By Daniel Tosca, Contributing Reporter

Sean Goldman's biological father David at The Supreme Court earlier this year, photo by / ABr
Sean Goldman's biological father David Goldman at The Supreme Court earlier this year, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr.

RIO DE JANEIRO – David Goldman arrived in Rio last Thursday, December 17th, hoping that last week’s ruling by the Federal Court of Appeals, for custody of his son Sean to be granted within 48 hours, be the last in a series of delays and appeals that have kept him from his son since 2004.

By the time he arrived that hope had already been dashed, yet another chapter in a story that’s gone on for about 5 years and has been avidly followed as a real life soap opera by thousands of Brazilians and Americans.

In an indication of the case’s complexities, last Wednesday’s decision by a Regional Federal Tribunal to hand over Sean to his father was overturned, and his permanence in Brazil required until the final word of the trial is heard. When that may be is still uncertain, but David Goldman arrived in Rio still hopeful of a swift solution. At the time of going to press, Monday’s expected verdict from Presiding Jusitice Gilmar Mendes had yet to arrive.

The delays stem from the criss-crossing jurisdiction of several layers of authority to which Sean’s Brazilian Grandmother and the Stepfather have been launching appeals. Injunctions may be granted at State, Federal and Supreme Court level, all of who will want to proceed carefully in such a high profile case.

In a letter published by O Globo newspaper, the Grandmother Silva Bianchi appealed in writing to President Lula to uphold the Brazilian tradition of Grandmother as the next in line to a mother for taking care of the family, and has called for the best interests of the boy to be heard from his own mouth. The lawyer for the Grandmother also went so far as to condemn the actions of the American Embassy for interfering in ‘the internal affairs of Brazil.

On June 16, 2004 David Goldman took his Brazilian wife Bruna and their son Sean to Newark Airport for a trip to Brazil to visit her family. Shortly after arriving in her native country, she is said to have called David to announce the end of their relationship and her intention to get custody of their son.

Presiding Justice Gilmar Mendes is due to give his verdict on the future of Sean Goldman this week, photo by Antonio Cruz/ABr.
Presiding Justice Gilmar Mendes is due to give his verdict on the future of Sean Goldman this week, photo by Antonio Cruz/ABr.

After a four year struggle to see his son, Bruna’s death during childbirth on August 22, 2008 led David to believe that custody of his son was imminent, however Bruna’s new husband Joao Paulo Lins e Silva has since filed for custody, as has Bruna’s mother, Sean’s grandmother.

The story sits somewhat uncomfortably in a country that prides itself on protection of minors. As anyone who has tried to take their own child on a short bus ride out of the city can attest, the present dangers of kidnapping are keenly observed and countered in Brazil. Without proper documentation, including notarized signatures if only one parent is traveling with child, passage will simply be refused.

All of which makes it even more remarkable that the Brazilian Court system continues to prolong the situation despite their inclusion in an 81 signature-strong international treaty condemning illegal retention of a minor overseas. Also adding to the pressure are direct appeals by President Barack Obama and Senator Clinton – and major international trade agreements.


  1. As an american and mother of 3 children, I will never support a country that is not part of our civilized world!! The grandmother should be subject to psychological testing, she has manipulated this poor child and banned him from his father. As for the whining stepfather, and the issues that the mother wasn’t loved or wasn’t intimate with Goldman, I am sure like most woman who have a child and aren’t ready for it, they are unable to admit that they are not the center of attention anymore. This woman was selfish and wanted to bea princess . Shame on her for putting her own interests b/4 her child!

  2. It seems to me that in Brasil, Fathers do not have rights to their children. And it seems that if you have money and know people they you can drag anything out in court. And in most (NOT ALL) cases the Americans are always wrong and they will find in favor of the Brazilians eachtime. The child should have been turned over to his father along time ago. Lula signed the Hague Convention but yet the Brazilian courts do not want to follow this, and Lula said theres nothing he can do…it up to the courts. Sometimes I wonder….

  3. David Goldman is only in it for the publicity and the money. He accepted a settlement payment from Bruna and now that she has passed, he wants what monies Sean has inherited. Same on him! Leave Sean in Brazil with his only family who can afford to raise him right.

  4. Now, we wanna hear the boy, how does HE feel about to to live in an IGLOO, cold NJ, and spend his time with a loser like this clown David, in a land that kills children all over the world and cage them if they do any little human mistake.
    Ten years from now…

    Sean: dad, why we don´t have any food to eat?
    David seated in a coach: Well, son, I´m doing the best I can….we have a bond.
    Sean: But, dad, did you spend all the money NBC gave to you and the T-shirts with MY FACE?
    David:Well, son, I´m doing the best I can….we have a bond.
    Sean: But, dad, new I´ll have to spend my entire summer cleaning toilets just to eat?
    David:Well, son, I´m doing the best I can….we have a bond.
    Sean: But, dad, my sister in Rio is going to sky in Switzerland, while we are here all broken, frozn in this North Pole climate.
    David:Well, son, I´m doing the best I can….we have a bond.
    Sean: Ok, dad, I´m going to a macdonaolds in Newark Airport, I´ll come back, wait here ok?
    David:Well, son, I´m doing the best I can….we have a bond, see you later.

  5. The boy belongs with his father. Period! This has hurt the image of Brazil in America! Some of these comments just confirms the ignorance!

  6. Reply to O Macho… You seem to hate the United States, so please answer one question for me. Why do we have so many ILLEGAL immigrants from Brazil here in the United States?? Where I am, in Boston (colder than the “IGLOO” NJ) Brazilians are one of the largest groups of illegal immigrants… If Brazil is such a wonderful country, why do so many of you come to the US illegally? Tell me, do you have many American citizens immigrating to Brazil? I’m sure many more people leave your country to come to the US. Sure the US is not perfect, but it is a better country than Brazil will ever be, and if you disagree then PLEASE stop sending all your hungry poor Brazilians to the US.

  7. Well, we are finally hearing from Sean – live on the radio in Rio de Janeiro. He is crying hysterically and does not want to leave. Crying so much, that they are considering taking him to the hospital to calm and cool him down.

    I am an American and a single father of two boys, yet I will repeat what I said earlier:

    David Goldman is only in it for the publicity and the money. He accepted a [divorce] settlement payment from Bruna and now that she has passed, he wants what monies Sean has inherited. Same on him! Leave Sean in Brazil with his only family who can afford to raise him right.

  8. There are obviously two different people named ‘Rick’ responding to this thread. One is an American, living in Brazil and sympathetic to Sean’s Brazilian story and the other is an American living in the U.S. who fails to realize that The United States was built by Immigrants. Just look around you in Boston – home to Irish, Italian, Chinese and countless other Immigrant Nationalities who made that city great.

  9. David Goldman has shown honor in his fight for his son. The Brazilians have done nothing but put Sean in the middle of their selfish media exposure. This is evidenced by how they paraded Sean when handing him over to his father. I have no respect for adults who harm children this way.

  10. It is clear that Sean will need a lot of help from family and professionals in the coming years. It is a shame that it has come to this…. fighting in a battle over a little boy. A boy who is being pulled by 2 sides who say they love him. I am a mother of a little girl, and I can’t believe the grandparents. The argument that Sean is being pulled from the only life he has known is amazing coming from the mother of the mother who did the very same thing to Sean at such an impressionable age. Yes, it will be traumatic. Yes, it will be difficult… but that stage of events was started the moment that his mother took him away from the only life he ever knew. As a mother, I can not imagine removing my child from the only life she ever knew… unless the living circumstances were horrid. I can tell you, NJ may not be the prettiest place on earth, but it is a fine place to grow up, with one of the best education systems in the country.

    Yes, of course Sean was crying on the radio. His private life is being paraded in front of people who are fighting, yet once again, to get a photo of him. And why was he there in the first place? A family that loves him and wanting to make a smooth transition for him would have done it in a more private matter (and they had the option), but they chose to exploit him.
    All he wants is a stable life. Both sides could probably provide that for him. But only side is legally supposed to do that – his father.

    I hope that people give this boy the opportunity to recover from a series of traumatic events. If the media camps out in front of his NJ home, they are no better than the media that fought to get a picture of him when he was reuniting with his father.

  11. I’m sure that most Brazilians support the biological father in this case. He has obviously shown his love for this boy in fighting for him all these years. It shouldnt have gone on this long. I am so happy for david and his son Sean.

  12. Silva Bianchi, her son, Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, and the rest of that family can rot in hell this Christmas for their antics in keeping a father and son separated for so long.

  13. Now then… Would you say that Sean’s is being less ‘exploited’ now by his American father, then he was during his emotional farewell to his Brazilian family? Exclusive NBC television deals , book deals and movie deals. Hhmm, it seems to me that David Goldman is the one who is over sensationalizing this entire process… and once again for the almighty dollar. Sean was not the one waving heroically to the crowds upon arrival, he was the one cowering in the back of the airplane, hesitant to exit and overwrought with turmoil. He was happy, calm, well cared for and well loved in Brazil. Now… now he is caught up in the true media circus and I feel sadly for the boy. I hope that he can adjust and begin to adapt, over time. Our prayers are with him. That being said however, on his 18th birthday I would love to see him get on an airplane, offering a final hand jester to the small gathering of media who will have all but forgotten ‘his’ story by then and continue onward toward his eventual return to Brazil and the family that he was so rudely torn from. They say “actions speak louder than words”, and with that I say: shame on David Goldman for what he is doing now and what he is about to drag Sean through. That is not parental love, that is arrogance and greed.


  15. I m pretty happy for Sean and David. The justice must to prevail always even in my damn country where nothing works. Thanks God they re together now.

  16. I am appalled at some of the comments I am reading here. Especially by Mario who is claiming Sean has a Brasilian mother. No sir, she has passed. What I find interesting is that his birth mother was pregnant in June and died in Childbirth about 2 months later. Apparently this child was not David Goldmans. This man has been thru hell for the love of his child. He has not shut out his childs maternal relatives, and the maternal relatives have attempted to shut him out. Anyone who has been through a custody dispute understands how completely heart wrenching it can be. I can only look at David Goldman with great admiration and pride. The easy thing for him to do would have been to simply give up and move on. If he makes ANY money on his story, he is completely entitled, and has already paid a price greater than anyone would volunteer, the loss of his son for 5 precious years. I pray that his son Sean grows up to be as good a man and David Goldman.

  17. Several factors are in play here–
    -Parental rights, which trump 2nd line of consanguinity in both countries
    -Best interests of the child: who are the child’s psychological parents?
    -Age of consent; in most courts in Both countries, a seven year old is not capable of making decisions
    -Two families acting badly: for God’s sake, you guys, get together on this issue and give this a big loving family with Brazilian and U.S. roots

    The only solution given the adults’ poor behavior is Solomonic: cut the baby in half.

  18. I think cutting the child in half was a ruse that Soloman employed to see which parent put the welfare of the child over their own selfish desire to be with them. I see no such guile in your suggestion (Susan), nor do I see any recognition of the reality that David Goldman has always allowed the child to be with the mother’s side of the family. The mothers side has shown no such altruism. They kept the child to themselves in a selfish way that did not put the childs needs first. This is NOT 2 families behaving badly. This is the Mother and her family behaving badly, not the father, and the Brasilian high court finally did the right thing. The child’s father is his closest relative, and any shadow of doubt as to who is the best family for the welfare of the child should fall to his side, that of the closest living relative. That is the boy’s father, PERIOD.

  19. This forum is the same as the forum about child abduction in Japan. The boy belongs with his Father. This isn’t about Brazil VS America. It is about the law! Brazilians everywhere ought to be ashamed of the way this 9-year-old boy was forced to do a “Perp-walk” through the streets on the way to the US embassy. How do you Brazilians feel about your countrymen(of Japanese ancestry) being encouraged(forced) to leave Japan and never return because of hard economic times in Japan? Oh, wait! I forgot you don’t want them either, right? What do you call them? Chinos?


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