David Goldman: “I will not do to you what you have done to me”

by singlemomseeking on January 11, 2010

When I first wrote about David Goldman in 2008, his story was just beginning to gain more publicity in mainstream news.

David is the New Jersey former model who’d married a Brazilian fashion student — Bruna Bianchi — in 1999. They had a son together, Sean, and they seemed to have a solid marriage. But in 2004, Bruna boarded a plane to Brazil go on a two-week vacation with their then four-year-old son.

And she never came back.

David Goldman Sean

Instead, she called David and told him their marriage was over. She said that she wouldn’t return to the U.S. — and that she was keeping Sean.

In the meantime, Bruna re-married a Brazilian lawyer from a prominent and politically well-connected family in that country. Then, in childbirth in 2008 with her second child, she died.

In the meantime, David fought to get his son back. Some of you applauded David on this blog. But others said that after so much time, it would be best if Sean remained in Brazil and got to visit his father.

Over and over, Brazilian courts ruled that Sean should stay in Brazil. For the past five+ years, David has tried to get his son back. Politicians stepped in to help, from President Obama to Congressman Smith of New Jersey.

If you’ve watched the news, some of the clips are heartbreaking: to see David almost get permission to see his son — and then hear the courts say “no.”

But everything changed on Dec. 24, 2009. The public — both Americans and Brazilians — had continued to put pressure on Brazil, and David got permission to take nine-year-old Sean home.

As Sean said good-bye to his maternal grandmother at the U.S. Embassy in Brazil, she asked David: “Will you allow me to see him?”

According to MSNBC.com,Despite his resentment of the way Sean’s Brazilian family behaved during the five years of legal battling, Goldman said he will allow Sean’s maternal grandmother, Silvana Bianchi, to continue to see him.”

“And I looked at her and I said, ‘I will not do to you what you have done to me,’ ” Goldman said.

“And then I said, ‘But now you need to tell him that you remember how good of a father that I was, how good of a father that I am, and how you know I will continue to be a good father.’ And I also gave her a hug. He needed to see that.”

~~~

David’s intentions are incredibly empathetic. Don’t you agree? “I will not do to you what you have done to me.”

Still, I’m curious: What would you do if you were in David’s shoes?

Would you stay in touch with your ex’s family and fly your child back to visit at least once a year?

Or, would you simply shut the door to the past and move on?


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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicki January 11, 2010 at 4:50 am

He did the right thing. As challenging as it was, he truly is a great father since he was able to put the needs of his child above his own. Even more, he is being the quintessential bigger man. Kudos!
.-= Nicki´s last blog ..I’m cursed… =-.

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SDMktg January 11, 2010 at 8:21 am

It’s hard to say exactly what I’d do if that were my situation but I think allowing the family to see his son is the right thing to do. If I were him though I’d never set foot in Brazil again and I certainly wouldn’t let my son travel there either. I’d be sure we only traveled to places that actually adhere to the Hague Convention.
.-= SDMktg´s last blog ..Tailgating Takedown with the Commish – Tonight on TLC! =-.

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won January 11, 2010 at 8:27 am

Unequivocally, I would never step foot in that country again nor allow my son to, if I were David Goldman.

If my son asked to see his grandmother, it would be in my hometown under my supervision…much like was done to him. My motivation however would not be a tit for a tat. It would simply be to protect my son.

David Goldman has far too much of himself invested to do otherwise at this point in my opinion. And Sean has far too much to lose.
.-= won´s last blog ..Career Women Make Bad Mothers? =-.

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mykidsmomx4 January 11, 2010 at 8:50 am

I would allow them to come to America to visit, but until the boy is old enough (18, 21, whatever) to go on his own and come back on his own, I wouldn’t allow him to go for a visit.

Yes, I would allow all of them to see him. Maybe via skype once a week and communicate through email and such as long as they know that it is all being read through/watched by me.

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dmmm January 11, 2010 at 9:33 am

As a father of 3 children including a 9 year-old son, I would have shut the wicked grandmother and sleazy stepfather out of my life. But after I read what David said to Silvia, it made me realize that what he did was admirable and remarkable after all he had gone through in the past 5 years. I think he wanted to instill moral and family value into his son and also show him what kind of father David is. That way in the long run Sean will realize that his father did the right thing and his grandmother and stepfather were ethically and morally wrong. Still I am astonished to learn that Sean’s grandmother is fighting to get Sean back. So pathetic!

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Honey January 11, 2010 at 9:34 am

One of my closest friends had a child with someone who was I think Argentinian, and lots of his family is Italian. Within a year of her daughter’s birth she had the father deported (for a lot of personal reasons that are quite complicated, and he *was* in the country illegally). He’s never allowed to enter the country again.

She allows her daughter to talk to him on the phone, but she’s not allowed to travel internationally until she’s 18. Many of his family lives in the U.S., and she lets them visit her daughter, but only under supervised conditions. My friend’s reasoning makes sense to me…
.-= Honey´s last blog ..Watch the Hotel Chevalier Short Film NOW =-.

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Cat804 January 11, 2010 at 10:14 am

I agree with WON. My ex’s family has demonstrated that they can’t be trusted, so when they see him, it’s with me, at least until he’s old enough to tell me what they did, who he saw, and call me if he needs me. The main reason for this is that my ex is violent and unstable, and is only allowed to see my son supervised by a social worker- and given how untruthful his family has been with me in the past and their feelings on the subject, I think they might let him take my son, or see him under unsafe circumstances.

But I think the attitude can’t be overlooked- my son will never see me disrespect or be rude to them. He will never hear me talk bad about them. I’ll hug them hello and goodbye when we see them. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by making him feel bad about his paternal half.

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BigLittleWolf January 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

Even when you are on the receiving end of the most cruel and treacherous behavior, the old adage “two wrongs don’t make a right” still applies. Not everyone believes us, which is what keeps some of us on the so-called losing side in certain battles. But there is integrity in standing by your values. And in this case – far more. He is honorably doing what is right for his son.
.-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..Pregnant pause after “Mr. Good Enough” =-.

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Robynbeth January 11, 2010 at 10:46 am

I have watched this case for several months now, and it was a blessing to see the child reunited with his father. I hope and pray he will now develop a loving and secure relationship with his father, and the nightmare is truly over. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain suffered by David Goldman. I also admire his ability to see the big picture and try to do what his best by his son. I don’t know if I could do the same. In fact, my children are not allowed to certain family members due to their constant displays of dysfunction. Without trust, there is nothing.
.-= Robynbeth´s last blog ..Starting Six Word Saturday Again: I have missed it. =-.

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MC January 11, 2010 at 11:28 am

This whole situation is so sad for Sean. There’s no way he won’t be traumatized by going away from his family who have raised him so long. His Dad is awesome for overcoming his feelings about the family so Sean can benefit from seeing them. I think the Brazilian family should be prosecuted for child abuse.

I don’t think I could be that generous, myself. My ex is Argentinian and I am terrified every time he takes our kids to visit Argentina. Because South America is not like the US–the government and police are largely ineffectual and corrupt, and organized crime is very strong in these areas and the kidnapping of tourists is common.

The Hague convention means nothing if the government of a foreign nation can’t control events in their own country, you know?

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Elissa January 11, 2010 at 11:35 am

Although it’s on a much larger scale obviously due to the length of time they were kept apart I think this bears many similarities to most divorces. We have a choice to speak well of the other parent and be supportive or find reasons to exclude them and speak ill of them. This is a tough decision many of us face every day. David did the right thing under very intense circumstances.
I believe his reasons for choosing to be respectful to her in spite of her actions are probably quite similar to the reasons I have for never speaking ill of my ex in the presense of my children. (Which is also the reason I sought so hard to let go of any resentments I felt toward him, because my energy is evident even when I think I’m hiding it.) The fact is that my ex is a part of my children, like David’s childs maternal grandmother is a part of David’s child. To make a child feel as if part of their DNA is “bad” creates a deep and abiding wound that can create long lasting issues in their spirit.
My ex is many things, few of which are good, but I protect my children as much as possible from his negative traits and highlight his few good ones. I shelter them from his poor choices and remind them over and over again that he loves them, even if he doesn’t know how to show it the way they would like him to. He does the best he knows how to do. If he knew better he would do better. I teach them that rare is the person in this world who sets about to intentionally hurt them. So to be forgiving because you will hurt others out of your ignorance and you will want them to extend that same forgiveness to you.

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Michele January 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I can be pretty vindictive.

But …

If the maternal grandmother wanted to come to the US to visit her grandson, then she would be more than welcome. Neither I nor my son would be making any trips to Brazil.
.-= Michele´s last blog ..Whitner’s Barbecue =-.

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itneverrainsinseattle January 11, 2010 at 1:44 pm

I think every situation is different, but also, timing is important to. How much you have worked out as a person by the time you are given the opportunities to choose and to act.

Were I in a similar situation… who knows? I admire David Goldman’s approach, and he is definitely a very big man to take this very important moral high ground. Would I? Could I? I’d like to think so. In the past, when I’ve had to respond to a crisis situation and its aftermath, I believe I’ve handled it well.

But we never really know until we face that situation ourselves. And just because we handle a situation one way on one occasion doesn’t mean we’ll the do same thing on the next occasion, because we, ourselves, are different people at different points in time.

I admire David Goldman’s fortitude, I am very glad he has finally been reunited with his son, and I can only hope that when faced with a difficult situation, I will face it with all the grace and determination I can.
.-= itneverrainsinseattle´s last blog ..It takes a village =-.

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Erin January 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I would do the same as David! I did something similar in my divorce, and my ex-spouse has come out on the other side of it all a better man as a result, and both of our families co-exist peacefully. My ex-inlaws see the kids multiple times per week, sometimes every day, and we are both happily moved on (my ex cheated and got another woman pregnant when my twins were three months old, and our oldest son was not even two).

I praise him for his boldness in doing the right thing!

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Anna January 11, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Because the boy’s mother is deceased, David did the right thing. If she were still living, I would say that it would be her responsibility to encourage visitation and a relationship with her parents. I agree with other posters in that I would never step foot in Brazil again, nor would I let my son, until he was of age.

My ex and his parents live in another state (he moved back there after the divorce). I think his parents are sad because they really don’t see or talk to my son that much, but I refuse to make that my responsibility. I would never refuse them visitation or phone calls (within reason), but they haven’t ever tried, either.

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First Date January 12, 2010 at 1:55 am

David is really a good man. As I am reading the whole story, I got teary eyed. how I wish I could have a father like him who stand by me. The words “I will not do to you what you have done to me” is a very noble word. A statement of a very good hearted man. I salute David! Sean, you have a good father you should be proud of.

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Roberta Holliday January 12, 2010 at 7:16 am

There is no question that he is doing the “right” thing, I don’t think that I would be able to do things as well. First of all…I would not take Sean back to Brazil, just on the off chance that I had a hard time bringing him back. Second of all, If the Brazilian family wanted to visit with him, it would be under my own, personal, supervision. I give David a lot of credit for being able to handle this so well, but an old phrase comes to mind if he does allow Sean to “visit” Brazil “Fool me once, shame on you………”
David, I wish you and Sean nothing but the best. I hope you and Sean can move on with your lives together and never forget what you mean to each other :-)

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Danielle January 12, 2010 at 11:25 am

Gosh, that would be so hard and I would worry that they would try something else and would never see my child again. But for the sake of your child that only knows them and they obviously love him, I would have to let them see him.
.-= Danielle´s last blog ..*Notice* Wine and hair color don’t mix and cost me too much money! =-.

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Sarcastica January 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

I think he handled it very well, if I were in his situation, I would have had A LOT more choice words to deliver to that grandmother. In the end, it has to be about what’s best for Sean…and still being able to see his family from Brazil is what’s best, because it’s all he knows. His father is amazing, for being able to stay so strong yet so mature about the whole thing.

I’m glad Sean is home.
.-= Sarcastica´s last blog ..This Routine =-.

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Jack January 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

I think it is fine to let her family come to the US,. but he is asking for trouble if he goes there.
.-= Jack´s last blog ..Hump Day Round Up =-.

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Kat Wilder January 14, 2010 at 12:15 am

After all that’s happened to him, David is proving himself to be a man who is truly putting his kid first. Who couldn’t applaud that?

He is putting his own resentments (if he has any) and feelings aside so that his child can have a relationship with his grandmother.

The character of a man (or woman) appears when we’re put in a situation in which we may not want to do something but we do it anyway, because it’s the right thing. David is teaching his son — and a lot of other people — how to be a person of character. Kudos to him!
.-= Kat Wilder´s last blog ..Forget sex, let’s cuddle =-.

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QTMama January 20, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I have to agree that going to Brazil again with his son is a very unwise idea. However, I applaud him for this fabulous maturity in a time where you just want to give that lady the middle finger.

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Jami February 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm

In response to this story, I applaud the father, however, sometimes making it so easy on the opposing family is not all it’s cracked up to be. I know from experience. My daughter was conceived through spousal rape by my ex. He never wanted her and has never had anything to do with her. His family though (his parents, sister and brother) wanted to be in her life. I never once took out my anger on him with his family. I allowed them to see her, write her, visit her, spend holidays with her, etc. Well, here is where the problem lay…I was the one making the effort. They would never come see her. They always wanted me to take her to them, eventhough they lived only 20 mins. away, worked only 10 mins. away, and had another grandchild who they saw and got every weekend who lived 25 mins. away. They never came to get her or came to visit her. They always made it my effort to get her to where they wanted her. Well, I did that, as a goodwill gesture towards my daughter, for 3 yrs., then I moved out of state. You would think that moving out of state would have made them pick up the pace. I rented a p.o. box for her all year long for 3 yrs. straight so that her grandparents would have an address to send her stuff and keep in touch with her without disclosing our physical location since my ex was and still is crazy (Literally!). Well, out of 3 yrs. worth of renting a p.o. box, they sent her maybe a handful of cards and maybe 2 or 3 presents. Her grandpa died just a few months after we saw him for the first time in 2 yrs. We didn’t even know he was sick til a few weeks before he died. My daughter never really knew him because she was a toddler when we left. Her grandma has only emailed me maybe 4 times since Oct. when her grandpa died…it’s now February. I have not heard from her since then. She does not send our daughter letters, cards, gifts, or anything. It saddens me, but at the same time, my daughter doesn’t seem affected by it because she really doesn’t know her grandma.
If I were the father, I’d allow contact but I’d make it the grandmother’s responsibility to figure out how she wanted to maintain contact. Making it easy for her is only going to make things harder in the long run.

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