David Goldman never thought that four years would pass without seeing his son. In 2004, his wife, Bruna Bianchi, left with their son, Sean, then 4, for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation back in her native Brazil—and never returned. To Goldman's surprise, Bianchi filed for divorce while abroad, telling the boy's father, according to Goldman, that if he ever wanted to see Sean again, he would have to assign sole custody of the boy to her. Bruna eventually remarried Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, a lawyer from a prominent Brazilian family. Bianchi died in August due to complications during the birth of her second child, setting the grounds for one of the most intriguing custody cases the United States has seen since Cuba’s Elian Gonzalez, then 6, was found adrift in the Caribbean Sea in November 1999.
Sean is currently living with his stepfather, Joao Paulo, in Brazil. Paulo insists that Goldman never supported his ex-wife and child, nor did he ever try to visit the boy after Bianchi left the United States. But Goldman says that the Lins e Silva family and Brazilian courts have refused to let him see his son and he has been fighting through every legal venue he knows for the past five years to regain custody of Sean.
Goldman was given his first glimmer of hope at the beginning of this week when a court order granting immediate custody of the 9-year-old boy to his U.S. father was issued. But Judge Marco Aurelio, a Brazilian supreme court justice, suspended the order, extending a case that has reached the highest levels of both the Brazilian and U.S. governments. Aurelio said the suspension was granted in response to an emergency request filed by a small Brazilian political party that argued the boy should stay in Brazil and claimed that the family case has wrongly been turned into a political matter.
Tell us: Do you think Sean belongs with his father in the United States?