An American mother now living in Norway is asking for the return of her three American-born children after they were removed from the family home in May, less than a year after moving to the Scandinavian country from Atlanta, Georgia.
American citizen Natalya Shutakova is now speaking out a month after her kids aged 7 to 11 were removed from the home about 70 miles southwest of Oslo by Norway’s controversial child protective services agency, Barnevernet, on May 20.
The children — 11-year-old Brigita, 9-year-old Nikita and 7-year-old Elizabeth — have been placed in foster care. The parents now have limited visiting rights after not being able to see their children for several weeks.
Shutakova says that she and her husband, Lithuanian citizen Zigintas Aleksandravicius, were accused of “child mistreatment,” a claim that they outright deny.
Shutakova kept quiet about the ordeal for nearly a month, claiming that she was told that she could be jailed for about two years if they spoke publicly about the case before June 11.
But now that June 11 has passed, Shutakova is opening up about the case.
In a recent podcast interview with Björn Korf, the founder of the Austrian-based advocacy group Step Up 4 Children’s Rights, Shutakova said that her kids were removed from the home on a Monday night following a long holiday weekend where they celebrated their oldest daughter’s birthday.
During the celebration, the parents gave 11-year-old Brigita a cell phone.
“After misbehaving over the weekend, we decided to take it back in disciplinary measure. She got really upset with us for taking that present away from her,” Shutakova explained.
On Monday, Shutakova got a message from Brigita’s teacher saying that her daughter didn’t have lunch and was hungry. Shutakova told Korf that she always packs lunches for her children and went to the school to see why her child did not have anything to eat.
The teacher told Shutakova that it was not the first time that Brigita went hungry with no lunch. Shutakova said she was “shocked” to hear such a thing because she always sends her kids “to school with a full lunchbox.”
According to Shutakova, Brigita has had a history of lying in the past and believes her daughter may have been lying on that occasion.
“She was hiding the lunch in the bookbag,” Shutakova said. “That was the reason she was hungry.”
“Also on my May 20th, she had complained about parents taking away her phone over the weekend,” Shutakova continued. “On the 17th of May, everybody saw her happy on her birthday during the celebration and everything. On Monday, when she came back to school from the long weekend, she wasn’t happy. That really caught the teacher’s attention because, what could have happened?”
That Monday night, Shutakova said, three police cars came to the house after 9 p.m. when the kids were sleeping. The whole family was taken to a police station near their home in Notodden. The family was held there for over 24 hours, she said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith