Norway Returns 12-Y-O Son to Homeschool Parents After They Agree to Surrender Passports
Norwegian child services has returned a 12-year-old Christian boy to his parents after the child was forcibly removed from the home following the parents' decision to homeschool their son because he was being bullied at school.
Leif and Terese Kristiansen announced on Wednesday that their son, Kai, is has returned to their home in Ås.
"We are very pleased to announce that Kai is back in his home with his family. We're very happy to see him again," Leif Kristiansen wrote in a Facebook post. "We couldn't have done this without international support from others who have contributed to us getting him back home. We are forever grateful."
The family made international headlines when the father posted a now-deleted viral video on Facebook earlier this month that showed their son being chased around in the snow by police and agents of Norway's child services agency, Barnevernet, before eventually being toppled like a fugitive and sat on while his mother cried for help.
The Kristiansens say their son was reported to the agency by his school weeks after he was removed from the school.
The boy's family says they removed Kai from the school because he was being bullied and harassed. The Kristiansens maintain that they filled out the paperwork to disenroll their son from the school, and they planned to temporarily homeschool him until another school could be found.
On Feb. 8, about three weeks after he stopped going to school, police officers and Barnevernet agents went to the house with a removal order.
Although a county board initially approved Kai's removal days later, the family had an appeal hearing last Thursday.
Supporters were left in suspense for days as the Kristiansens did not post an immediate update until Wednesday. Advocates close to the situation told The Christian Post that they feared the family was being intimidated into silence.
"Our lawyer advised us not to announce here on Facebook before Kai was back home," Kristiansen explained in his Facebook post. "We had to consent to an agreement with conditions that are not completed until [May]. This is an exhausting process, but a small price to pay to get Kai back home."
Raymond Skorstad, CEO of the Norway-based child advocacy organization Barnets Beste, told CP that the Kristiansens had to agree to give up their passports to the government until May 3.
Additionally, the couple agreed to attend meetings and have the school's psychological service assist their child.
"This is reasonable terms in order to secure the homecoming of the boy and it satisfies the concern that cps have," Skorstad told CP. "But it is still a brutal invasion of the Kristiansens rights to private life."
Terese Kristiansen, a Canadian mother living in Norway, told CTV News after her son was removed that she filled out all the necessary paperwork to transfer her son to another school. However, she told the outlet on Wednesday that the situation happened because of a "misunderstanding."
Although the couple pulled their son out of school to temporarily homeschool him, the school didn't give their approval.
"He didn't have approval for homeschooling, even though we let them know and we followed the law," Kristiansen said. "It was a complete misunderstanding and it was a bit extreme to go this far."
The Barnevernet has received international criticism from children and parental rights advocates who claim the agency is too quick or unjustified in its removal of children from parents.
In 2015, the agency removed five children from the home of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu, a Romanian Christian couple living in Norway, because of the fact that they spank their children as a disciplinary measure.
The children were removed from the home for months before being returned, which spawned numerous protests at Norwegian embassies across the globe.
Another Barnevernet case involves an American mother living in Norway, Amy Jacobsen, who lost her son, Tyler, over a breast-feeding issue and hasn't seen him since 2014.