Debbi K. Swanson Patrick
While terrorists and airport security issues are dominating the news this week, I have to end the year on a happy note. There is probably no one in the United States that isn’t aware of this story. David Goldman has been trying to regain custody of his son Sean for five long years. In the process he has made more than a dozen trips to Brazil, established a foundation for returning abducted children, and been on the Today Show more times than I can recall. All because in 2004 his Brazilian wife Bruna Bianchi flew home supposedly for a two-week vacation, the called David to tell him their marriage was over and he would need to fly to Brazil and relinquish custody if he ever wanted to see Sean again.
She married lawyer Lins e Silva who works in his prominent father’s family law practice. The battle was on. And when Bianchi died last year in childbirth, gloves came off when Silva refused to return Sean to his biological father. Politicians including U.S. Rep Christopher Smith and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been vocal in their condemnation of Brazil’s refusal to return Sean.
In mid-December, ABC News reported that when Brazil issued a stay to prevent Sean’s return, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg placed a hold on a bill renewing a trade deal that allows Brazil and other countries to export some products duty-free to the United States. Brazil received about $2.75 billion in benefits last year from the agreement, according to Smith.
That did it. The federal appellate court ruled Sean should be returned home, and the Brazilian Supreme Court then concurred.
NBC negotiated an exclusive deal with Goldman, paying for Goldman’s final trip to Brazil and chartering the plane to return Sean, which may explain the dearth of photos available of the reunion and of the father and son together since. Goldman has also said he is trying to keep a sense of calm and privacy during this time. We do know that their first stop on the way home from Brazil was Disney World. This photo of David and Sean boarding the jet, courtesy of Getty Images, has been used extensively.
You can read more background at http://bringseanhome.org. There’s also a Facebook page, and, no doubt, an NBC special coming up soon. Happy new year–and let’s hope more families are reunited this year.