Five years on, American father wins sons custody battle

RIO DE JANEIRO: A Brazilian family delivered a nine-year-old boy to his American father in Brazil today, ending a five-year custody battle.

Sean Goldman was brought into the US consulate by several of his Brazilian relatives, making it into the compound’s front door as scores of reporters and cameramen tried to get close. His father, David Goldman of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, was waiting for him inside. Sean cried as his stepfather and family lawyer tried to get him through the scrum of journalists in front of the consulate. Guards had to violently push back photographers and TV cameramen.

The boy carried his luggage and wore a yellow shirt with the Brazilian flag and Olympic rings underneath.

He didn’t say anything as he was led from a black SUV across the street to the consulate. His maternal grandmother, Silvana Bianchi, said in tears simply that “this is a very difficult moment.” Bianchi wanted to travel with Sean to the United States to help in the transition, but family lawyer Sergio Tostes said her wish was denied by the American government. Tostes said he had asked the Brazilian government to intervene but authorities said the decision had to be respected.

US Embassy spokeswoman Orna Blum said the government and consulate were not involved in the travel arrangements, which she said were handled by lawyers on both sides.

Bianchi and the rest of the boy’s Brazilian relatives left the consulate about an hour after delivering him, and Goldman and the boy left to the airport about 15 minutes later. New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith, who was in Brazil with Goldman, said on NBC’s Today show that once Sean was inside the consulate, he met with his father in a private conference room. Smith said they talked about basketball. A little more than an hour after the reunion, they were en route to an airport.

“There’s going to be some moments, but David is absolutely thrilled,” Smith said. Goldman’s New Jersey-based lawyer, Patricia Apy, criticised how the turnover was conducted.

“Unfortunately, the Brazilian family parked away and walked him through the press, which only serves to make the situation more stressful for the child,” Apy said.