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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    Share

    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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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    On Thursday, May 9, David Goldman traveled to Washington, DC, to testify before the U.S. Congressional Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. The topic of the hearing, the fourth at which Goldman has testified, was “Resolving International Parental Child Abductions to Non-Hague Convention Countries.” The press release below, from the office of Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, summarizes the day’s events.

    PICTURED: David Goldman discusses open international parental child abduction cases with Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor to the Secretary for Children’s Issues, and other Office of Children's Issues staff members.

    For more updates and to view additional photos from the event, be sure to follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BringSeanHome).

     
     

    Press Release of U.S. Congressman Chris Smith

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact Jeff Sagnip 202-225-3765

     

    The Heartbreak of Int’l Child Abductions of American Children

     

    ‘Left-Behind’ parents, State Dept. testify before Congress; Focus on lack of effective U.S. child abduction policy, need for new strategies to bring U.S. kids home

     

    WASHINGTON, May 9

    “The damage to the child and the left behind parent is incalculable and too often life-long,” said Smith. “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. These victims are American citizens who need the help of their government when normal legal processes are unavailable or fail.” Click here to read Chairman Smith’s full statement.

    International parental child abduction occurs when one parent unlawfully moves a child from his or her country of residence, often for the purpose of denying the other parent access to the child.

    Testifying before the subcommittee were Iraqi War veteran Marine Sgt. Mike Elias, David Goldman, who is one of the few Americans to retrieve their child after an international abduction to Brazil, and other “left behind” parents of American children abducted to India, Japan, Egypt and Brazil (just a few of the thousands of U.S. children held wrongfully overseas). Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. State Department also spoke at the hearing entitled “Resolving International Parental Child Abductions to Non-Hague Convention Countries” held before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations chaired by Smith.

    “I cannot think of anything more important than the fate of our children,” an emotional Elias told the congressional panel. “What about all the American citizens who have been ripped from their homes in this country against their will. What about MY children? I don’t know how to pick up the pieces and move on. My ‘pieces’ are in Japan! A country that has knowingly aided and abetted the abduction of children from all over the world. A country that refused to prosecute my wife for crimes that are recognized worldwide as fundamental human rights violations.”

    Also testifying were Patricia Apy, attorney specializing in international abduction cases, Paras, Apy & Reiss, P.C., and Colin Bower, of Boston, Mass., father of children abducted to Egypt. (Click here to read their and all the testimonies or watch a video of the hearing.)

    “I must be reunited with my children and I need the help of our honorable Congress to do so,” said a determined Bindu Phillips, of Plainsboro, N.J., mother of two children abducted to India. “The stress under which I have labored the last 4 years has been almost unbearable at times, but I have continued on in the sole hope of being reunited with my children—from whom I never spent a day apart from prior to their father’s kidnapping of them in December of 2008 in India. I have put everything I have into my mission to be reunited with my children.”

    In 1983, the United States ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to try to address parental abductions via a civil framework that provided for the quick return of abducted children, and access rights to both parents. Under the convention a child is supposed to be returned within six weeks to their country for the courts there to determine custody, however most are not returned and most cases drag on for years. Even in countries where the Convention is said to be enforced, only about 40 percent of children are returned.

    Ambassador Jacobs said Secretary John Kerry—who is closely familiar with the Bowen case—demonstrated his concern regarding international parental child abduction by extending my tenure as the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Special Advisor for Children’s Issues to ensure high-level attention stays focused on this important topic.

    “Secretary Kerry, one of the leading advocates for combating international parental child abduction during his time in the U.S. Senate, has now brought his passion and foreign affairs experience to bear as our Secretary,” Jacobs said, also promising to explore all avenues, including memorandums of understanding to have a established governmental framework to address abductions and bring U.S. children home.

    Goldman told the subcommittee that what left behind parents often fail to realize is that it is not incompetence or ignorance that leads to the mishandling of abduction cases, but rather a failure to enforce policy. He cited lack of progress by the State Department in addressing child abductions.

    “What is required at the State Department is a complete culture change,” Goldman said. “Nothing short of being extremely bold and principled is going to do much to change the status quo and the corresponding playbook for handling international child abduction cases. Left-behind parents, especially ones whose children have been abducted more recently, often make the mistake of thinking that the State Department is competently handling their cases and that countries routinely return children as expected.”

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    Press Release of U.S. Congressman Chris Smith

    http://chrissmith.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=333310

     

    CLICK HERE TO VIEW WITNESS TESTIMONIES AND ARCHIVE VIDEOS

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    Sean & David Goldman Act, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith, passes House subcommittee

     

    April 27, 2012
    BY KRISTEN DALTON
    Greater Media Newspapers
    Staff Writer

    There wasn’t a dry eye in the room after the 15-minute video chronicled David Goldman’s five-year struggle to get his son Sean back in his arms after a tumultuous and highly publicized international child-abduction case.

    Goldman shared his story with about 50 people on March 29 at Chelsea Senior Living in Tinton Falls, the same place that displayed “Welcome Home Sean” on an outdoor sign when the then-9-year-old returned to his father on Dec. 24, 2009.

    “[It’s an opportunity] to strike while the iron is hot, to keep the light shining on the issue, absolutely,” said Goldman, whose struggle to regain custody of his son ended when Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court ruled against Sean’s Brazilian relatives and ordered that he be reunited with his father.

    “We realized there are many thousands of other children and families in similar, not exact — because every case is a little different — but similar situations as mine and Sean’s. It’s just incredible that it continues and it’s getting worse,” Goldman said.

    During the struggle to regain custody of his son, Goldman and a few friends founded BringSeanHome.org, a website that helps the thousands of families that are dealing with international child abductions.

    According to the U.S. State Department, more than 3,200 new international parental child-abduction cases, involving more than 4,700 children, were reported between October 2008 and December 2010.

    “I know what it’s like and my family knows what it’s like. Not only does it crush the parent, not only was I emotionally, mentally, physically, financially devastated, my family was,” said Goldman, who spent upward of $700,000 and went on 16 last-minute trips to appear before Brazilian courts.

    “We need to help them [families]. Their voices, as mine did for so long, seem to just be falling on deaf ears, and if we can be the one voice, if we can be that voice to help them, we will do whatever we can to help them.”

    Just two days prior to Goldman’s speaking at the Chelsea, the House Congressional Human Rights Subcommittee unanimously passed bill H.R. 1940, which was named the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction, Prevention and Return Act.

    The bill is designed to empower the U.S. State Department with more tools necessary to bring home children who have been abducted from the country, as well as to enforce the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International ChildAbduction.

    The convention establishes the legal framework between the United States and 68 partnering countries, including Brazil, for recovering children wrongfully removed from their habitual residence and detained in another country. “Too many families have been waiting too long for the return of their children. Our current system with its endless delays and lack of proper accountability has failed too many. It is time for an approach that backs our demands with penalties and makes very clear to foes and friends alike that our children are our top priority,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R- 4th District), chairman of the subcommittee, in a March 27 press release.

    Smith, who was the lead advocate in Goldman’s fight to bring Sean home, said that the bill “will put teeth into the U.S. government efforts to reclaim abducted American children.”

    Goldman applauded Smith’s efforts, calling them the first of many steps that need to be taken to properly address the growing issue of international parental child abduction.

    “We cannot keep allowing these countries to hold our American children, violating all laws, moral law even, without holding them accountable. More often than not, if they see what’s coming down the pike, they’ll return the children if they know they’re not going to be issued the number of visas they want, or we’re not going to be funding joint scientific projects, or we’re not going to give them tons of aid,” he said.

    The website BringSeanHome.org now serves as a go-to place that provides information, resources, and may soon provide financial assistance through a grant program, for families suffering a similar fate.

    Mark DeAngelis, one of the five volunteer directors of the Bring Sean Home Foundation, said there’s a very tough job ahead for the organization, which raises awareness about international child abduction and aims to prevent future abductions.

    “[A]s David knows, [parents’] heads are spinning, their worlds have been turned upside down, and yet they believe that there’s an advocate in their government to help them with these children. Sadly, it really could not be further from the truth,” DeAngelis told the crowd.

    “You end up caught in this bureaucratic maze of the State Department where you realize there is no advocacy. The word advocacy does not exist; you are basically just a statistic on paper.”

    According to DeAngelis, the typical procedure involves nothing more than the processing of the case, which ensures a day in court in the foreign country where the child has been taken.

    “The sad part is the department within our government that is responsible for working with these cases and trying to bring these children home is completely ineffective. They’re nice people, they’re caring people, they want to help, they just don’t have the ability to do so, they don’t have the tools they need to do so, and that’s part of the reason we need this legislation” said DeAngelis.

    “We have a lot of work ahead of us. This is not an easy issue to advocate for. Things happen very slowly down in Washington, and legislation takes years to make its way through.”

    Because Sean’s and David’s names have been attached to the bill, Goldman hopes it will gain recognition among people who have heard of their case.

    “Someone sees the title of that piece of legislation and they get it, and they know how painful it is and how long and how arduous the battle is and how wrong it is,” he said.

    “The whole entire thing was just a searing, burning pain right through me that never would go away.”

    Looking back, Goldman said not once did he ever think about giving up on his son, despite facing overwhelming and heartbreaking odds of getting him back.

    “Knowing that everything was black and white, that he should be home according to any law, and to have to fight and miss so much of— I missed his birthdays, I missed his first tooth falling out, some of his first words and going to school on the school bus. I missed every day just waking up and fixing him breakfast,” he said.

    But now his son is 11 years old, and Goldman was able to help him get ready for his first Little League baseball scrimmage that evening. Sean will be turning 12 on May 25, which coincidentally, is the day that was declared as National Missing Children’s Day by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

    For more information about the Bring Sean Home Foundation, visit www.BringSeanHome.org. The organization will be having a golf-outing fundraiser at the Pine Barrens Golf Club in Jackson on June 25.

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    On Tuesday, March 27, David Goldman and a group of volunteers from the Bring Sean Home Foundation (BSHF) traveled to Washington DC for the day to lend support to a piece of legislation aimed at preventing international child abduction and providing for tough measures against countries which fail to meet their international human rights obligations to return abducted American children. The press release below from the office of Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey summarizes the day’s events. There is now a meaningful and realistic chance that this bill becomes law one day. Thank you to everyone for all of your support along the way. We still have a ways to go, but the significance of yesterday’s accomplishment is worth celebrating.

    BACK ROW: Matt DeAngelis (Director, BSHF), Mark DeAngelis (Executive Director, BSHF), Congressman Chris Smith, David Goldman (Co-Founder, BSHF) FRONT ROW: Missy Capestro (Director, BSHF), Bernie Aronson (Former Assistant Secretary of State, Western Hemisphere) — in Washington, District of Columbia.

    You can also follow the Bring Sean Home Foundation on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/BringSeanHome) and view photos from the event.

    Bill to Help Bring U.S. Kids Home Approved by Panel
    http://chrissmith.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=287389

    WASHINGTON, March 27 – With David Goldman and other left behind parents from around the country at a congressional mark-up Tuesday, a bill designed to empower the U.S. State Department with more tools to achieve the return of children abducted from the U.S. and to enforce the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was approved by Members of the House panel that oversees human rights.

    Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the House congressional human rights subcommittee, saw his bill, H.R. 1940, now named the “Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction, Prevention and Return Act” lauded by the panel members as a way to help bring thousands of American children who are victims of international parental child abduction, back home. According to the U.S. State Department, over 3,200 new international parental child abduction cases involving over 4,700 children were reported from October 2008 to December 2010.

    “Parental child abduction is child abuse,” Smith said. “Too many families have been waiting too long for the return of their children. Our current system with its endless delays and lack of proper accountability has failed too many. It is time for an approach that backs our demands with penalties and makes very clear to foes and friends alike that our children are our top priority.” Click here to read Chairman Smith’s opening remarks, which spell out 17 presidential actions the bill provides to help recover U.S. children.

    Smith said the bill, approved by unanimous consent, “will put teeth into U.S. government efforts to reclaim abducted American children by giving the President important tools that motivate other countries to more quickly respond to efforts to return an abducted child.”

    At the mark-up were left behind parents and family members, including Goldman of Monmouth County, N.J., father of Sean Goldman who was abducted to Brazil. Goldman was engaged in a widely-publicized, grueling, five-year battle to see his son again and bring him home on Dec. 24, 2009. Unfortunately many ‘left-behind’ parents, unlike Goldman, have never seen their children again after the abduction.

    Left behind parents Chris Savoie, Paul Toland and Douglas Berg all offered their personal painful experiences at the proceeding, as did a left-behind grandparent of two New Jersey abducted children, Nancy Elias. All spoke with reporters prior to the mark-up. Seated next to Goldman and the other left behind parents at the hearing was NBC Dateline journalist Meredith Vieira, who helped bring critical attention to Goldman’s case.

    “H.R. 1940 as amended is also for the left behind parents and bereaved children who have been taken to countries that are not party to the Hague Abduction Convention,” Smith said. “Parents like Michael Elias, a combat-injured Iraqi veteran from New Jersey, whose ex-wife used her Japanese consulate connections to abduct little Jade and Michael Jr., after the New Jersey court had ordered surrender of passports and joint custody.

    Smith said H.R. 1940 directs the President to take measured, effective, and predictable actions to aggressively advocate for our children’s return. Such actions range from denial of certain assistance to prohibiting the procurement of certain goods or services from the government or instrumentality responsible for the pattern of noncooperation.

    “I hope that it will not be necessary to use the penalties provided in this bill,” Smith said. “In the best case scenario, just the possibility of adverse consequences will motivate the resolution of current open cases of international child abduction, and prevent additional cases from happening in the first place. If parents have no place to hide, they are less likely to run with the children.

    All of the subcommittee Members attended the mark-up and all supported Smith’s legislation. Speaking in strong favor of passage were Ranking Democrat Rep. Karen Bass (CA-33), Vice Chairman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), Tom Marino (PA-10), Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) and Robert Turner (NY-09).

    “We must act quickly and decisively to raise international awareness of the gravity of parental child abduction and galvanize the will of the international community to stop it,” Smith said. “This Subcommittee’s approval of this bill is a first step to achieving these goals.”

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    PORTWASHINGTONPATCH.COM by ADINA GENN

    David Goldman, the New Jersey father who spent five-and-a-half years fighting to reunite with his son Sean, spoke to nearly 200 mental health professionals at the Port Washington Yacht Club on Friday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 5.

    At age four, young Sean was taken to Brazil by his mother Bruna, who later informed David Goldman that both she and the boy were staying in Brazil, her country of origin.

    David Goldman had the support of the Hague Convention, whose multilateral treaty strives to “protect children from abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.” Still in his struggle, he fought the Brazilian courts, even after Burna died tragically in childbirth, as Sean’s stepfather and grandparents aimed to keep the boy there.

    Ultimately, with the backing of high-level government officials from Rep. Christopher Smith to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, in 2009, David Goldman brought his son back to New Jersey, where they have lived together ever since.

    Other parents, he told the audience, are not so fortunate.

    “The complications – mentally, emotionally, physically and financially are very, very taxing,” David Goldman said. “Many just have to give up. They finish their days with a big piece of their soul missing, not knowing if they will ever see their child.”

    Goldman is working to help return internationally abducted children though the Bring Sean Home Foundation.

    Goldman, the author of “A Father’s Love, One Man’s Unrelenting Battle to Bring His Abducted Son Home” (Viking, 2011), was in Port Washington as the guest of the Great Neck law firm, Wisselman, Harounian & Associates. The firm has put together legal workshops for mental health professionals since 2003.

    David Goldman

    Mark DeAngelis – Bring Sean Home Foundation

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