David Goldman’s fight to bring son home: heartbreaking

by singlemomseeking on September 25, 2008

Has anyone followed the story about David Goldman, who hasn’t seen his son for four years — and has been doing everything to get him back?

It all started when David drove his wife, Bruna, and their son, Sean, to the airport in 2004, where they boarded a plane to go on a vacation. She’s from Brazil and they were going to visit her family for two weeks.

But she never came back.

On MSNBC.com this week, Goldman said that he thought their marriage was solid and his wife was happy. But when she got to Brazil, his wife called him and said she was not returning to the United States.

And, she said, she was keeping Sean with her.

“I haven’t seen him in four years, and I’ve been desperately fighting and fighting to be with him,” Goldman told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira this week in New York.

The legal system stepped in. According to the laws of Brazil and the U.S. — as well as international law — Sean should have been returned home for a hearing. But Brazilian courts waited a year to respond to the New Jersey court, and then ruled that since so much time had passed, the child should stay with his mother.

In the meantime, Bruna obtained a divorce from David in Brazil and married a Brazilian lawyer. Her second husband comes from a prominent and politically well-connected family in that country.

Adding another almost surreal twist, Bruna — who was going to give birth to a second child with her new husband — died in childbirth last month.

“What I’ve been told is, we’re considered a paper tiger,” Goldman said. “We’ll write letters. We’ll have meetings. But there’s no accountability on Brazil for kidnapping my child.”

“How can it be possible, a non-blood person could take my child?” David asked.

Sean turned eight this summer.

David didn’t even know that Bruna had died, until friends did some research. “Since I am his biological father, and the only other person with a reasonable claim to custody,” David says on his website.

On Sept. 7, David caught a flight to Sao Paulo on with his mother. But Bruna’s Brazilian husband and parents refused to let Sean see his father or paternal grandmother.


The first thing I thought was, “Weren’t there any signs that this mother was lonely or unhappy?”

I can imagine her, a young Brazilian woman who married an American Jew. They lived in New Jersey, she was probably isolated.

But what went wrong? Why did she cut off contact from her husband?

Something is very wrong with this picture. I can only imagine this father’s heartache. It’s challenging for me to be apart from my kid for just 24 hours.

How can something like this happen today, with all of the technology and legal resources we have? The mother’s friends were blogging about her in Brazil after her death — c’mon, there MUST be a way to find this little boy!

How can this be?



On Dec. 27, 2009: David and his son, Sean, were re-united after four+ years! Read the story here.

David Goldman, his son Sean, and his late wife Bruna, www.bringseanhome.org

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

BringSeanHome! June 5, 2009 at 7:30 am

To say that David should move to Brasil to be with a son that was kidnapped from him is like saying that if someone acts in a criminal way toward you – you should bow to the will of the criminal. Plus that family NEVER wanted David to be with his son or they would have offered it instead of trying to remove his name from his OWN SON’S birth certificate over there. They have all sorts of trumped up suits awaiting for him – he’s having enough trouble dealing w/ them w/ American rights and American legal help – now he should go and be at the mercy of some kangaroo court in a country that would allow this to happen again? I hope something like this happens to you so you can have some human compassion for David AND for Sean who lost his beloved da da. Please apply some intelligence and logic to what you say in the future. You sound very ignorant sayting someone so ridiculous.


Pendaren March 16, 2009 at 9:57 am

I´m just pointing out that all he cares about is his progeny. There is a half sister who will also suffer without her brother, and him without her.

The best solution that would be in the best interest of the child would be to move to Brazil and live there perminantly. As a father of a Brazilian he doesn´t require a Visa nor to leave every 6 months. He can even obtain gainful employment as a perminant resident.

This way the boy and his sister won´t be separated, he can still go to the same school, maintain the same culture, etc. The Brazilian courts would be more inclined to grant him custody if he got off his “America is a better place to live” horse and truly thought about his son. All he would have to do is give his passport up until the boy was an adult to prevent another abduction and live with his son in Brazil.

There are THOUSANDS of cases in the US that basically force parents to make the same choices: family/home country or custody of their child(ren). Many mothers would love to move away legally but can´t out of fear of losing custody to the other parent. Even moving interstate is a massive ordeal. Intercontinental is near impossible.


Nagy Alina March 14, 2009 at 8:07 pm



Pendaren March 12, 2009 at 8:33 am

It is sad we will never get the other side of the story. First off, Sean has a biological sister he is being raised with. WHY split siblings up just to pander to a sperm donor? Children morally belong with their mothers and siblings PERIOD.
If the parent is unfit GRANDMA is next in line, NOT the sperm donor unless mother/grandmother consent. That is the way things should be.


singlemomseeking March 12, 2009 at 9:14 am

Pendaren, My understanding is this: David became a father and devoted himself to Sean and to being the best father he could be. That’s why I posted this.

Sean was ABDUCTED from him. To call David a “sperm donor” is outrageous.

I was going to delete your comment — I consider it immature — but decided to respond. I won’t begin to guess what your own motives are.


Admir March 8, 2009 at 6:50 pm

David, hang in there. I am sure your son will come back to you. Absurd what Bruna’s family is doing. Just absurd.


Chika Okwara March 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Brazillians should voice opposition
to the blatant misrepresentaton of their nation and it`s laws by the so called judges, who are bought by the rich to manipulate the law. This has brought Brazil to the attention of the world.


M. Guilliams March 6, 2009 at 11:59 am

I feel sorry for the child. It seems that he is happy and well adapted in his upper-middle class life-style in Rio de Janeiro going to private shcools and being raised by his loving grand-parents. Regardless, of what happens, he has not seen his father in 4 years. I hope that Psychologists are consulted so the best is done for the boy at this point — late in the game (It is a sad story!). God bless Sean!


Sarah March 4, 2009 at 7:24 pm

My heart goes out to you David. God Bless you and Sean.


Zack February 12, 2009 at 6:02 am

This is sadly a all too common case, and each one breaks my heart. We get angry at countries that allow the drug trade to flourish yet do nothing when they allow these “parents” to kidnap their kids and use them as weapons againest the other parent. It makes you not want to marry anyone from a foreign country for fear this could happen to your child.
David, I’m praying for you and that you’ll be able to bring your little boy home with you. You may have missed out on four precious years but there is still plenty of time to catch up and enjoy the bond only a father and son can share.


stef nobre February 9, 2009 at 10:01 pm



Dana Fortunato February 2, 2009 at 9:28 am

This is a human tragedy. Please help David by visiting bringseanhome.org. You can find email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses for government officials in the U.S. and Brazil, media contacts and other people who may be helpful if they are aware of the magnitude of this case. You can also visit https://www.zazzle.com/danaheart for t-shirts, postcards and bumper stickers to help raise awareness for David’s story and bringseanhome.org.


Krista Toups January 30, 2009 at 9:32 pm

This is beyond injustice. When do other countries have to start following Laws, that they have not only agreed to follow, but also han a hand in the making of them. It almost sounds like these people are privy to “beyond the law” type actions, maybe it is time to see what other options, sanctions, or other blocking, offensive moves, aggressive moves are your options. I would be happy to help with any letters, phone calls, anything, I think your son belongs with his true, biological, loving father and the rest of his family here, in the Uninted States!!!!!!
Thinking of you,


Natalie Ailos January 30, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Hi David,
I just wached the dateline special when it dawned on me that we went to high school together in Ocean Twp. anyway I felt such sadness and anger at the same time. I have three children of my own and I can’t even begin to imagine the nightmare you are going through.
My prayers are with you and your son. I know you will see him again, and raise him I’m sure that one day he will know the truth he is lucky to have you as a father.
Let me know if I can help in any way.
All my best Natalie


Peter Haines January 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm

As a father myself, I can’t imagine someone who is not blood-related taking away my child. This man has more than broken the law and knows what he is doing legally. There has to be an answer to this sad story. The new president Barak Obama is now aware of the story. Someone in this world surely has more power than this so called family law lawyer and what he is doing is simply wrong. Sean will one day hate him, once he finds out the truth. As someone on this site mentions, I wonder if he even speaks English anymore and did he forget his real father. I cannot even imagine what lies these people are telling him each day and now he has no mother or father.


Jeannine Jones Mosier January 18, 2009 at 6:01 pm

When I went through my divorce,I saw how twisted the court system is.This is just beyond comprehension.It makes you not very proud of your country.I hope the media can help David get his son back and get justice against Brazil.It makes me never want to allow my children to leave the country without me.I can’t imagine my kids being taken away from me.I am even more disgusted at the fact that the mother is dead and they are still keeping Sean from his real FATHER!Dave is a wonderful man that deserves to raise his biological son.Come on AMERICA,bring his son HOME!


Dana December 8, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Please visit bringseanhome.org for updates. David needs help and support more than ever right now. There will be a rally in NYC on friday, Dec 12th. Come show your outrage and support. Visit the blog on the website for all of the details.


Sonya October 6, 2008 at 4:03 pm

Go to the web site. There is a list of people and contacts that you can write to- We need to get this boy back with his father. The more you read, the more scary it gets. Bruna’s best friend in Brazil was a soap star who also had her own variety show. We have been bombarding her as well. There are many things that we are trying to do to bring this boy home. Anyone with children -please help. Go to the web site – go to the blog section read the comments and the how to help. please.


JimAKASydney&Hunter'sDad September 27, 2008 at 9:28 pm


I agree with Christy, you should hire a band of Israeli commandos/mercenaries to take your boy back from the people who stole him from you (not that the average person could even afford to do this). You have probably discounted such extreme measures due to the risk. Although you have no idea, I would have to assume that Sean is well cared for, and perhaps even loved, by his step father and his well to do and well connected family… not that this is any consolation.

MC, I can only assume that you are married to a Columbian dude. I feel for you living in fear that your husband could do the same and take your children from you to a lawless land ruled by corrupt politicians, police and war/drug lords.


Margie September 27, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Amazing what people will do to assuage their own anger or frustration. So sad for both father and son. Shame on Brazil for not taking a stronger stance on this, and returning Sean to his father.

Margie’s last blog post…Don’t Misses 9-26-08


mc September 27, 2008 at 10:27 am

This is absolutely terrifying.

It’s not supposed to happen–that’s why Brazil is a signatory to the child kidnapping treaty!

But many of the countries who have signed this treaty do not have the will or the court system to enforce it.

This treaty has therefore been used primarily to force parents to let their estranged co-parents take their children to foreign countries, never to return.

I’ve thought about this situation a lot, since my ex is from a country in S America. And kind of an arrogant SOB, sorry to say. His country has signed the treaty, but it is a very large and fairly unlawful country. For example, bribing government officials, and passing $ to the local crime bosses, are just the way you live there. Currently, kidnapping of foreigners and holding them for ransom is also common.

So if my ex decided to take the children there and “disappear” it would be very easy for him to do so.

Unfortunately, the family courts in the US are clueless. They think that if the other country signed the treaty, that’s total protection against child kidnapping. My lawyer said that because of this I would not be able to prevent my ex from taking the children there for a “visit. Although he can’t leave the country with our children without my explicit written permission, if I withhold it he could take me to court and win permission for a “visit” because the court would rule I was being “unreasonable” to deny the children a chance to visit their family. So I’m stuck.

Fortunately, my kids are getting old enough where they can do something to prevent it (I hope?) if their father decides to do this. Also, he has a good job currently in the US, so that’s (hopefully?) further insurance against his doing anything crazy. But I worry like crazy whenever he takes the kids there.

The US gov needs to take a much more active stance in these cases, to enforce adherence to the treaty.


Judy September 27, 2008 at 7:25 am

Oh, what a heartbreaking story. I hope David is able to bring his son home soon.

Judy’s last blog post…learning about death


christy September 26, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Rachel, thank you for talking about this. I am reading about it all now from msnbc and David’s blog.

christy’s last blog post…Great bonuses in addition to making extra money !


christy September 26, 2008 at 6:26 pm

I have not heard about this !! How tragic !!

I agree- certainly there were signs if she was unhappy- BUT I wonder if once she got to Brazil, her family forced her. Maybe they were not happy with the fact that she was living in America. Sure, she could have told her husband this on a phone call from Brazil, but we have heard this before- people getting sabotaged by their family. They could have forced her to sign divorce papers.

I have not read David’s blog- but I plan to. Since there is no apparent laws, would he be in trouble if he kidnapped his son back and brought him into the USA? Seems like he would not be in trouble- if he could make it here. I think I have seen some true stories about parents who have gone to other countries with people who specialize in this, and take them back.

How does a non-biological parent get to keep a child that is not their own kid? This poor child has probably been told that his bio father is dead or does not want him. He probably has been brainwashed by both his mother (up until her death), her parents and his step-father and his family. BLOWS my mind that this can happen !!!!


dadshouse September 26, 2008 at 12:23 pm

That’s really sad and messed up! First of all, how could this woman take their son away from her dad like that? Especially now that she has passed, the boy should clearly be with his dad. What is Brazil thinking? What is the step-dad thinking?

Who knows what this woman told family and friends in Brazil. The step-dad might feel he is protecting the boy from something. I know that adopting parents sometimes don’t want the child to meet the biological parent for fear of losing them. But David seems like a nice guy. This whole thing just doesn’t make sense. My heart goes out to him.

dadshouse’s last blog post…Dating Sexy Single Moms Gets Sirius


JimAKASydney&Hunter'sDad September 26, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Your story is tragic beyond belief and truly surreal. I feel for you. There are probably women reading your story thinking… it serves you right for marrying a hot Brazilian chick. But I am here to tell you that the same thing could have happened to you if you married an ordinary American Jewish girl. Be aware that virtually the same thing happens to parents in our very own country all the time and with the blessings of our divorce courts! Surely the Brazilian legal system is more corrupt than our own, but our legal system is deeply flawed, and extraordinarily inefficient, and allows this sort of thing to happen all the time based primarily on trumped up lies and by the desire of an angry, irrational, and deranged spouse to inflict retribution on their former, or soon to be, former spouse by using their children as pawns in order to get a little revenge or whatever… what these f-ing morons forget is that they do so at the expense of their children’s overall wellbeing, not to mention the emotional and financial toll this takes on both parents. And to make matters worse there are scores of predatory divorce lawyers more than willing to fan this fire and to fight this fight (for a mere $300/hour) for the sole purpose of destroying families and funding their country club memberships! Is it any wonder that this great nation of ours is going into the crapper? I live next door to the most delightful single mom who loves her children more than anything in this world. Her X-husband essentially kidnapped them, so far with the blessings of our county court, in the middle of June and she has not seen them since. This nearly sent her off the deep end… which is completely understandable! I dated a single mom who was already off the deep end, for a very short time this summer, whose estranged husband kidnapped their baby, had her arrested and put a restraining order against her (she didn’t see her 1 year old baby for nearly 4 months) to teach her a lesson!! I think she reconciled and got back together with this lunatic! I ran into one of my daughter’s friend’s dad yesterday who is going through a divorce and he thought that selling divorce insurance to newly married couples would be both a good and prudent decision for the couple and a very lucrative business! Perhaps the divorce lawyers writing pre-nups could sell this insurance to us to tap this market just a little deeper! The universe works in very strange ways… and although this may sound barbaric, perhaps Bruna got what was coming to her. Surely this same Universal energy will one day reunite you with Sean. I pray for his wellbeing and his speedy return to you and I applaud you for not giving up!


Katherine (SOLO dot MOM) September 26, 2008 at 8:52 am

This is a heart wrenching story. It does baffle me that something like this can happen and the parent have no control over the happenings with their own blood kin. My prayers are going up that they can get this resolved. The boy needs to be with his natural father.


T September 26, 2008 at 8:32 am

Oh my goodness. That is so sad… I never watch TV so I have no idea what is happening. The world is so crazy anymore.

We will definitely keep David and Sean in our prayers. I can’t even imagine the torment of this father. Ugh, it makes my heart hurt.

T’s last blog post…What the hell was I thinking?


singlemomseeking September 26, 2008 at 8:04 am

Last night, I stayed up way too late reading all the comments on David’s blog — and thinking about this little boy. I wonder if he even speaks English anymore… or remembers his father?

I’m sending warmth out to little Sean that he’s safe.


The Exception September 26, 2008 at 7:32 am

It leaves me wondering just how much of the story has yet to be told. I can’t imagine leaving my daughter or being away from her just as I can’t imagine keeping her dad from her.

The Exception’s last blog post…KMAB Classes Begin


Laura September 26, 2008 at 1:22 am

What a terrible sad sad story ;(

That has to be the worst thing to go through!

My heart breaks for him!!!

Laura’s last blog post…Are you saving enough?


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