Asbury Park Press
Father Finally Gets to Visit Son in Brazil
by Bill Handelman
February 10, 2009

avid Goldman spent the day with his 8-year-old son Monday. They shot some hoops. They played in the pool. They built a model car. They looked at the pictures Goldman had brought with him, snapshots of a life they once shared.
Sean and David at first visit in over 4 years

“In the beginning Sean was a little shy,” Goldman said on the phone from Rio de Janeiro. “But by the end of the visit, it was great. He’s my son. I love him. That’s all I have for him is love. Ever since he came into this world, I have loved him to death.”

“Seeing him today was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since his birth.”

Goldman had not seen his son in four-and-a-half years. On June 16, 2004, his wife, Bruna, took Sean to Brazil for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation. Once she was there, Bruna Goldman called and told David she was never coming back. If he ever wanted to see his son again, she added, David would have to come to Brazil and sign some papers her lawyer had drawn up.

Bruna Goldman got a divorce in Brazil. In 2007, she married a lawyer from a prominent family, Joao Paulo Lins e Silva. On Aug. 22, 2008, she died eight hours after giving birth to their baby girl.

Goldman, who lives in Tinton Falls, made two more trips to Brazil but was never allowed to see his son. In October, after a Brazilian judge granted him visitation rights, Goldman went to see his son only to find that Lins e Silva had taken him away, thereby violating the court order.

“Given all the obstacles and all the battles with them, you never know what to expect,’”’ Goldman said. “So I was apprehensive. But getting to see my son today, I was elated. He’s my son. I’m his father.”

“This is the best six hours I’ve had in a very, very long time.”

Goldman said he will get to see his son again today.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., was there for the reunion of father and son Monday. He will not be there today; he had to fly back to Washington to vote on some bills.

Smith was with Goldman for the past five days in Brazil. During that time he also spoke with many Brazilian officials.

“We met with members of the Supreme Court, and they were very supportive,” Smith said. “That’s why we’re optimistic.”

I“f the case stays in the state court, it’s an uphill climb. If it goes to federal court, where it belongs, then the argument would be about the Hague Convention. There is a competency to deal with that on the federal level.”

The judge who presided over the custody hearing in Brasilia on Friday, Superior Court Judge Luis Felipe Salomao, could decide where the case ends up as early as Wednesday, Smith was told.

Early Monday, Smith and Goldman went to the condominium complex where Linse Silva has an apartment, where the reunion took place.

The congressman said he and an official from the U.S. Embassy “kept our distance’”’ so as not to interfere with the father and his son.

“On the way over this morning, David was feeling some trepidation about seeing his son after all these years,” Smith reported. “But from the moment they hugged, and as the day wore on, it was obvious that this was as strong as a father-son bond could be.”

“It was really a great day. Today was the day that had to happen. The bond was evident.”

“It makes it all the more stark: The process has to work.”

Meanwhile, it was reported Sunday on NBC’s “Dateline” program that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had become “involved” in Goldman’s case. Two e-mails to State Department staffers requesting information about this involvement had not been answered as of Monday night.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is scheduled to visit President Obama in Washington next month.

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