As most people count their blessings and prepare to enjoy Christmas with family, many others face serious struggles. Among these is the Swedish family of Annie and Christer Johansson whose only child, 7-year-old Dominic Johansson, was “kidnapped” by Swedish authorities in June of this year as the family was on a plane leaving the country for a new life and home in India. Annie Johansson is from India where her entire family lives.There are those who are concerned about the direction of this country under President Obama. That is their belief that this nation is going into a more socialist direction as may exist in Sweden.
The Johanssons’ lives suddenly changed, and a nightmare ensued as police officers took Dominic off the plane at the orders of local social workers. They didn’t have a warrant, and they didn’t charge the Johanssons with any crime. Their reasoning? Dominic had been homeschooled, and the authorities wanted to make sure he was receiving an education.
After some testing by Swedish authorities, it was discovered that Dominic was only slightly behind in some subjects, but that he had been making academic progress. The family had been refused school materials by their local school when they had asked for them last year. As a homeschooling family, the Johanssons lean towards unschooling, profess the Christian faith, and try to live close to nature. Mr. and Mrs. Johannson had made plans to move to India to work with several orphanages to help them to live simply and economically. Although their lifestyle is out of the ordinary to Swedish officials, nothing in their approach to family life justified such a radical state intervention. In addition to living simply, the Johanssons exercised their legal rights to opt out of vaccinations for their son as well as only taking him to the doctor when he was sick, also reasons cited by the court to allow Swedish social services to retain custody of Dominic.
Swedish press has reported that senior police officials in Sweden have criticized local police and social workers for their sensational actions. Press reports also suggest that the local social services may be caught in a trap of their own making. They must continue with their course of action or otherwise admit that they have disgracefully ruined a family and traumatized a child. Some Swedish newspapers also report that the pride and stereotyping exhibited by social workers in this case imply they are out to get this family. According to letters obtained by HSLDA, the most recent decision of the local social workers is that they will not be allowing Annie and Christer to visit with Dominic until after New Year’s Day. And then they will be permitted one-hour visits every fifth week.
Mr. Johansson expressed deep concern about the state of his wife. “Annie cannot even talk right now. We are in total shock. We had hoped the court would return our son. We have been and remain willing to cooperate with social services, but they keep telling us we are not capable of caring for our son. This is not true. We have taken care of Dominic. While we may do things differently than most Swedes, we have not broken any laws and we have not harmed our son. We decided as a family that we wanted to move to India where we could be near my wife’s family. But the government has taken over my family, and now we are living in a nightmare. I fear for the life of my wife under this torture and for the well being of my son who has only been allowed to see his parents for a few hours since he was taken. The government is alienating my son from me, and I am powerless to do anything.”
The Swedish press has reported that the court admits the family has taken care of Dominic as they thought best, but insists the government’s plan is better.
In its opinion the court noted that Dominic had some untreated cavities and had not been vaccinated. The court also said that because Dominic had not been in school he had been “socially isolated.” This, the court said, demonstrated that the parents were not aware of the impact their decision to homeschool would have on Dominic’s future development and opportunities. Social workers and the court have mentioned the psychiatric condition of Mr. and Mrs. Johansson. However, Mr. Johansson vehemently denies any such mental problems.
A former Swedish social worker who spoke with HSLDA anonymously severely criticized how current social workers are treating the Johanssons.
“This case is an absolute outrage,” the former social worker said. “From the taking of the child off a plane by uniformed police officers to the absurd visitation schedule and now the complete cessation of visits. The social workers in this case are letting their pride interfere with the best interests of this little boy. In Sweden the socialist mindset of the government is that it knows what’s best for kids—better than their own parents. And in the case where a family, like the Johanssons, may do things that are different, the government intervenes.”
The court opinion also noted that Dominic had not been to the normal child care facilities and to school.
The social worker continued, “What is normal? In whose opinion? Why should the government get to make this decision? The boy is being taken care of and not being harmed. The family had decided to move to India where the mother is from. What is wrong with this?”
I don't have children yet, but when I do the last thing I want to worry about is the state deciding that how I'm raising my children is simply not up to their snuff. Of course that's not to say there aren't those parents who aren't taking care of their children. There are some awful parents out there.
I just hope that the reasoning isn't as loopy!