Šárka (Czech Republic)
A girl born on April 30th 2015, her mother, a 26-year-old Czech Sarka S., educated economist and a Norwegian father, also an economist.
A little girl born with a severe genetic disease belonging to the group of so-called rare diseases that mainly affects kidneys (currently there are only several dozens of people registered having this disease). Until the transplant will be done she relies on peritoneal dialysis and intravenous feeding.
Suffering a serious condition after her birth. In the first weeks of her life, doctors suspected brain damage, which was later not confirmed. Until the correct diagnosis has been done, the child suffered from repeated breakdowns and was dependent on medical devices, with a prospect of living in pain. At this point parents in the hospital, in cooperation with the ethics committee, admitted that in case such a decision would have to take place, they would be afraid to prolong further suffering of the child.
Local hospital treatment repeatedly failed and there were conflicts between the personnel and the parents, but in retrospect these failures were caused by lack of hospital personnel's experience with such a rare disease. Since the correct diagnosis of the child has been made, the relationship between parents and doctors became very good, the medical personnel made that very clear during the trial and fully supported the family.
After one of the transports to Oslo little girl had to be carried complicated surgery, during which an old dialysis catheter ingrown into the abdominal cavity has been removed and replaced with a new one. At this point, the parents (following their peers' recommendation) turn for help to the municipality of Fredrikstad, which provides the so-called 'relief service' for parents of children with serious health conditions. The family did not get any help. The hospital sends in good faith a request for assistance to Barnevernet (without their parents' knowledge) because doctors believe that Barnevernet's social workers are responsible for providing such help.
Barnevernet decided to remove the child based on a message of concern sent by Oslo hospital's paediatric unit HR manager, as a result of the family complaining on nurse's bad work before the surgery, during which both little girl's kidneys were removed. This man has never seen the child with her parents, the nurse saw the parents only once, on the day when the message of concern was filed. The message of concern was submitted by a man without medical training, a man only in charge of the clinic's human resources.
Attending physicians and medical staff, who are in contact with the girl's parents and who care for the girl (both in Oslo and the local hospital), supported the family and testified that the family is doing a great job and that the child, despite her condition and need to be connected to peritoneal dialysis daily, was developing well and was even ahead of children of her age.
Parents had only two meetings with Barnevernet for the entire period, social workers has never seen parents with the child together. Nevertheless in the documents they argued that the parents
did not have sufficient contact with the child. Appointments were recorded by the parents. Barnevernet did not communicate the reason for removing the child in person, only at the meeting on 12th November 2015 Barnevernet stated an ultimatum: either shall they give up their child voluntarily, or she would be removed by them.
• Reasons for child removal stated by Barnevernet:
• Parents have insufficiently developed relation and contact with their child
• Parents repeatedly expressed that they would not like their daughter to suffer
• Mother in one case stated that she would rather give her daughter away to not have to watch her suffer.
• Barnevernet has the impression that parents are failing to care for her daughter, who is, due to her serious medical condition, in a need of extremely intensive help that she is not getting.
• The official letter announcing taking the child into social services care has been delivered only four days after the removal. The document confirming permanent removal of the child has been delivered to the parents on Christmas Eve.
• The baby was scheduled for a kidney transplant after she would gain 10 kg in weight. Barnevernet expected the parents to be donors even after the removal.
• Since the beginning the family possessed documentation proving serious contradictions between statements made by Barnevernet and the doctors, who were taking care of the child.
• Barnevernet has refused that either child's health assessment or parents' psychological assessment should have been made.
• The little girl was supposed to be moved to another hospital despite the warning about her critical condition made by medical personnel, who expressed their concern for the risk the girl would be exposed to if a new personnel unaware of her condition should be taking care of her. The only reason for the move was to enable the foster mother to have the daughter geographically closer to her, so that she would not have to commute to the hospital. Such a move has been avoided thanks to the help of both doctors' and lawyers' request.
• The child has been held in one hospital room the entire time during the nearly three months she was taken away from her parents. While parents used to take the girl home every day, the foster parent was only visiting her and she left her alone during the Christmas holidays. During that time, the child has suffered from several infections and she regressed in her development.
• The family was given right of contact only twice a week for one hour. Any other access to the hospital was prohibited.
• Ex post - i.e. after the removal - Barnevernet tried to defame the parents by accusing them that the child's father had committed violence against his former wife. The truth was, however, that there has been a conflict between the former spouses about his children; the ex-wife refused to follow the court ruling and let him visit the children. There was no violence present in their relationship.