David Goldman to be reunited with son

by singlemomseeking on June 2, 2009


Thank you to Barbara Thompson for the latest update on David Goldman: The Brazilian Supreme Court ruled in his favor, and Sean will be coming home!


Last week: This morning, on David’s site, Bring Sean Home, one of the moderators has confirmed that Brazil has appealed the court’s decision to return Sean to his father. The New York Times, reported on Tuesday evening that Brazil will not let Sean go home. The Times also quoted Bernard Aronson, a former United States assistant secretary of state for Latin America who is advising David Goldman.

“Brazil needs to define itself as either a nation of laws or a nation that harbors and protects child abductors,…”

U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith (R) of New Jersey is one of many politicians — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who is urging Congress to bring Sean back to the U.S. Stay tuned….


When I first wrote about David Goldman — the New Jersey father whose wife abducted their son — almost one year ago on my blog, not many people had heard of him.

I hadn’t — and I was a bit skeptical at first. But like thousands of people around the world, I got quickly drawn in:

Exactly five years ago, David Goldman’s then-wife, Bruna, planned to take their son, Sean, to Brazil to visit her family. She boarded a plane in Newark, NJ — and never came back.

In the meantime, Bruna remarried and then tragically died in childbirth. After her death, her second husband petitioned a Brazilian court to take David Goldman’s name off Sean’s birth certificate.

An international custody battle ensued, and David has been battling to get his son back. (Even President Obama raised the custody issue with the Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during a private meeting.)

It’s one of those stories that breaks your heart. During the past five years, the Brazilian government has only let David see his Sean once, for a total of six hours.

This week, however, a Brazilian court has agreed to return Sean — who is now nine — to his father.

Thanks to an outpouring of support from media and parents — more than 40,000 people on Facebook signed on to support him — David will be reunited with Sean on Wednesday, June 3rd at the U.S. Consulate in Rio De Janeiro.

David site has announced “Victory!” Already, however, some news sites have reported that Brazil might appeal the ruling.

Let’s hope not. Of course, Sean will need lots of support and counseling back in the United States. No doubt, his primary language now is Portuguese. And he’s leaving his little sister, step-father, and other family members behind.

Do you have any advice for David to make this transition as smooth as possible for his son?

I’m sure that he’d appreciate any words of wisdom from you.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

MJT January 19, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I have seen a father reunited with a daughter when the daughter was a teenager, and while the child is from another culture, they have been taught values that you may or may not agree with, it can all be worked out with time. David and Sean will have to talk a lot out, but with some work, and time I do beleive that Sean will be fine. What wonderful timing to be able to bring his son home at Christmas time. Best advice..hmmm… don’t introduce a new girl friend for awhile, you have a good thing right now focus on that, and take care of the boy and raise him well. Best wishes, and may this be the begining of the best years of your lives!


Jeanne M Hannah July 3, 2009 at 7:31 am

This international parental kidnapping has been playing out for five years, with Brazil refusing to return Sean Goldman, abducted by his mother in 2004 to the U.S. Sean’s mother died nearly a year ago, and still Sean has not been returned to the U.S. despite the fact that even Brazil has a law that says custody automatically reverts to the surviving parent.

Today there are more than 60 children who have been abducted to Brazil, yet to be returned. Brazil has been tagged in a Department of State Office of Children’s Issues document, “April 2009 Report on Compliance with Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Abduction Convention,” as “demonstrating patterns of non-compliance.” http://tinyurl.com/m6olqj

Other countries similarly identified are Bulgaria, Chile, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Mexico (the worst), Poland and Venezuela. Honduras is non-compliant.

Brazil is in the No 2 spot of offender and has never, ever returned a child.

Summaries of Judge Pinto’s decisions and commentary may be found here. http://tinyurl.com/mjz2c5


Chris June 6, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Hi David,
What a hard situation to judge.
I am not here to tell you who is right or who is wrong. I am really worried about Sean situation and happiness.You need some Brazilian friend to help you with the culture,habits, food and etc. Sean is living in Brazil for all this years and you have to do the best to make your son to feel home,happy and confident. Be my guest! I am from Rio de Janeiro and I live in Colorado since 1998. I will be happy to help you or guide you with whatever you need.
I am a mother and a grandma too, and I wish the best for you, your son, and all his families!
Chris Campbell


Kari June 6, 2009 at 4:56 am

I really hope David gets his son back and they can work on their relationship.

Honey I have to totally disagree with most of the things you are posting, the fact of the matter is if Brazil had done the right thing in the begining we wouldn’t be here discussing this today. This isn’t a fight that started just after his mother’s death.

A vast majority of children are better off with their biological parent. A parent or step parent who alienates a child from another parent IS abusive and therefore not the right person for caring for a child. Alienation is child abuse plan and simple. Depriving a child of the love from a parent and allowing them to love that parent as well is abusive. Sorry, but this is dear to my heart and I think more people need to understand this aspect Alienation is no better than emotional abuse of a child. Child abusers should not have custody.

Kari´s last blog post…Taking a break


Honey June 4, 2009 at 5:03 pm

@ Eathan – it could very well be that this child (or yours) would be better off with biological parents…however, “a child is always better off with his/her birth parents” is hardly universally true, and may not even be true in the majority of cases. It’s that unquestioned universality I question, not the specifics of this case.

Honey´s last blog post…What Flattery Will Get You


Tracy June 4, 2009 at 9:10 am

This is truly a sad story. The biggest victim here is Sean. Either way, Sean loses. I think his place is with his father and have a lot of sympathy for the father. I truly hope that something can be worked out so that David can bring Sean home, but that he have visitation with his family in Brazil. No matter the circumstance, he still has grandparents and a baby sister in Brazil. Even though I don’t agree with the step-father of Sean, it is apparent to me that he loves Sean very much too. I pray that a solution can be reached soon for this little boy’s sake.


Eathan June 3, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I’m happy that he finally has the courts ruling in his favor. It’s been a long time coming. Hopefully the Brazilian government will do something to punish the illegal activities of the step father.

@honey I don’t care how long I’ve been away from my child.. as the birth parent.. it’s better than for my child to be with me over any step parent.

Eathan´s last blog post…Multiracial Americans


ann June 3, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Question for step-father…What if it was his son that was being kept from him what would he do?


judy June 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

yes bio dad has rights to his son if he is the dad we want him to be

yes step family has rights if they are the family we want them to be

Is there a win-win? supervised visitations…web cam great idea…

I would kill to get my DD back

Be patient..listen..don’t judge..get him with kids his age..be consistent..research the culture/country he is coming from and do some of that cooking/music

Dad will need counseling for times like when his son express anger toward him

Turn off the media and just be together


Sarah June 3, 2009 at 9:42 am

Since I divorced my boys dad this has always been my worst fear. Him taking them to where he was was born and never seeing them again. That being said, this story has been near and dear to my heart. After reading todays events it does not look like Sean will be reunited with David today. It truly breaks my heart for David. My advice to him when he does get Sean back is to take one day at a time and snuggle and read to him. Cherish every moment! My last piece of advice will be hard but he will be the bigger person – Do NOT talk bad about his mom or step dad in front of him. I try very hard to be honest with my boys but choose my words very carefully! I hope he comes home soon!


singlemomseeking June 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

@Sarah, yes, I think this is why this story has touched so many of us close to our hearts: because it highlights such a dark fear for many single parents.

I love your advice: that David will step up and be the “bigger person” when Sean comes home, meaning he will “NOT talk bad about his mom or step dad in front of him.”


Honey June 3, 2009 at 8:21 am

I just think that if he was that young when taken and (presumably) has experienced a stable and loving home in the interim, it is JUST as cruel for the biological father to uproot him as it was for him to be kidnapped in the first place…perhaps more so because now he’s old enough to remember his life in Brazil and to blame his biological father for obliterating that.

I think it’s just pride and selfishness that makes people believe that he’s better off with “biological” parents. But I’ve never heard of this case, either, and don’t know enough about his home life in the US or in Brazil to make a definitive judgment.

Honey´s last blog post…What Flattery Will Get You


Susan June 3, 2009 at 8:06 am

A Brazilian judge suspended an order granting David Goldman custody of his son, the New Jersey man vowed to keep fighting for boy’s return….unfortunately, it will go on even longer..


won June 3, 2009 at 7:42 am


won´s last blog post…David Goldman’s Parental Alienation


MommaSunshine June 3, 2009 at 3:43 am

Gosh, what a heartbreaking situation. This is going to be so difficult for both families involved. My heart goes out to all of them.

MommaSunshine´s last blog post…Goodness All Around Me


MC June 3, 2009 at 3:36 am

Horrifying story, and possibly still not over for this parent and child although I hope so.

It is appalling that, due to cultural differences and nationalistic ideas, some countries still refuse to recognize parental abductions of children to foreign countries as a crime. Japan, for example, still refuses to sign the Hague treaty (which outlaws parental abductions and promises return of the child and recognition of custody laws).

Custody laws in the US are not even close to perfect either. This is an area where outmoded cultural biases all too often overrule actual facts. I cannot believe how many children are sent time and time again to live with their drug-addicted and criminal parents, for example.


Wondermom June 2, 2009 at 10:58 pm

I understand that it will be a tough transition for Sean to leave his Brazilian family and move back to the US at this point, but I don’t think that’s the same as saying it’s in his best interest to stay with the status quo.

The thing that I don’t understand is the clause in the Hague treaty that says that they don’t have to return the child if he is already settled in his new environment. Basically, that’s like saying it’s ok to kidnap a child as long as you can get away with it for a little while until the child gets settled.

Alicia – I don’t think this is the same as a situation where there is a mixup at the hospital because in that case, no one did anything malicious…it’s just a very unfortunate accident. This woman KIDNAPPED this child, and was essentially rewarded for it for the last four years and her family continues to be rewarded for it while her ex-husband, a VICTIM, is punished. It would be different even if she had alleged abuse or said that she felt like she had to run to get away from her husband or something but I’ve never heard anything like that…she just up and left for no reason. The really crazy thing is, if she had divorced him in NJ, there’s a very good chance that she would have gotten primary custody and a reasonable chance that she could have persuaded a judge to allow her to take Sean to Brazil and just give her ex-husband limited visitation. She didn’t do that though…

Wondermom´s last blog post…Not enough tequila in Mexico


Wondermom June 2, 2009 at 10:45 pm
Alicia June 2, 2009 at 10:25 pm

I imagine this dilemma is similar to cases where the hospital calls to say there was a mix-up at birth – 10 years after the fact! Or adoptions gone wrong where the birth parent wants custody after years away. What is the proper course of action? Uproot the child from their familiar everyday world to return them to their biological parents? Allow the child to remain where he is – and let the birth parent suffer? I just do not know….

I know that David has been fighting tooth and nail for his son’s return for years.

I hope and pray that Sean is able to recall many memories of his father David and the awesome relationship they once had – that will surely help. Though I fear time may have erased most of these…

I’m sure Sean has managed to adapt to his life in Brazil in these years, and uprooting him now may prove to be yet another devastation for him to endure (he lost his dad years ago, then he lost his mom, now he faces loosing his step-dad).

My heart goes out to Sean and David – its just a sad situation all around: its sad Sean’s mom alienated him from David, its sad that she then died and sad that the step-dad refused to do the only conscience-able thing (return Sean to David). But regardless, the facts remain that Sean and Davis WILL be reunited and now they have to figure out how to cope.

This is definitely a job for the professional therapists, and they’re both in my prayers.

Alicia´s last blog post…Daddy Dilemma – Part Deux


lovebabz June 2, 2009 at 7:49 pm

Love is restorative and affirming and divine.

Although all this mess seems confusing and taxing to the spirit and soul. A parent’s love for his child cannot be superceded in a court of law.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Well God is not asking this Father to give up his son. It seems to me that God is saying…FIGHT!

I could not rest knowing that any child of mine was somehwere in the world and I am not apart of his/her life. Perhaps that is why I have adopted 4 children…so that they know that someone is for them. In this case this child’s father is FOR HIM!

Love is restorative…healing…affirming…and forgiving.

I am holding this father and son in my prayers so that they may know that GOd has not forsaken them. And that someday this divine child will know and understand that his father did not abandon him…did not give up on him. That his father’s love is unyielding and uncompromised and yes, DIVINE!

lovebabz´s last blog post…TRUE LOVE TUESDAY: SO FAR


singlemomseeking June 2, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Wow, Babz, I love your spirit. Thank you for this.


Chris December 30, 2009 at 12:35 am

love your comment. so filled with wisdom. thanks.


expatsinglemama June 2, 2009 at 6:33 pm

I’ve been following this case since 2007, when I was living in Sao Paulo. I hope and pray that the reunification occurs as smoothly as possible, but most of all, I am happy to see rule of law prevail and I have faith in the legal system that Sean’s best interest will absolutely be kept in mind throughout the process (of course with the media serving as a watchdog). The U.S. Foreign Service Officers throughout Mission Brazil, the folks at the State Department, and many other government employees have spent many many many long hours on this case. Hats off to them for their hard work and dedication.

expatsinglemama´s last blog post…Unfurnished means no stove?


Legal Editor Mom June 2, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Although we may never know, I’m curious as to what possessed this mom to do this in the first place. Even if they weren’t getting along, were separated, or whatever, he is the child’s father, and (likely) did not deserve this treatment. And the stepfather shouldn’t have condoned the lack of communication; either, even if he loved the mom and the boy and wanted them to remain a family. He is the boy’s natural father, afterall.

That said, the son may need counseling to deal with the separation from the family that he truly knew in Brazil, and it’s going to take a lot of patience and perserverance to make him feel safe and comfortable in his new environment. Still, kudos to this dad for fighting to get his son back, and for not giving up. I truly hope it works out for them.


Trish June 2, 2009 at 5:11 pm

One word: webcam


singlemomseeking June 2, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Right on Trish! Skyping with a Webcam would be the best idea.

@LEM: This is why I was skeptical at first, too. I wondered: Why did his now-deceased wife take off for Brazil — and not come back? But as someone who has experienced abandonment, I know that sometimes, you may never get an answer.

Honey: I imagine the culture shock will be very intense. Sean has not been with his father since he was four years old. But as all the parents are acknowledging here, it was unfathomably cruel for his step-father to keep Sean from his biological father.


s.muller June 2, 2009 at 5:05 pm

to those who say”i thnk it would be better for sean to remain in Brazil” i would love to know why you think that…is it because they are very wealthy..and they can buy sean a beautiful life…true love is worth millions, is it because he would have to leave his fake new family..that keeps him there, filling his head with lies…he was KIDNAPPED by his mother who died….he needs his father and his father needs him…end of story


Chris December 30, 2009 at 12:32 am

S. Muller, thank you for your comment. I agree with you 100 percent. . The Brazilian famiy cannot have Sean. It’s wrong and it’s a crime to keep Sean. Sean belongs to his real family. Truth hurts but like always truth always prevail, and truth will set them free. We must obey what is right, not just what feels good.


melissa June 2, 2009 at 4:49 pm

such a catch-22 type situation.
that poor kid.

melissa´s last blog post…Sharing A Room


Allison June 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Honey, I can’t agree…if that were me, I would do anything I could to be reunited with my child. However, I think if David can keep in touch somehow with the stepfather and stepfamily, that would probably be best for Sean; but given that David wasn’t allowed to see his son for years, that’s gonna take a very big and forgiving heart. And a lot of agreed-upon conditions.


Sheila June 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I remember this story and I’m so glad to hear the outcome. My best wishes to father and son.


Honey June 2, 2009 at 2:54 pm

After that long, I cannot help but think it would have been better for Sean to remain in Brazil.


jackie pepper December 24, 2009 at 6:11 am

Although i believe your comment has some basis in reality (poor Sean), the fact is, if this child hadn’t been denied HIS right to be with his father on a regular basis this would be a non-issue. As with the Jaycee Dugard case in here in the US, would we suggest that she stay with the Garridos just because that is “the only family she knows” now? I don’t think we should justify that question.
Although Jaycee, Sean, and other abducted children have been unfortunately damaged, in this case, Sean BELONGS with his father. He should be allowed to visit his Brazilian family as will undoubtedly need to occur with supervision AND in the US, he belongs with the parent who LOVES him and deserves to RAISE him,
Congratulations to both David and Sean. I hope their journey becomes less turbulent in future.


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