Tinton Falls Dad David Goldman Fighting For Parents Of Abducted Children

RED BANK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sixteen months after 9-year-old Sean Goldman was led through a crush of journalists and onlookers on a Rio de Janeiro street to be handed over to his father — completing a five-year ordeal that sparked tension in U.S.-Brazil diplomacy — he has a new life as a fifth-grader and youth baseball player in New Jersey.

And his father, a former model and current fishing boat charter captain and real estate agent, has moved from fighting in Brazil’s courts for his son’s return to becoming a prominent advocate for the greater international cause: trying to get children abducted to another country by one parent reunited with the parent left behind.

David Goldman’s memoir about the saga, “A Father’s Love,” was released this month by Viking. With the publication of the book, he’s given his first extensive media interviews since shortly after Sean was returned to him.

“It’s really incredible,” Goldman said in an interview in a cafe in Red Bank, not far from his home in Tinton Falls. “It’s perfect. From what it was to where we are, it’s beautiful.”

Goldman said he knew that it was legally right for his son to return to him and that he’d do his best as a father. But he figured that the boy would want to go back to Brazil, where he’d spent more than half his life. But so far, Goldman said, Sean hasn’t asked to return, even for a visit.

The story began in 2004 when Goldman’s wife, Bruna Bianchi, took Sean, then 4, to her native Brazil for what David believed would be a two-week visit.

But once in Brazil she called home: She was staying, and so was the child.

One of the mysteries left unsolved by Goldman’s book is exactly why she left and how long she may have been planning the departure.

He said in an interview that’s because he doesn’t know the answer. It seems clear to him that she had planned to leave him; she took nearly all her clothes and didn’t leave behind the spare key to her parents’ New Jersey condo.

Goldman began trying to use the Hague Convention dealing with child abductions to try to get Sean back. The international treaty, of which the U.S. and Brazil are signatories, seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made by the courts in the country where a child originally lived — in this case, the United States. For years, on Goldman’s trips to Brazil to try to enforce his rights, he wasn’t even granted visits with the boy.

The tale took a tragic twist in 2008: Bianchi died while giving birth to a baby by her new husband in Brazil.

It was after that that Goldman’s story began getting the attention of the media.

Bianchi’s death and Goldman’s continuing legal fight made the case perhaps a more compelling drama — but it’s hardly a unique situation. Advocates say there are some 3,000 abducted U.S. children currently in other countries.

The television accounts of Goldman’s plight got the attention of officials who had the power to do something about it.

It wasn’t until after U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, traveled to Brazil with Goldman, and President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with their counterparts in Brazil that Sean was returned — over the steadfast objections in court of his stepfather and maternal grandparents in Brazil.

Goldman said his son was the first U.S. child returned from Brazil under the Hague Convention.

As he tried to bring back his son, the calm Goldman repeatedly said that he would allow his son’s Brazilian grandparents to see the boy.

It was Dec. 24, 2009 when the turnover finally happened. On that day, Sean and his Brazilian family marched a few blocks through a crowded street to their meeting at a U.S. consulate in Rio. It was live on television in Brazil and the United States. Goldman saw that as a way for the family in Brazil to exploit their heartache.

“They dragged him through the streets, for God’s sake,” Goldman said. “That shows what they care about — and it wasn’t him.”

Once the boy was on a private jet and heading to Florida, he finally relaxed, his dad said.

So far, visits with his grandparents in Brazil haven’t happened. And in March, the boy’s grandfather, Raimundo Carneiro Filho, died of lung cancer in Rio de Janeiro. His widow, Silvana Bianchi, said he died “with immense sorrow in his soul” because he never got to see his grandson again.

But to Goldman, it wasn’t so simple.

He says he’s willing to grant Bianchi time with her grandson so long as it follows his conditions — including that she drop her appeals in Brazilian court seeking to have the boy returned there.

In February, a New Jersey judge sided with Goldman on the matter.

Goldman said that he does his best to speak only kindly to his son of the boy’s mother and maternal grandparents.

He offered the boy to call Brazil to speak with his grandmother after her husband died. But Goldman said Sean decided to send a card instead. Relatives in Brazil put too much pressure on the boy when they’ve talked on the phone in the past, Goldman said.

Goldman says he’s mostly concentrating on his son.

He’s taught him to ride a bike and swing a baseball bat and worked on a lot of homework. Despite not having used English regularly for years, he’s getting A’s and B’s, his father said.

Goldman wells up with pride when he holds up a small video camera to show footage he took of Sean playing with his puppy and Sean whacking a base hit in his first time at the plate in organized baseball.

But besides being a dad, Goldman is also continuing to work on the issue of international child abductions. He hopes his book brings attention to the cause; he’s scheduled to testify about it before a Congressional hearing later this month.

And in April, when Brazilian inspectors came to check up on Sean and the condition of their home, David presented them with a letter from parents from six countries whose children have allegedly been abducted to Brazil.

What do you think of David Goldman’s activism? Leave a comment below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Kari O.

    I totally believe in “Karma” and as sad as it is that Sean’s mother died….well, she kept him from his FATHER! Shame on her!

  • Nadine Wagner

    David Goldman is a hero& handled the whole situation with utmost dignity!

  • Daniel Luckas

    Please help me or pass on to one, who might,
    My name is Daniel Luckas and the short summary of my despair is; My daughters mother, Odette C. Perez is attempting to illegally abduct our daughter, Simran Luckas, from the USA to her home country of Belize. Miss Perez entered the USA over six years ago and entered into a false marriage with a criminal she paid a fee to. I met her over four years ago. We had developed a friendship, and after discovering she was pregnant decided to have a child together. Before our daughter was born our relationship fell apart. One week following Simran’s birth I had fallen in love with my daughter. I gave up my personal life and home for over two and half years to keep Miss Perez from leaving as she had threatened to. I am a Blue collar, resident of Levittown, NY. I have never broken a law, suffered any addiction or been anything less than a good man in my 44 years of life. I have dedicated my life and home to my daughter. You do not know me but for my word. I assure you I am a very attentive father.
    Miss Odette Perez was instructed by her lawyer, John Zenir, to move out of my residence and file for full custody of our daughter. After she moved from my home she limited my time and ability to see Simran. I filed in Nassau County Family court for full custody before Miss Perez was able.
    At this present point, and under threats of monetary liability, I broke down in court to just be able to have time with my daughter. My lawyer, Andrea Miller, and I were coerced to agree to secure a US passport for Simran as her mother had a Disney Cruise planned. We were told on that day, June 1st to accept terms of Joint Custody with mother having physical custody. In the written version of our agreement my own lawyer states I did agree and must comply, but there is no time duration set as to when I must comply with set order.
    If you have read to this point please read the following to understand the con being pulled by an illegal citizen upon the NY Family Court and myself.
    The facts are Miss Odette Perez is unemployed with no permanent address and has in writing stated numerous times her desire to leave the USA with my daughter regardless of warrants and/or US law. Miss Perez has somehow acquired over $2000.00 for this cruise. She has had no employment past March of 2011, and has since been on three vacation weekends with herself and her children. With today’s economy, working full time I have not been able to afford a “vacation” since April 2007. Miss Perez’ mother, Syliva Perez plans to meet with the Disney Cruise line, and from one of the islands of Port for The Disney Dream leave directly back to Belize. Miss Perez has put ALL her belongings here in the states in public storage.
    The USA and Belize have supposedly made an agreement under the Hague Agreement. The Belizean Govt. does NOT honor this agreement in full. Miss Sylvia Perez, Odette’s mother is well connected with the Belizean government. Odette has told me of how her mother could send herself and Simran to Europe if I tried to find her! Yes I have this in printed e-mails, but the courts will not address this matter. I viewed the entire hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee On Foreign Affairs, broadcast over the web on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011. Mr. David Goldman, a father of child abducted to Brazil, was eased into allowing his son to leave this country by the promise of his wife. She made his ordeal last beyond her own death. Mr. Carlos Bermudez, father of child abducted to Mexico, cannot get more then fifteen minutes at a time with his son just over the border . A US veteran and now New Jersey Sheriff, Mr. Michael Elias lost his children to his Japanese wife who was aided by the Japanese govt. I have learned from these fathers not to “ignore writing on the wall”. The Office of Children’s Issues asked each of these fathers, to give trust and time. I ask you to know the facts. Delay is denial! This is a human rights issue. It should not be considered a favor to keep my child in the USA, but her privilege as an American citizen. Child abduction is child abuse. My daughter deserves the presence of both parents in her life. As David Goldman stated this issue is, “at the bottom of a totem pole of priority”.
    Am I to become one of these lost parents? I plead with you to aid me in this one request to the Nassau County Family Courts. I have contacted Disney directly. I have read the US govt. web page on travel with children. This trip planned for Aug. 29th through Sept. 4th does not require a passport for Simran Luckas. If indeed I am paranoid, how does denial of a passport for my daughter affect anyone? The Perez’ can have their cruise but without passport must directly break international law to abduct my daughter. If they plan to return home to NY after the cruise, then there is no foul. On February 25th 2011, I had filed with the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program. I have no intention of allowing my daughter to have a passport this year or any time soon.
    Nassau County Family Court is being delinquent in fully researching the depth and the severity of what they are ordering me to comply with. How can they deal with so many cases of custody and not be familiar with international abduction? Should it not be required for EVERY person involved with the rights of children to view the previous mentioned webcast?
    I thank you for your time in reading, but ask further that you act and help me today by contacting Patricia E. Doyle at Family Court, Nassau County. Docket # V-4083-11
    Daniel Luckas
    74 Honeysuckle Road
    Levittown, N.Y. 11756
    516 398-4711

  • Sonia Stronger

    Sonia, are you sided with the ones who cowardly took Sean from this father? Are you sided with the ones who cowardly broke the law because they thought they have the power of money… and LOST ? David Goldman did not denigrate Sean’s late mother’s memory… both Brazilian families -the Ribeiros and the Lins Silva- DID.

    Sonia, go to YouTube and listen to “You Gave me a Mountain”… yes, the Lord gave David Goldman a mountain and David CLIMBED IT… and you, Sonia, you GET LOST.

  • Sheila Peace

    I can’t even imagine the heartache David suffered all those years without his son. Kudos to him for his stamina and determination to bring Sean home. Who among us wouldn’t move mountains to keep our children by our sides? I am thrilled to hear Sean is doing well and that father and son are together as they should be.



  • Sonia Strong

    Goldman said that he does his best to speak only kindly to his son of the boy’s mother and maternal grandparents. But he wrote a book to denigrate his ex-wife’s memory, and she can no longer defend herself. She said he did not like to work very muh. He’s proven it.

    • Kathleen

      His wife denigrated her own memory by kidnapping “their” son to Brazil and expecting his loving Dad to forget his child.

      • TimS

        Sonia, you’re clueless if you think the purpose of the book was to “denigrate his ex-wife’s memory.” David’s son Sean was abducted and calling the people who committed this crime “abductors” is telling it like it is.

        David wrote the book to raise awareness of the horrors of international child abductions and to educate the public. I read somewhere that he is donating a portion of the proceeds from the book to the Bring Sean Home Foundation which he helped establish. I hope he continues his advocacy work on behalf of other victim parents.

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