fell into depression last week when the visit was cancelled and delayed."
Ionescu explained that the last time the boys visited with their mother, they expressed interest in eating hotdogs. During Tuesday's visit, they were able to heat hot dogs with their father.
"Matei told the parents about a dream he had, a dream in which they were together again," Ionescu wrote. "Marius asked him if all of them were together in the dream, to which Matei answered: 'Yes, [we] were together, Eliana, Naomi, Ioan, Ezechiel, mama, papa and [myself].'"
Although Marius was overjoyed to visit with his two sons, the visit was "dampened" by issues that have not been made public due to the Barnevernet's pending case against the parents.
"One thing is clear: the children miss and love the parents!" Ionescu, who is also the pastor of the Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church in Chicago, asserted. "God protects their fragile minds, even in dreams at night He comforts and encourages them!"
The Bodnariu parents will have to wait until at least March for their next court hearing to determine whether they can regain custody of their children. Before the hearing, the agency wants the parents to undergo a psychological evaluation.
The Bodnariu's are not alone in their ordeal, as thousands of supporters have taken to the streets in cities all over the world to protest and call on the Norwegian government to release the children back to their parents.
As Norway has strict laws on how parents can punish their children, including laws against spankings, migrant families are susceptible to backlash from the Barnevernet if they do not fully understand the country's parenting laws.
As thousands of Romanian Pentecostals have already protested outside of Norwegian embassies in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, India, Poland, Belgium, Czech Republic, and other Western nations, even more protests are scheduled for later this week.
Six protests will be held on Saturday in San Francisco, Madrid, Toronto, Athena, and in two Romanian cities. On Friday, one protest will be held on in Belgium.