Goldman child abduction bill on Obama’s desk

By Nicole Gaudiano, Washington Bureau, APP.com

 

WASHINGTON —David Goldman remembers the relief he felt on Christmas Eve 2009, when he emailed “wheels up” to family and friends, letting them know that he and his son Sean were on a plane heading home.

That day came five years after Sean’s abduction to Brazil by his mother. He hopes final passage Friday of abduction-prevention legislation bearing their name will help other parents know that relief.

“Once this bill becomes law, they will get the action they deserve and they need and the help that’s required,” said the Monmouth County resident. “They can have their ‘wheels up’ moment.”

The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act passed the House unanimously Friday by voice vote and now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is designed to help the State Department put increasing pressure on foreign governments to send home American children who are abducted overseas. It also requires better reporting and support from the State Department so that left-behind parents are not on their own in overseas battles to win the return of their abducted children.

Smith originally proposed the legislation five years ago, after personally intervening in the Goldman case.

“In the five-year push to turn this bill into law, we have seen a sea change in the Congress’ and State Department’s understanding of international parental child abduction — an understanding that these abductions are a form of child abuse and a human rights violation,” Smith said in a statement. “There are many heartbroken parents waiting for this bill to help them in their fight to see their children again.”

Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement the legislation will “focus attention on this heartbreaking issue, assist parents in bringing abducted children home where they legally and rightfully belong, and bolster prevention so that children are less likely to be abducted in the first place.”

Sean was 4 years old when he was abducted in 2004 by his Brazilian mother, who later died. His father drove them to the airport for what he thought would be a vacation. Three days later, he got a call from his wife on Father’s Day to tell him she wasn’t bringing Sean home.

Goldman credits the work of media outlets and pressure from U.S. government officials in helping him reunite with his son. He choked up, talking about Smith’s efforts.

“When he takes up a cause and believes in it, there’s no stopping him,” he said.

After learning the House would take up the bill Friday, Goldman, a charter boat captain, said he raced home to watch the vote on C-SPAN with his family. Sean turned 14 on May 25, International Missing Children’s Day. A big grin spread across his face as he realized what was happening, his father said. He reached for his Dad’s hand and shook it.

“He’s very proud to have his name on a piece of legislation that will go on our national laws forever to help families and children reunite and end the suffering,” Goldman said.

 

PICTURED: Sean Goldman and Congressman Chris Smith.

Among its provisions, the bill provides eight steps the administration should take, increasing in severity, when a country refuses to help resolve overseas abduction and access cases involving American children. They range from a petition through diplomatic channels to a withdrawal of U.S. assistance to a formal request for extradition.

The bill urges the administration to pursue bilateral agreements with countries to locate and foster the return of abducted children and protect the access of the left-behind parent to the child.

The State Department’s position is that it can’t help parents of children who were illegally taken to countries that haven’t signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Smith said. With this bill, he said, parents with children held in “non-Hague” countries can work with the State Department.

“They won’t be on their own, far from the United States, desperately trying to get their children back,” Smith said.

Goldman, who co-founded the Bring Sean Home Foundation to help parents in similar situations, said the bill lets other countries know “we mean business” and that they will be punished if they refuse to help return abducted American children.

Goldman said he had no big celebratory plans for Friday night. He dropped off Sean at a friend’s house. He may watch “Jeopardy” with his wife, Wendy, before turning in early.

Goldman said he’ll begin to celebrate when he starts to see more children coming home to their waiting families. More than 1,000 international child abductions are reported to the State Department each year.

“We look at it as a great step,” he said. “It’s such a nice feeling. But there’s still thousands of parents who are now living what we had for so long. Until they get action, it’s still the same day-after-day of torture.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TEXT OF LEGISLATION

Follow the Bring Sean Home Foundation on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BringSeanHome).

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Child abduction bill inspired by N.J. father David Goldman earns final approval

By MaryAnn Spoto, The Star-Ledger, NJ.com

 

Federal lawmakers gave more ammunition to American parents whose children are illegally retained by family members in other countries when the U.S. House of Representatives today passed a resolution inspired by a Tinton Falls father whose son was held in Brazil by his wife and her parents for more than five years.

The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, approved by the full House of Representatives, authorizes the U.S. State Department to take increasingly forceful measures against any country that does not help return an American child not illegally held there.

In 2004, David Goldman’s wife left with their 4-year-old son Sean ostensibly to visit her parents in Brazil. Instead of returning home, she divorced him and eventually remarried. After she died from complications from childbirth, her parents refused to return the boy to his father, touching off a bitter 5½-year international legal and political fight that went all the way to the State Department. A court in Brazil finally ordered Sean returned to his father.

Goldman, with strong backing from U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.), turned his case into a very public appeal to tighten weaknesses of international child abduction treaties.

“In the five-year push to turn this bill into law, we have seen a sea change in the Congress’ and State Department’s understanding of international parental child abduction—an understanding that these abductions are a form of child abuse and a human rights violation,” Smith said in a statement. “There are many heartbroken parents waiting for this bill to help them in their fight to see their children again.”

The House originally passed the measure, HR3212, in December but addressed it again today after the Senate approved it with some modifications on July 16. It now goes to President Obama for his consideration.

“It was a long road, nearly five years, thanks to a tremendous effort of Congressman Smith and his staff,” Goldman said in a statement. “It was a great thing to do. It was the right thing to do. It’s another step closer to reuniting families.”

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., cosponsor, said he’s working with another father, Mike Elias of Rutherford, whose wife took their two children to Japan four years ago. Elias, an Iraqi war veteran Marine sergeant, is also involved in a bitter custody dispute.

“Today’s passage of this critical legislation will bring us one step closer to reuniting families that were wrongfully torn apart while preventing abductions from happening in the first place,” Pascrell said.

Among its provisions, HR312 requires the State Department to produce a comprehensive annual report on international parental child abductions. That report must include information on whether the government of a country in question has a history of non-compliance with child abduction cases.

It also requires U.S. diplomatic and consular missions to monitor abduction and access cases and to work out agreements with countries that are unlikely to join the Hague Abduction Convention, which sets rules for handling international child abduction cases.

The measure also authorizes $1 million for each of the next two years for judicial training for those countries that have a pattern of non-compliance or that have a significant number of unresolved abduction cases.

“Passing this legislation will focus attention on this heart-breaking issue, assist parents in bringing abducted children home where they legally and rightfully belong and bolster prevention so that children are less likely to be abducted in the first place,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a co-author of the resolution.

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Bill authored by New Jersey Congressman to help abducted children going to Obama’s desk

By Sherrina Navani, The Trentonian

 

PLAINSBORO— A local mom’s desire to regain custody of her abducted children will soon lie in the President’s hands.

A bill that would help Bindu Philips bring back her kids, who allegedly were kidnapped and taken to India by her abusive ex-husband in 2008, is on its way to President Obama’s desk, according to a release.

The lead champion for the bill, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) introduced the legislation over five years ago, as a way to prevent international parental child abduction. On Friday, Congress gave their final approval to The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act.

“Many children and parents have tragically lost years separated from each other in violation of U.S. and international law,” Smith said in a release. “They have missed birthdays, holidays, and family time—that they can never get back…The Goldman Act is designed to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction and heal enormous pain and suffering and bring abducted children home.”

According to Philips, her husband Sunil Jacob, 45, took the family on a vacation to visit his extended family in Kerala India. However, when it was time to leave, Jacob and his two twin boys did not board the plane, forcing his wife to leave the country without her then five year old boys.

“It was all a big shock to me, I had no idea what was going to happen when we left in December 2008 for the family vacation,” Philips told The Trentonian in 2013. “Through an investigation the Plainsboro Police and the FBI learned that he had been planning this for months in advance and he even had all of our belongings shipped to India, so when I got home there was nothing left, no car, no clothes, nothing.”

Smith’s legislation will give the State Department a variety of tools to pressure “non-Hague treaty” foreign governments — like, India — to send back American children abducted to overseas destinations. Better reporting and support from the State Department is also at the core of the legislation empowering “left-behind parents” to fight and possibly win overseas battles.

The Hague Treaty provides details for the quick return of abducted children to their home country, and helps to facilitate visitation between parents and children while the case is pending, according to the release. However, many Hague signatory countries, like Brazil, refuse to follow the guidelines set by the treaty and many parents are left fighting a losing battle when their children are abducted.

If signed by the president, the legislation would impose stringent sanctions like the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. development assistance, security assistance or foreign economic support, just to name a few.

“Currently, if you have a child who is illegally taken to a non-Hague country, the State Department position is that there’s nothing it can do to help,” Smith said. “That’s totally unacceptable. With this bill, for the first time ever . . . The Act also ensures that the Department of Defense will assist our men and women in uniform who find themselves facing parental child abduction.”

According to the press release, more than 1000 international child abductions are reported to the State Department’s Office on Children’s Issues each year. The National Center for Exploited and Missing Children reported that there have been at least 168 international child abductions from New Jersey since 1995.

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‘Sean and David Goldman Act’ to Become Law Congress Clears Smith’s Int’l Child Abduction Bill

By Jeff Sagnip, Office of Congressman Chris Smith

 

WASHINGTON—Today, nearly five years after U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) introduced his first bill to prevent international parental child abduction standing alongside “left behind” parents in front of the Capitol, Congress gave final approval to his legislation, The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, House of Representatives Bill 3212 (H.R. 3212).

Smith wrote the original proposed legislation in 2009 subsequent to his personal intervention in the fight to bring Sean Goldman home to New Jersey, years after he had been abducted to Brazil by his mother. Smith’s successful work with Sean’s father, David, and a team of lawyers—including Patricia Apy, of Red Bank, NJ—and volunteers helped bring Sean home, but also uncovered gaping weaknesses in U.S. law and the need to codify best practices so that other Americans will also see their children returned home.

“In the five-year push to turn this bill into law, we have seen a sea of change in the Congress’ and State Department’s understanding of international parental child abduction—an understanding that these abductions are a form of child abuse and a human rights violation. There are many heartbroken parents waiting for this bill to help them in their fight to see their children again.

“Many children and parents have tragically lost years separated from each other in violation of U.S. and international law,” Smith said. “They have missed birthdays, holidays, and family time—that they can never get back. H.R. 3212 ensures that they will now receive significant help from the U.S. government in their fights to recover their children. Every day a child is separated from his or her rightful parent and home in the United States brings immense suffering to both parent and child. The Goldman Act is designed to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction and heal enormous pain and suffering and bring abducted children home.”

David Goldman watched the final House approval on television today with excitement. He stood by Smith in 2009 when the legislation was first unveiled.

“It was a long road, nearly five years, thanks to a tremendous effort of Congressman Smith and his staff,” Goldman said. “It was a great thing to do. It was the right thing to do. It’s another step closer to reuniting families. Next step: the White House.”

At its core, Smith’s legislation will give the State Department a variety of tools to pressure foreign governments to send home American children abducted to overseas destinations. The bill also requires better reporting and support from the State Department so that left-behind parents are not on their own in overseas battles to win the return of their abducted children.

During his five year struggle, Smith has authored four versions of the bill (HR 3240; HR 1940; HR 1951 and HR 3212) using each to educate his colleagues and make modifications aimed at winning widespread support in an increasingly partisan Congress. In December 2013, the House passed Smith’s bill, 398-0. Smith noted the work of Foreign Affairs Chairman Bob Menendez and Ranking Republican Bob Corker when the bill passed the Senate on July 16th, with some final modifications.

Smith named the bill after David and Sean Goldman who have been reunited in Monmouth County for nearly five years. Following Sean’s return to New Jersey, David Goldman has stayed active in promoting the legislation in an effort to spare other parents and children the painful, illegal separation he and his son endured for five years.

Smith has held multiple hearings on the heartbreaking cases of left-behind parents of American children abducted to India, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Russia, England and other countries, from which few are returned. Not all countries have signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the main international treaty to address parental abductions. The Hague provides a civil framework for the quick return of abducted children to their home country, and facilitation of visitation and contact between parents and children during the pendency of the case and after the resolution. Unfortunately, many Hague signatories, like Brazil, fail to consistently enforce the Hague Convention provisions.

Among its many provisions, H.R. 3212 provides eight steps the Administration should take, increasing in severity, when a country refuses to cooperate in the resolution of overseas abduction and access cases involving American children:

  • a demarche (a petition or protest through diplomatic channels);
  • an official public statement detailing unresolved cases;
  • a public condemnation;
  • a delay or cancellation of one or more bilateral working, official, or state visits;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. development assistance;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. security assistance;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of foreign assistance to the central government of a country relating to economic support; and
  • a formal request to the foreign country concerned to extradite an individual who is engaged in abduction and who has been formally accused of, charged with, or convicted of an extraditable offense.
  •  

    The bill also—for the first time—urges the Administration to enter into Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) or other bilateral agreements with both Hague Convention and non-Hague Convention countries, to locate and foster the return of abducted children and protect the access of the left-behind parent to the child. In order to ensure better accountability of the Administration and to warn U.S. judges who may allow a child to visit a country from which return is difficult, the bill significantly enhances reporting on country-by-country performance. Smith noted that countries that have signed the Hague Treaty, like Japan, may still need an additional MOU to help those left-behind parents that were separated from their children prior to treaty accession.

    H.R. 3212 also requires the Administration to inform Members of Congress when a child has been abducted from their districts. It also directs the Secretary of Defense to designate an official within the Department of Defense to coordinate with the Department of State on international child abduction issues and “oversee activities designed to prevent or resolve international child abduction cases relating to active duty military service members.”

    “Currently, if you have a child who is illegally taken to a non-Hague country, the State Department position is that there’s nothing it can do to help,” Smith said. “That’s totally unacceptable. With this bill, for the first time ever, parents with children held in non-Hague countries can work with the State Department. They won’t be on their own, far from the United States, desperately trying to get their children back. The Act also ensures that the Department of Defense will assist our men and women in uniform who find themselves facing parental child abduction.”

    More than one thousand international child abductions are reported to the State Department’s Office on Children’s Issues each year. Between 2008 and 2013, at least 8,000 American children were abducted, according to the State Department. Earlier this year, the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children reported that there have been at least 168 international child abductions from New Jersey since 1995.

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    Exactly Five Years to the Day of First Introduction, Smith’s Int’l Child Abduction Bill Passes Senate; Heads Back to House for Final Approval

    Bill prods State Dept. and provides tools to bring American children home

    Written by Jeff Sagnip, Office of Congressman Chris Smith


     

    On Wednesday, July 16, exactly five years to the day that Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) introduced his first bill to prevent international parental child abduction, the U.S. Senate finally approved Smith’s legislation, The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, House of Representatives Bill 3212 (H.R. 3212).

    Smith wrote the original proposed legislation in 2009 subsequent to his personal intervention in the fight to bring Sean Goldman home to New Jersey, years after he had been abducted to Brazil by his mother. Smith’s successful work with Sean’s father, David, and a team of lawyers, volunteers and media helped bring Sean home, but also uncovered gaping weaknesses in U.S. law and the need to codify best practices so that other Americans will also see their children returned home.

     

    PICTURED: David Goldman and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ4), July 16, 2009.


     

    At its core, Smith’s legislation will give the State Department a variety of tools to pressure foreign governments to send home American children abducted to overseas destinations. The bill also requires better reporting and support from the State Department so that left-behind parents are not on their own in overseas battles to win the return of their abducted children.

    During his five year struggle, Smith has authored four versions of the bill (HR 3240; HR 1940; HR 1951 and HR 3212) using each to educate his colleagues and make modifications aimed at winning widespread support in an increasingly partisan congress. In December 2013, the House passed Smith’s bill unanimously, 398-0. Smith said he was grateful that Foreign Affairs Chairman Bob Menendez and Ranking Republican Bob Corker released the bill out of committee to the Senate floor where it passed unanimously in a voice vote, with some final modifications.

    “In the five-year push to turn this bill into law, we have seen a sea change in the Congress’ and State Department’s understanding of international parental child abduction—an understanding that these abductions are a form of child abuse and a human rights violation. There are many heartbroken parents waiting for this bill to help them in their fight to see their children again.

    “Many children and parents have tragically lost years separated from each other in violation of U.S. and international law,” Smith said. “They have missed birthdays, holidays, and family time—that they can never get back. H.R. 3212 ensures that they will now receive significant help from the U.S. government in their fights to recover their children. Every day a child is separated from his or her rightful parent and home in the United States brings immense suffering to both parent and child. The Goldman Act is designed to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction and heal enormous pain and suffering and bring abducted children home.”

    In 2013, Smith named the bill after David and Sean Goldman who have been reunited in Monmouth County for nearly five years. Following Sean’s return to New Jersey, David Goldman has stayed active in promoting the legislation in an effort to spare other parents and children the painful, illegal separation he and his son endured for five years.

    Smith has held multiple hearings on the heartbreaking cases of left-behind parents of American children abducted to India, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Russia, England and other countries, from which few are returned. Not all countries have signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the main international treaty to address parental abductions. The Hague provides a civil framework for the quick return of abducted children to their home country, and facilitation of visitation and contact between parents and children during the pendency of the case and after the resolution. Unfortunately, many Hague signatories, like Brazil, fail to consistently enforce the Hague Convention provisions.

    Among its many provisions, H.R. 3212 provides eight steps the Administration should take, increasing in severity, when a country refuses to cooperate in the resolution of overseas abduction and access cases involving American children:

  • a demarche;
  • an official public statement detailing unresolved cases;
  • a public condemnation;
  • a delay or cancellation of one or more bilateral working, official, or state visits;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. development assistance;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. security assistance;
  • the withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of foreign assistance to the central government of a country relating to economic support; and
  • a formal request to the foreign country concerned to extradite an individual who is engaged in abduction and who has been formally accused of, charged with, or convicted of an extraditable offense.
  •  

    The bill also—for the first time—urges the Administration to enter into Memorandums of Understanding or other bilateral agreements with non-Hague Convention countries to locate and foster the return of abducted children and protect the access of the left-behind parent to the child. In order to ensure better accountability of the Administration and to warn U.S. judges who may allow a child to visit a country from which return is difficult, the bill significantly enhances reporting on country-by-country performance.

    H.R. 3212 also requires the Administration to inform Members of Congress about abducted children from their districts. It also that directs the Secretary of Defense shall designate an official within the Department of Defense to coordinate with the Department of State on international child abduction issues and “oversee activities designed to prevent or resolve international child abduction cases relating to active duty military service members.

    “Currently, if you have a child who is illegally taken to a non-Hague country, the State Department position is that there’s nothing it can do to help,” Smith said. “That’s totally unacceptable. With this bill, for the first time ever, parents with children held in non-Hague countries can work with the State Department. They won’t be on their own, far from the United States, desperately trying to get their children back. The Act also ensures that the Department of Defense will assist our men and women in uniform who find themselves facing parental child abduction.”

    More than one thousand international child abductions are reported to the State Department’s Office on Children’s Issues each year. Between 2008 and 2013, at least 8,000 American children were abducted, according to the State Department. Earlier this year, the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children reported that there have been at least 168 international child abductions from New Jersey since 1995.

     

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    CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TEXT OF LEGISLATION

    ‘Sean and David Goldman’ child abduction bill advances

    Written by Nicole Gaudiano; and Ally Mutnick, Washington Bureau, APP.com

     

    WASHINGTON — A bill inspired by New Jersey resident David Goldman’s five-year battle to bring his son, Sean, home from Brazil passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

    The “Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act” is designed to bolster the government’s ability to help parents rescue abducted children taken overseas.

    “David lived every parent’s worst nightmare, but would not rest until Sean was home and back in his arms,” Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said in a statement. “This bill will help parents like David with the tools to assist in securing the return of their abducted children and bolster prevention options so that children are less likely to be abducted in the first place.”

    Menendez introduced the bill with Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee’s ranking Republican. A similar bill, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., unanimously passed the House in December.

    “Every day of separation brings immense suffering to abducted children and their left-behind parents,” Smith said in a statement. “The Goldman Act will mitigate enormous pain and suffering and accelerate the return of abducted children.”

    Among the Senate bill’s provisions are requirements for annual State Department reports on international child abductions and for U.S. diplomatic and consular missions to monitor abduction and access cases and assist left-behind parents with resolving their cases. The bill would authorize $5 million in 2015 and 2016 to train officials in other countries about abductions.

     

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    CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TEXT OF LEGISLATION

     

    Miscellaneous

  • Menendez, Corker Introduce International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act
  • Goldmans recognized at 2014 NCMEC Hope Awards

    The Bring Sean Home Foundation is pleased to announce that co-founder and director David Goldman and his son, Sean Goldman, were honored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at the 2014 NCMEC Hope Awards on Tuesday, May 6.

    The Hope Awards is an annual celebration held in Washington, D.C. to remember missing children and help inspire hope for searching families. At this event, the NCMEC recognizes the courage of survivors and the contributions of individuals whose efforts have helped to make the world a safer place for children. The awards are presented each May in honor of National Missing Children’s Day.

    This year a total of ten survivors and individual contributors were recognized. In addition to the Goldmans, honorees included:

  • Amanda Berry and Georgina DeJesus, Cleveland kidnapping survivors
  • Dan and Tanya Snyder, Washington Redskins
  • Meredith Vieira, broadcast journalist
  • Raymond W. Kelly, former NYPD Commissioner
  • Temar Boggs and Chris Garcia, heroic teenagers
  •  

    Please join us in congratulating all the honorees for this tremendous and well deserved recognition.

     

    PICTURED: Meredith Vieira and the Goldman family, Wendy, David, and Sean, at the 2014 NCMEC Hope Awards Dinner.


     

    National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Hope Awards

    By David Goldman, APP.com

     

    This Christmas Eve marks the fourth anniversary of my personal miracle when, after six tortured years trying to secure his return, my abducted son was finally returned from Brazil. Thankfully, today, Sean is home and thriving in New Jersey. An active 13-year old, he loves fishing, basketball and spending time with his family and friends. After being abducted abroad and alienated from his life and loved ones, Sean’s re-acclimation to life in America is a testament to the resiliency of children.

    Sadly, most of the children abducted from our country by a parent never come home. The level of despair these families suffer is unimaginable. Fighting for the return of their children becomes an all-consuming and never-ending battle, often draining them emotionally and financially.

    That is why I co-founded the Bring Sean Home Foundation (BSHF), a non-profit dedicated to the cause of bringing abducted children home.

    But private efforts are not enough. Child abduction is child abuse and must be treated as a serious human rights violation by the U.S. government. Our country must use its moral, legal, and diplomatic authority to bring abducted American children home. But that is not what is happening today.

    Our government rarely takes a strong stand on the issue of child abduction the way it did for Sean and me. Sean’s return four years ago gave the community of left-behind families a renewed sense of hope that finally, our government was getting serious about the tragic issue of international child abduction. I am disappointed today that so little has changed. Rather than advocate, our government plays the role of intermediary and at best, merely assists in the processing of paperwork. Too often, the desire to maintain harmonious bilateral relations with other countries trumps human rights issues like child abduction.

    The U.S. government, despite pronouncements that this is an issue of deep concern, does precious little to assist in seeing that abducted children are brought home swiftly, if at all.

    What’s missing is a strong and clear message from our country’s leaders demanding these abducted American children be returned home to their left-behind families with a threat of consequences for refusal to do so.

    To give left-behind families and their abducted children the support they need, Congress — in a remarkable example of bipartisan cooperation — passed on Dec. 11 The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (H.R. 3212) by a vote of 398 to 0.

    The bill’s author, Rep. Chris Smith, has been steadfast in his support of victims of international child abduction. The unanimous showing of support for this legislation should be the catalyst for swift passage of the bill in the U.S. Senate, where it awaits consideration in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen. Robert Menendez.

    The law would make child abduction a nation-to-nation issue rather than requiring parents to confront complicated and often corrupt, foreign judicial systems on their own. It would provide real sanctions and real consequences to countries that, flagrantly and repeatedly, refuse to return abducted American children as required by the treaty they signed.

    To remedy this problem, H.R.3212 lays out a list of escalating consequences for countries which flagrantly defy treaty mandates to return abducted American children.

    It also requires that the State Department report regularly to our elected representatives in the Congress, something that isn’t happening today.

    When passed into law, this legislation will help end the suffering endured by thousands of American families that have been torn apart by international child abduction.

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    CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TEXT OF LEGISLATION

    On December 11, in an overwhelming show of bipartisan support, the House of Representatives voted unanimously (398-0) to pass H.R. 3212: The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013, authored by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ).

    This milestone was more than four years in the making and would not have been attained without Congressman Chris Smith’s hard work and dedication, and that of his entire staff.

    David Goldman, Mark DeAngelis and Melissa Capestro from the Bring Sean Home Foundation (BSHF) traveled to Washington, DC, for the day to lend support and celebrate the passage of the bill in the House. We recognize that there remain several critical steps to be completed before the bill becomes law. It is expected that the U.S. Senate will take up the bill early in 2014. All of us at BSHF remain optimistic that the bill will make its way to President Obama’s desk sometime in the coming year.

    CLICK HERE TO READ CONGRESSMAN SMITH’S FLOOR REMARKS

    PICTURED: David Goldman (Co-Founder, BSHF), Congressman Chris Smith, Missy Capestro (Director, BSHF), Mark DeAngelis (Executive Director, BSHF) — in Washington, District of Columbia.

    Follow the Bring Sean Home Foundation on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BringSeanHome) and view additional photos from the day.

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    Sean and David Goldman abduction bill could be approved this week

    By Susanne Cervenka, APP.com

     

    NEPTUNE — It could be another Christmas surprise for David Goldman, the former Tinton Falls man whose son, Sean, was returned to him on Christmas Eve four years ago.

    This time, the gift would be the passage of a law named for Goldman and his son that would help other families whose children have been kidnapped to foreign countries.

    After three years of negotiations, the “Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act” is headed to the U.S. Senate, where it could be approved as soon as this week, said Rep. Chris Smith, who, along with Goldman, appeared at an editorial board meeting at the Asbury Park Press.

    Smith, R-N.J., said the Senate could take up the bill through unanimous consent, a procedure that would expedite the legislation’s path to President Barack Obama’s desk.

    Smith said he has not heard yet if Obama would sign the bill, but Goldman said Obama was supportive of his mission when he was a senator and intervened soon after becoming president.

    The legislation would set up a series of sanctions against countries that persistently fail to follow either the Hague Abduction Conventions, a 1980 international treaty that bars parents from fleeing to other countries until custody is decided, or similar agreements the United States would make with countries that haven’t signed on to that treaty.

    Sean Goldman, now 13, is the only U.S. child so far to be returned [from Brazil] under the Hague treaty, which is signed by more than 80 countries, but rarely is enforced.

    Children who have come home do so most often because of an agreement reached between both parents, not because of judicial orders by foreign courts, Goldman said.

    The sanctions, which range from the president making a private appeal to suspending or revoking economic aide, are key to the legislation, which Smith said amps up the Hague treaty by putting political pressure on countries that harbor parents. The law also would require the U.S. Department of State, with the parents’ permission, to notify federal lawmakers, who represent left-behind parents, of the abduction so they can put pressure on their diplomatic counterparts.

    “If you don’t have a penalty phase, enforcing a global human rights standard becomes meaningless,” Smith said. “Countries do not sharpen their response and become responsive unless they know there is a potential penalty phase.”

    Sean is in a ‘safe place’

    The bill passed the House with a 398-0 vote, a seemingly impossible feat in the increasingly cantankerous Congress.

    Goldman, however, sees nothing partisan in bringing American children home to settle custody disputes.

    Goldman’s wife, Bruna Bianchi, took Sean, then 4, from New Jersey to Brazil on what Goldman thought was a two-week trip to visit family. Bianchi remarried, then died in childbirth, which set off the high-profile international fight to return Sean home.

    Goldman said cases like his, where the children have been living in the United States before one parent takes them abroad, are often wrongly characterized as international custody cases instead of abduction cases.

    But once abroad, the country harboring the parent abductor treat the case as a straight custodial case, where laws often aren’t the same as the United States.

    Goldman, 47, incurred upwards of $700,000 in debt for legal bills in both countries, plane tickets, extended hotel stays and translation costs in the fight to bring his son home from Brazil.

    This legislation would help reduce the financial damage families face along with emotional turmoil the separation case inflict by speeding up the children’s return to the United States, he said.

    “The quicker the remedy, the less the costs,” said Goldman, who established the Bring Sean Home Foundation to help other families. He has since moved from his Tinton Falls home, but has not said where he is living now. Goldman has remarried.

    Sean has visited with his Brazilian grandmother about three or four times since, at least twice in the past year, he said. Those visits occurred here with Sean’s therapist.

    The focus now has been to give Sean as normal of a childhood as possible, Goldman said.

    Goldman said he keeps a watchful eye on Sean as any parent would, but no longer fears when his son will be home.

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    Senate’s move on Goldman bill

    NJ Editorial/Opinion, APP.com

     

    Given David Goldman’s well-chronicled five-year ordeal to be reunited with his son, who was abducted and taken to Brazil by his mother, it might seem odd to call him lucky.

    But considering how difficult it is for parents whose children were taken from them by a spouse or other family member to another country to succeed in having them returned, he is lucky indeed.

    Despite a 1980 international treaty that prohibits parents from fleeing to other countries until custody is decided, Sean is among a small minority of American children who have been returned under that treaty, the Hague Abduction Conventions, which lacks any enforcement provisions.

    That is why it is essential that the U.S. Senate approve a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., passed unanimously in the House last week, that would allow sanctions to be imposed against countries that show a pattern of illegally harboring abducted children.

    Smith played a major role in raising the national profile of Goldman’s case, and helped set the wheels in motion for Sean’s ultimate return to the United States. The threat of economic sanctions against Brazil also was a contributing factor.

    Sean, now 13, was caught up in a protracted legal battle after his mother took him, at age 4, to Brazil. She remarried, then died in childbirth. Her parents tried to win custody after she died.

    As Smith and Goldman told the Asbury Park Press editorial board on Monday, the bill essentially gives parents who have fought for the return of their children in abduction cases the full backing of the U.S. government. Instead of individuals having to deal with uncooperative countries on their own, the bill makes it a fairer fight.

    The bill not only gives the president a variety of measures he can employ against nations, but provides other tools that can be used to help reduce the number of abductions, now estimated at more than 1,000 a year in the U.S. alone, and to shorten the length of time the cases go unresolved.

    The bill would require the Secretary of State to submit an annual report on the status of abducted children and whether other countries are meeting their obligations to return them. It also would require our diplomatic and consular missions to designate someone to assist American parents whose abducted children are in their country.

    The legislation would set up a series of sanctions against countries that persistently fail to follow either the Hague Abduction Conventions or similar agreements the United States would make with countries that haven’t signed on to that treaty.

    Fittingly, the Smith bill is named the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013. It serves as a tribute to the perseverance and fortitude of the Goldmans, both father and son, and to the tenacity and decency of Smith.

    The Goldman’s saga, which inspired the bill, should now be the inspiration for the Senate to follow the House’s lead in approving it, and for President Barack Obama to sign it into law.

     
     

    CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TEXT OF LEGISLATION

    Tinton Falls’ David Goldman among parents who attended child abduction bill vote

    Tinton Falls case spurred action

    Written by Stephanie Loder, APP.com


     

    WASHINGTON — David Goldman of Tinton Falls was among the parents of American children abducted and wrongfully held at overseas locations who came to Washington Thursday to watch and listen as child abduction and prevention legislation was unanimously approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

    House of Representatives bill 3212, the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013, was written by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees human rights.

    Smith’s bill would order the State Department to make an annual report on the status of children taken from the U.S. and whether countries are meeting their obligations to return them. It also would have to designate officials to help parents and notify Congressional representatives. It also says if the country where the child has been taken refuses to cooperate, the president must take steps such as denying future state visits or cultural and scientific exchanges or cutting various forms of U.S. aid.

    PICTURED: Parents Paul Toland, David Feimster, David Goldman and Barton Hermer listen as the International Child Abduction bill is passed. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. REP. CHRIS SMITH

    Parents such as Goldman of Tinton Falls, whose son was returned only after a five-year battle with Brazilian courts, support the legislation. Goldman’s son Sean was taken to Brazil by his Brazilian mother, Bruna Bianchi, for a two-week vacation in 2004, but she refused to return to the United States, and later filed for divorce from David Goldman. She remarried, but died in 2008. Her family fought to keep Sean in Brazil. Eventually, after work by Smith and the State Department, Sean was returned to his father in 2009.

    “It was David Goldman’s unrelenting effort to bring his son, Sean, home from Brazil that first alerted me to the epidemic of international parental child abduction in this country,” said Smith, who has traveled to Brazil and Japan in efforts to assist left-behind parents. “This bill enjoys strong bipartisan support — almost every member of the House of Representatives has constituents affected by the tragedy of international parental child abduction.”

    David Feimster, of Jackson, who worked with his daughter and Smith’s office in 2011 to bring his grandchildren back from Tunisia to the United States, said he hopes his case gives hope to other left-behind parents who haven’t been as fortunate.

    “We have our children, but many others don’t,” Feimster said. “That’s why I came to Washington today, to support the other families. Some day, some other families’ children will be taken away. It’s extremely difficult for anyone to go through. No parent or grandparent should have to go through this. This bill is definitely what we need to do. It gives parents one more piece to the puzzle.”

    According to the State Department, there were over 4,800 international abduction cases involving more than 7,000 American children between 2008 and 2012.

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    CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TEXT OF LEGISLATION

    David Goldman Receives 2013 Paul H. Chapman Award

    The Bring Sean Home Foundation is very pleased to report that our director and co-founder David Goldman was honored to receive a Paul H. Chapman Award on Saturday, September 28, 2013 from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice.

    A total of six awards were given in 2013 to “recognize innovative and effective works and/or programs whose efforts have made positive influential differences in the Unites States criminal and civil judicial arenas.” Mr. Goldman’s accomplishments were recognized under the categories of Crime Victims’ Rights, Child Protection, and Legal Reform (a detailed description is provided below).

    Please join us in congratulating David for this well deserved recognition.

     

    PICTURED: David Goldman attends the Foundation for Improvement of Justice's 2013 Paul H. Chapman Awards Dinner with his wife, Wendy.


     

    Foundation for Improvement of Justice: 2013 Paul H. Chapman Awards (www.justiceawards.com)

    David Goldman is recognized for his work as a Director and Co-Founder of the Bring Sean Home Foundation whose mission is “to assist victims of international child abduction, educate the public about this issue, prevent further abductions and draw attention to the increasing number of cases that currently exist with the purpose of returning abducted children to their home countries and reuniting them with their left-behind families.” It began with David’s own five and a half year civil fight to return his abducted son to the United States. In May of 2013, after testimony from David Goldman and others, the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013 was introduced by Congressman Chris Smith and has been passed on to the Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill would empower the president with new penalties to inflict on countries that refuse to return American children and eighteen new tools to try to secure their return.

    Mr. Goldman was nominated for this award by Ms. MaLisa McOmber.

     

    Ten left-behind parents awarded financial grants totaling $25,000

     

    The Bring Sean Home Foundation (BSHF) today awarded financial grants totaling $25,000 to ten left-behind parents whose children are victims of international parental child abduction. The grants were made possible by donations received by BSHF from individuals, businesses and charities across the nation.

    As we commemorate International Missing Children’s Day (May 25), BSHF is pleased to be in the position to support victims of international parental child abduction and to distribute funds to left-behind parents who are often financially devastated by the abduction of their children. Government resources to financially assist left-behind families are extremely limited. Left-behind parents are forced to fight expensive legal battles on their own, at home and in the foreign country where their children were taken. The purpose of these grants is to help defray legal and travel-related expenses directly associated with a parent’s efforts to repatriate or visit their abducted children.

    BSHF’s 2013 grant recipients all reside in the United States with children abducted to both Hague Convention and non-Hague countries including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, Egypt, Turkey, and the Dominican Republic.

    “Financial assistance is the number one need for parents whose children have been abducted abroad,” said David Goldman, BSHF Director and Co-founder. “Parents whose children have been internationally abducted face overwhelming obstacles because of efforts by the abductors to break them, both emotionally and financially.”

    Mark DeAngelis, BSHF Executive Director and Co-founder, said, “It is not uncommon for left-behind parents to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting for the rightful return of their abducted children. It is our hope that these grants, while only a fraction of the overall expenses incurred, will help to ease some of the tremendous financial burden felt by these parents.”

    According to the U.S. State Department, more than 7,000 American children have been abducted from the United States in the last five years, with a reported return rate of less than 40 percent.

    The Bring Sean Home Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. To donate to BSHF and help continue the grant program for other left-behind parents, please visit our website at www.BringSeanHome.org. Your support is greatly appreciated.

    ##

    Congressman Smith’s child abduction legislation passes through subcommittee

    By Christopher Robbins, NJ.com

     

    WASHINGTON – A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step – for federal legislation, that first step is usually passage through a congressional subcommittee.

    Legislation on the parental abduction of American children overseas was passed by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th).

    “The damage to the child and the left behind parent is incalculable and too often life-long,” Smith said. “The children especially are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems and may experience anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt and fearfulness. Parental child abduction is child abuse. These victims are American citizens who need the help of their government when normal legal processes are unavailable or fail. Too many families have been waiting too long.”

    Smith introduced the legislation last week before hearing the testimony of ‘left-behind’ parents who remain in the U.S. while their children were abducted overseas. Several New Jersey families testified to the Subcommittee about their kidnapping ordeals and the heartbreak of being separated from their children.

    The legislation, called the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013, will next go to Foreign Affairs Committee.

    The bill is named after David Goldman, of Tinton Falls, and his son Sean, who was abducted to Brazil by his estranged mother for five years only to be returned in [2009]. It would empower the president with new penalties to inflict on countries who refuse to return American children, and 18 new tools to try to secure their return.

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    CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL TEXT OF LEGISLATION


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