Photo by Julian-G. Albert
by Elsa Christensen
It is Ascension day, Thursday the fifth of May, 2016. A mother walks through the gates of Vilde “Home for Mothers,” never to return. She takes her son with her, a boy of about five months. The next days will be the first days that the mother and the baby get to be together without any public surveillance in a governmental institution, surveillance by the CPS.
Mother and child had survived five months away from home, observed day and night in an institution with video surveillance. Their performance of day-to-day tasks had been continuously monitored. In addition, daily notation of facial expressions, mood, and development were recorded. And then there was the IQ testing.
Why was this Mother’s freedom to be in a normal social setting taken from her? When she was thirteen years old she was at school with her twelve year old sister. The authorities came in with the CPS and forcefully separated the two sisters who tried desperately to hold on to one another. The police also took their three other siblings.
“I was fine when I lived at home,” the mother remembers.
From that day, the five siblings never lived together, nor did they get to live with their parents as youngsters. The siblings were spread out, and the girl of thirteen was forced to live in a CPS institution. The other children in the institution were experimenting with several kinds of drugs. The loss of everything that was familiar to her made her seek consolation in the drugs she was offered. Her addiction followed her the next thirteen years. Then she got pregnant.
The day after giving birth to a son on December 1, 2015, it was explained to the mother that the CPS could help. She was told this because the goal was to remove her child from her. This fact was hidden from the mother.
Proposal of Help #1: Two CPS employees came to see her the day after she gave birth. They told her that the child was going to be moved to a foster home.
Proposal of Help#2: On the same day, the CPS promised the mother that they would not take the child if she agreed to admit herself for observation at the Sudmanske “Home for Mothers” in Bergen, Norway.
The mother accepted the “help;” she had no choice if she wanted to keep her boy. Most people would call this coercion. The CPS called it “voluntary acceptance of help.” After approximately a week in the hospital, the mother and child were moved to Sudmanske.
Proposal of Help #3: About two weeks later, two days before Christmas at midnight, the institution staff met with the mother. Instead of the expected discussion of her progress, she was informed that her son would be taken from her as a part of the third proposal of help. Up to this point, she had been breast feeding the boy.
The mother felt powerless after losing her living child, and she did not know where the CPS had taken him. She knew that the boy was taken from the person he belonged to and was a part of.
Proposal of Help #4: About five weeks after the baby was born, the mother was offered another proposal of help. The little boy would be returned to her immediately if she voluntary admitted herself for observation in the Vilde “Home for Mothers” in Horton, Norway. The coercive “offer” was accepted, the baby boy was returned, and the move was made to Vilde. The Norwegian CPS once again called it a “voluntary acceptance of a proposal for help.”
The Vilde “Mothers’ Home” is approximately 500 kilometers from the mother’s home in Bergen.
After four months of continuous observation at Vilde, the mother ended the fourth help proposal on her own initiative on the fifth of May.
For many decades, up until the 1970’s, children of wanderers such as gypsies, were taken by force from their parents. The CPS was assisted by the police to give these children what the government said they needed: a childhood without parents and siblings. They would be housed in institutions. Between 25% to 33% of gypsie children born between 1900 and 1960 were treated this way. Girls were IQ tested and sterilized. This was also done to some boys. In addition, whole families were interned in labor colonies. There, among other things, they were taught a “regular life characterized by tough discipline.” This was said to be “voluntary,” but clear threats to take away their children gave parents no choice but to except this existence.
“This is our near history. The last labor colony was closed in 1989. The last sterilizing was done in 1964. Later on, the government had to pay compensation for the abuse, and asked for forgiveness for destroying lives.” (Nina E. Tveter)
Does the mindset behind these actions live on?
Twenty-four years after the last forced sterilization in Molde, Norway, and about the same time as they closed Svanviken labor colony in Nordmøre, the social worker Kari Killén wrote a Doctoral Thesis. It was this work that made it possible for CPS to become as it is today.
After a study of only 17 children, Killen shaped the future CPS, a CPS based on measures of the parents’ functions. Killén told the social workers to evaluate “which parents can help children to survive!” (Molde, Norway, 19.02.2009)
The social workers in Norway and Scandinavia took her grand mission very seriously, and the results of their evaluations are catastrophic. The CPS and the police are now forcing 4-5 children each day out of their homes, most of them never to return to their parents. Last year this “protection” of Norwegian children cost the government 20 billion NOK.
The Middle Class Emotional Neglect
Killén, a social worker, is responsible for an important part of the curriculum for people studying to become social workers, and she has been teaching these courses for years. According to Kari Killén, 45% of Norwegian children suffer from emotional neglect. Her thinking is the foundation for the Norwegian CPS today: that 45% of our children will be traumatized by their own parents because of dubious bonding. When this happens, the CPS needs to “assist” people. Killén’s conclusion is based on this assertion: 45% of our children have parents that cannot help them survive without damage!
Killén argues that the percentage is so high because of a new type of neglect that she calls: “The emotional neglect in the middle class.” This is something that only some of the highly educated can understand: some health nurses, doctors and others may discover it from the time of the pregnancy.
Killen says that “Middle Class Emotional Neglect” is hard to discover and the damage does not show until the child is three to five years old, and particularly in the teen years.
A National Breakdown?
If there is any truth to Killén’s assumption, it would be a sign of a total breakdown of the Norwegian welfare state. Of course, this idea makes no sense and the result of the work that the CPS has done based upon it must be seen as one of the greatest tragedies of our time.
A Forced Stay in a “Home for Mothers”
It wasn’t that long ago that gypsies had the choice between moving to a labor colony, or losing their children and getting sterilized. Today, hundreds of women yearly get the choice between moving to “Homes for Mothers” for observation, or losing their children at once. Just like the gypsies before them, these “choices” are called “voluntary.” We find this enforced in the CPS statistics under the term “help.”
In our culture, women with newborns have traditionally been well cared for. They get help in the house, food served in bed, helpful advice on breast feeding, and care from women that are friends. In the institutions, the women are merely being observed! They are taken away and isolated from their friends and family, people with whom it is natural to share the joy over the baby.
Many women in these institutions tell stories of how they initially got a warm welcome so it was natural to open up and talk about themselves. Then the illegal video surveillance started and there were demands for detailed plans of their daily tasks. The requirement: their plans had to be noted every half hour. Any supervision and guidance came mostly in the form of negative criticism. Monitoring of the voice, facial expressions, hygiene, and lack of initiative were recorded. Finally, the lack of eye contact with the child and other signs of supposed lack of interaction were seriously considered. The things the mothers told about themselves in confidence at the beginning of their stay, was written in an “end report” that was unrecognizable to the mothers themselves.
“End reports” on the different mothers are strangely similar. Many mothers are in despair, often there with their first child. They have “let themselves” be institutionalized by force in a desperate hope of getting to keep their baby or of not losing it again. Most of them do not return home with their children.
The mother mentioned earlier in this narrative survived five months under observations just like these. Every time a child was taken, she remembered when her own baby was taken from her at three weeks of age. She cried every time a child disappeared. In her “end report,” her crying was interpreted this way: “the mother is unstable!” She had lost once and was afraid to lose again.
“End reports” from ” “Home for Mothers”
The “end reports” from “Home for Mothers” are the most depressing literature I have read during my study of the CPS. The heartless lack of concern that make their methods possible are reflected in written observations. A family therapist will deliver these “end reports” to be used by the Council Committee and judges, who need proof for decisions. The “end reports” have a huge impact on the lives of children, parents and whole families.
As noted earlier, the reports are strangely similar. Most things are interpreted in the worst possible way. They are full of symbols, meaning no direct accusations, that describe irrelevant circumstances. Circumstances that, if they were relevant, would discredit the parent and strengthen the therapist’s allegations. Just as enlightening as the things in the report are the things that are withheld on purpose.
In the report above of the woman who moved out voluntarily, breast feeding was mentioned as something she wanted to do, but it was not mentioned as something that she actually did. The fact that she was breast feeding the child until the CPS placed the boy with strangers is deliberately withheld! They did not mention that when the mother got her boy back in her arms after two weeks, her breasts were still not completely dry. They withheld the fact that the mother asked the public health nurse and the doctor in “The Mothers Home” if they thought that she could get the milk production back up, so she could continue breast feeding. They told her she couldn’t! Others knew that she could have managed it easily with some help and in a safe environment. A family therapist described the lack of eye contact between mother and child. She didn’t mention that the CPS kept them from developing the natural eye contact that breast feeding gives, and didn’t mention that they had the mother believing that she could never have this “free” eye contact again with the boy. (A baby’s eye sight is sharpest in the distance from the breast to the mothers face.) Another important fact that was held back was that the mother and child that they observed had just been reunited! The baby came from a two week stay in an emotional no-man’s-land (two weeks, in a lifetime of five weeks). The mother was scared and felt that she was in a dangerous situation after having lost her baby, having it back, and then being threatened of losing it again. The family therapist did not mention that the observations were made in the light of this dramatic break in the relationship between the mother and the baby.
Killén teaches that the people who do not have the necessary caring skills, will probably never learn them. This explains why the “Home for Mothers” is the exact opposite of what is normal in the rest of society. The “Home” does not give help when needed. They do nothing to strengthen and support people who are managing the best they can. These “Homes” merely observe and call it “help.” In reality, they are “helping” the child be torn from where it belongs.
The CPS in the Future
We know a lot about some groups of people in the government who would like to control family activity. Recently, a member of the parliament and social committee suggested that the CPS should start to prepare when the woman is pregnant. The CPS seems to listen to this member.
How many groups of people should be deemed unworthy of the parenting role? The gypsies were told clearly in their time to stop giving birth or be sterilized. Many people who have been involved with the CPS say that sterilization would almost have been better, (because then we would have known for sure that we don´t have a future in our own country.)
Time may be short before claims for compensation will come from the survivors who had their lives ruined by the CPS. It appears that it will be a tough battle. Until then, the CPS will use money from the 20 billion NOK they have at their disposal, for a very peculiar purpose; forcing CPS employees into the homes of families to restore the good impression of the CPS! The ones that are coerced to accept this “help” become traumatized families, in numerous cases, they may get their children back only after long battles with the CPS. As stated earlier, in many cases, they never get their children back.
The true author of this real life story is Margaret Hennum. (She has been given the pseudonym Elsa Christensen in the article above.) Her identity became known when baby Caspian, was taken from his mother, Nadia, for no good reason whatsoever. Margaret was attempting to help Nadia and Caspian prepare for a normal life (something a good Samaritan would do). Margaret gave a speech at a demonstration against the Norwegian CPS only weeks before her world was rudely interrupted by the CPS. They came to her house and took Caspian on June 13th, 2016.
Speech held at the demonstration in Oslo May 5th, 2016
My name is Margaret Hennum. I am a pediatric nurse and have been working with children and with families in crisis almost my entire adult life. I am a mother of two, but I have never been involved with the Norwegian Child Protection service (CPS), “barnevernet”. So why am I standing here now?
Well, eight years ago I read a book called “Power abuse and miscarriage of justice” by Berit Aarset, a grandmother writing about how the CPS took away the healthy and sound one-year-old from the mother.
I, who hardly ever thought about the CPS before, got a wake up call, and couldn’t NOT stand her. After I read the book, I have heard of an alarming number of parents with similar stories. And I have seen that the Child Protection Service, with the word “protection” in their name, is not a protector, but have become a large threat to our children’s lives and well being!
The CPS has as an official goal to remove more and more children from their homes, and they do. But it is not the neglected children they take. Most of them are healthy, functioning children without any signs of neglect. “This can’t be true,” you say, “there must be something more, right?” Yes, there kind of is, but not in the way you would think. For the CPS thinks they are capable of judging who is able to raise a child and who is not. So even if the children are OK living with their parents right now, they mean to see the parents as a threat to the children in the future. Then they suddenly remove the child without warning, and thereby inflicts the child’s loss of parents, loss of siblings, loss of grandparents, friends and all what they belong to!
It is more than 50 years since health care realized that the parents should come with when children were hospitalized. They understood that the anger, despair and in the end the apathy the children showed, laying alone in the hospital bed, were reactions to loss, natural reactions to the loss of their parents. Now, 50 years later the CPS are taking more and more children from their families, and the child protectors are proud of it!
In the Ida case, the newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad presented recently, we can read about a girl who got aggressive only after the CPS got involved. Many times the CPS describes the children they have removed from their parents as aggressive, despairing and depressed. Lawyer Sverre Kvilhaug says that in all the cases he has been working, he has NEVER seen that the CPS has considered the possibility that they themselves could have created aggressive, despairing and depressed children; these natural reactions to loss of family.
Homeless, yearning and insecure children become damaged children. They are put back in development and prevented from having a normal and healthy development. The CPS, who are making more and more of this homeless children, can not know what it means to belong!
For decades they have gone out to other institutions, like health centres, schools, hospitals and the government agency for children, youth and families, in addition to children and teen organizations, asking them to come to the CPS if they have any worries about a child. Many people have done this, and are shocked when the CPS then immediately empties the home of children.
Last year barnevernet spent 20 billion Norwegian kroner! So, of course, we now have to ask the question: what went so terribly wrong? The barnevernmentor Kari Killén has told her students since 1988 that 45%, nearly half the amount of all Norwegian children, have parents not able to bring up their kids without the help and advice from barnevernet!
If this was not a huge lie, it would imply a total collapse of our welfare society model! But even worse than the billions of kroner spent, are the sufferings of all the devastated families involved. Still the CPS wants more money. But they should not have it; instead their budget will be squeezed. And their only responsibility that will be left for them, are for those severely neglected children, these who are let down by the CPS today. We do not accept that the CPS can be an intruder in the lives of normal, functioning families. The help that normal families need from the government are provided by other government institutions like health centres, schools and hospitals. And then we need to get the “housewife substitute” back!
Until the CPS has lost most of the current functions, we need to stop reporting anything but sure neglect.
The CPS is now not only a threat against those directly involved, but it is undermining the functions of important institutions like health centres and others, providing services that we all need. Because nobody should ever take the chance of showing their vulnerability to helpers instructed to be informers to the CPS.
I cannot think of anyone less trustworthy, and whom I will more strongly warn against, than those removing by force a 3 months old baby from its mothers breast!
These kind of people shall not take care of our children. Anyone who is deprived of their children must get the possibility of
having their case considered by a qualified investigating committee, and all those children who want it, must be allowed to return home to their families.
Finally, social media have lately revealed the inner workings of maternal homes, where hundreds of parents are forced into. Most of the parents leave without their kids. Those places are not a home for mothers, were you get advice and help. Those places are observation institutions, were despaired and frightened parents are kept, forced by the CPS to enter. If not, they will loose their child immediately! Just like the gypsies were forced only a few years ago. The only difference is, that the gypsies were sterilized by force. The parents today are not sterilized, but they are denied having a family! And like the gypsies, parents are painstakingly intelligence tested.
As strong as I can, I am warning you: never agree to go to those family centres or maternal homes! Flee abroad, hide yourself in Norway, fight for your child among people who want the best for you!