Dad urges U.S. action in int’l custody battles

Dad urges U.S. action in int’l custody battles

David and Sean Goldman, before the boy’s mother took him to Brazil in 2004.
David and Sean Goldman, before the boy’s mother took him to Brazil in 2004.

David Goldman, the Tinton Falls man who has waged a long battle with Brazilian authorities for custody of his son, made an emotional plea to Congress “to bring our children home.”

Goldman testified Dec. 2 before a hearing on international parental child abduction of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

He spoke of the pain and frustration he has experienced since his son, Sean — now nine — was taken to Brazil by his mother, Bruna Goldman. She divorced Goldman after taking Sean to Brazil in 2004 for what was to be a two-week vacation. She never returned, and before and after her death in 2008, Goldman has fought with her second husband’s wealthy and influential family for custody of the boy.

On June 1, a federal court in Brazil ordered Sean returned, but the ruling has been blocked by Brazilian political parties objecting to an international treaty on child abduction that favors the claim of families like Goldman’s.

“I appeal and plead to all of you at the most basic level of human decency to respect the sanctity of a parent-child relationship,” Goldman testified. “Please take action to bring our children home, to make a difference, to bring change.”

A transcript of his remarks was made available by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ R-Dist. 4), who recently accompanied Goldman to Brazil to see Sean. Both Smith and Goldman’s congressman, Rep. Rush Holt (D-Dist.12), have pushed to have Goldman testify before Congress.

“Our goal is two-fold,” said Jeff Sagnip, Smith’s public policy director. “First, of course, is to bring Sean home, but we’re looking for David to set a precedent for all parents in this predicament. Other countries will be looking to the Brazil case.”

Smith, in his remarks to the commission, called international child abduction “an ever-worsening global human rights abuse that seriously harms children while inflicting excruciating emotional pain and suffering on left-behind parents and families.”

The U.S. Department of State is currently handling about 1,900 cases involving over 2,800 children abducted by a parent or legal guardian to another country, according to Smith. He added that such reported abductions have increased about 60 percent in the last three years, 40 percent in 2008 alone.

Smith has introduced the International Child Abduction Protection Act of 2009.

Holt told the commmittee, “The safe and speedy return of these children is our national obligation,” and said he has repeatedly brought the matter up to Brazilian and American authorities, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Barack Obama has also broached the matter with Brazilian officials.

New Jersey’s two senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both Democrats, and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) are the prime authors of a Senate resolution that passed in March calling for Sean’s return to the United States.

Goldman said the “outpouring of support from American and Brazilian citizens alike and from all over the world remind me that I do not stand alone while my son and I stare in the face of this un-Godly living hell.”

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