Hyacinth Österlin's letter to the NCHR. An emigrated immigrant's views on the Götene Case

Hyacinth Österlin’s letter to the NCHR. An emigrated immigrant's views on the Götene Case


Hyacinth Österlin is the former Honorary Consul of Jamaica to Sweden. She is the mother of three and grandmother of one. She no longer resides in Sweden.

Hyacinth Österlin is an educator and lecturer who is very engaged in social issues, especially questions concerning the family.

This letter was sent to the NCHR on November 21, 2002. It is published here with the kind consent of the author.

NB. Please see below for a short resumé of the Götene Case.



Dear NCHR,


Thank you for keeping me informed of the continuing situation with children who for one reason or another are taken from their parents and placed in foster homes.  It is with horror that I read some of the stories in the newspapers!  In what other country does this happen on so regular a basis? 

As far as I have understood, this was a Soviet practice because their ideology demanded that the State, not the parents, foster children, thereby making it easier for indoctrination.


Unfortunately, there are parents who, for one reason or another, are incapable of providing proper care for their children; and then, of course, it is good that some organisation, or the State, sees to the plight of these children.  Sweden has a long history of looking after the welfare of its citizens and it was my belief that the State was sincere in its goals - to make a better life for its people - and indeed I have talked endlessly about this in several countries.


But I have to re-consider in the light of the treatment being meted out to some children who are forcefully removed from their parents, put in foster homes, never to be re-united with their parents, grandparents and other close relatives as they seem to be forbidden to have any contact whatsoever. This because the child/children need to bond with foster parents!


So that in addition to the shock of being removed to live with strangers, these children are denied the right to have visits from any familiar faces, denied recourse to bond with their own blood! What are the criteria for strangers to foster children that preclude relatives who are able and willing to take these children in their care?  Surely the horrors of displaced children in wars cannot be lost on the authorities?  Are there statistics to show how these children actually fare in the long run?  What percentage has been able to lead "normal" lives without serious psychological disturbance?  How many suicides or attempted suicides?  Why have hearts become so hardened to genuine distress caused by these decisions?  Why do courts continue to uphold these decisions?


What can be the motivation that a country as enlightened as Sweden continues with such policies and practice!  Surely the Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Social Workers understand that it is not money which provides security. 

I remember seeing a documentary on children in India in which the Swedish journalist expressed shock that Indian children living in poverty, not knowing where the next meal would come from, were laughing and playing! 

That was simply because these children were in a community which provided some measure of a feeling of belonging!


There must be some children who have benefited, there must be some foster parents who are genuinely interested in the best welfare for the children in their care and provided excellent care; but it seems that there is a suspicion that this is becoming a business; and in business it is the bottom line, profitability, that counts!


Children are our greatest asset. Without them the generations cease. 

Damaged children usually make for damaged adults and this is being passed on to the next generation.


I now have a granddaughter.  And for me, the Creation story provides the greatest wonder that she, like a seed, was born with the eggs necessary to provide the next generation! I have already begun to tell her the stories I had from my mother and grandmother.  This is necessary for her to understand that the collective experiences of the generations reside within her and will contribute to her knowledge of "WHO SHE IS".  I want her to know what has gone into her makeup, even as she in herself is a whole person.  But later on she will understand why she reacts instinctively to certain situations as she does. Salmon swim thousands of miles to their "roots" to spawn!  Surely human beings have at least as strong instincts as salmon! 

Millions of adults admit to feeling rootless, restless, with a longing they cannot understand, seeking to "find themselves".  Thousands, perhaps millions, of adults are seeking to find their biological parents, and mostly when they do, there is "closure", a word that is fast becoming a cliché. 

Even if they agree not to continue the relationship, that is a conscious decision taken, and they are able to move on. There are cases where children, born through donated sperm, are demanding to know who their fathers are!  Why?  And despite all this evidence, the authorities continue to deny access to people of the children’s own blood!


I do not agree with Khalil Gibran that we "should not give our children our thoughts".  If I do not relate my experiences, do not share with them some of my thought processes, how will they ever know ME?  How will they ever understand me?  If I do not encourage them to share their thoughts with me, how will I understand them?  I do not own my children; but since they chose to be born to me, I thank them for their gift and I cherish the gift.  I nurture them to the best of my ability and then it is for them to make their own choices, and live with the consequences of their choice, as we all MUST DO!


I will write further on the subject of mixed children which is of particular interest. Please continue to do the best you can for those who are not able to speak for themselves!


Very sincerely,

Hyacinth Österlin




The Götene Case



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The Götene Case

The Götene Case

By Ruby Harrold-Claesson, Attorney at law, President of the NCHR


This resumé of the Götene case is presented here for our foreign readers.



The municipality of Götene took all three children, aged 13, 10 and 7 of a family that had no previous contacts either with the social services or the police, into public care in the autumn of 2001. The children were placed in separate institutions. Accusations of abuse in the family have long since been written off by the police. However, the social workers and the social council succeeded in obtaining court decisions for the "care of the children". The costs for the tax-payers have been enormous - several million crowns.


The father is Swedish and the mother is from Assyria. The children have been forbidden to speak to their mother in her own language. The 13-year old daughter was placed in a home with older teenagers who had problems with drugs and prostitution.


Shortly after the 13-year old daughter was taken into care in August 2001, the father contacted the NCHR. He was warned about the safety of the younger children. They were abducted from their school with the help of the police in November 2001. The younger children have been ill-treated by the staff at the institution where they were placed. Relatives from other European countries travelled to Sweden to visit the children, but they were denied the right to see them. The younger children managed, however, to get word out to their parents that they were being ill-treated. They were immediately removed from the institution and placed at a secret address. They have been totally isolated from their parents for several months. Letters from the parents to their children were intercepted by the social workers. The parents were not even allowed telephone contacts with their children. The family's priest was not allowed to visit the children, either.


While in state care, the children were allowed to go to school only three hours per day.


Upon advice from the NCHR, the father engaged assistant professor Bo Edvardsson, at the University of Örebro to do an analysis of the documentation that the social services used in their accusations against the parents. According to Edvardsson, the material was the most outrageous that he had ever seen. He called it "an unusually brutal case".


The Tabloid newspaper "The Gothenburg Newspaper" published a series of articles about the case between November 9 - 14 and again on November 22, 2002. On Monday last, (11/11) the

District Administrative Court
in Mariestad held a marathon hearing of the case. The proceedings took 14 hours and ended at 11 p.m.


On November 21, 2002, the District Administrative Court in Mariestad delivered its verdict in the case. The court lifted the care order. According to the provisions in the verdict, the decision gained force of law immediately.


The parents intend to fetch their children from their captivity without delay.



For access to the Tabloid publications please see "Kampen om barnen - Götenefallet" in the Nordic section. Unfortunately it is in Swedish, but the photos give a candid picture of the way the Swedish system of taking children into public care works.



Hyacinth Österlin's letter to the NCHR. An emigrated immigrant's views on the Götene Case.


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