The case has made international headlines – a father's desperate quest to get his son back. It's been exactly five years since David Goldman's wife, Bruna Bianchi Carneiro Ribeiro, took their then 4-year-old son to Brazil and never came back.
Since then, he's been fighting to be reunited with his little boy, Sean. And just when he thought it was over, another setback. Goldman joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday to talk about the case.
Kiran Chetry: Today you're marking an unwelcome anniversary. It's been five years since you had your son Sean with you. It looked like things were turning in your favor. The high court ruled they were going to honor the Hague Convention on International Abductions. Most of those in the court said your son should come back to you. So what's the delay right now?
David Goldman: Well, what was filed in front of the [Brazilian] Supreme Court was, in fact, if the Brazilian judicial system was going to honor the Hague Convention. If their government was still going to be a party to the Hague Convention where they receive children back under the Hague from America, as well. And they decided yes, we are going to honor the Hague Convention, we will return children. This particular case, a couple of them pointed out that Sean has been here way too long and this needs to be resolved.
And then they punted it back to the second level federal court where there was a stay because of an appeal from this Lins e Silva guy to keep my son there. Hopefully with the [Brazilian] Supreme Court ruling, with the 82-page report from the first-level federal judge ordering my son to be returned home immediately as well as Brazilian court-appointed mental health experts evaluating my son, saying he's been under psychological trauma, emotionally damaged from this family in Brazil, pointing he needs to be home.
Chetry: They also even called it parental alienation, saying his stepfather – that's who he's staying with right now, correct?
Goldman: He actually lives with Bruna's parents.
Chetry: And that's an odd situation in itself. Just take us back to what happened. You were married, you were happily married, at least you thought. Your wife goes away for a couple of weeks.
Goldman: I drove her to the airport with my son and her parents for a vacation. Love, hugs and kisses with my blessings to have a safe trip. And I was going to go down and visit with them at the end of the trip and fly back to help with Sean, bringing him home.
Chetry: And what happened?
Goldman: I get a phone call; it was actually on Father's Day, two days after they arrived. “David, we have to talk. You're a wonderful guy, you're the best father I could ever imagine for my child, but if you ever want to see him again, you need to come to Brazil, meet with my attorney, sign ten pages of legal papers giving me full custody never pressing criminal charges,” a bunch of other demands. Another one was filing to the courts here that we will be separated.
Chetry: And you had no inkling there was any trouble in the marriage?
Goldman: I had no clue. I had no clue.
Chetry: Do you know what happened?
Goldman: She said she decided she is Brazilian and wants to stay in Brazil where she is known.
Chetry: And subsequently, sadly, she passed away in childbirth. And since then, your son, Sean has been living with her new husband?
Goldman: Yes…well, we were still married in America. America doesn't recognize this marriage to this guy. She married him in Brazil for ten months before she passed away. And now, this man is trying to say that he's got more claim of custody over my own child. He's got no blood relation to my son. And yet, in the court in Brazil, the state court, he filed some motion trying to remove my name from my son's birth certificate, to totally erase me and my parents and my son’s whole paternal lineage from his life and replace it with his own.
Chetry: I know that you've been to Brazil. Your congressman actually accompanied you there in helping with this effort. And it's been a very difficult situation because you've been away from your own son for so long now. How does he react to you? And what are your concerns that even if you do get him back, what the psychological damage of this whole tug-of-war will be on him?
Goldman: My concerns are what is being done to him right now. And those are things I can't control. And again, as evidenced from the evaluations…he's being psychologically and emotionally damaged by them. And where he is now is not a healthy environment. They have to look at the boy, they have to look at the child, not their own selfish or whatever reasons. But he is a child, he's a human, and he's my son. I'm not worried about when we're home. I know I will take care of him as I always had before he was abducted. Remember, he lived over four years with me and he was fine.
And he would call when I was able to speak with him, crying to come home to his father. Crying he wants to come home and see his friends and his grandma and grandpa. They tried to erase all that themselves in front of the media like he never had a life here, which he did, which he still does, waiting. It's not about the five years we missed. He's only 9. He's got his whole life ahead and there is bonding and healing. And the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children actually has a program for parents reunited with their abducted children to help them reconnect and re-bond.
Chetry: We wish you the best of luck in this situation. I know it's been a tough road for you. And the courts still have to rule, but hopefully within weeks you may be reunited.
Goldman: Thank you. I hope so.