By Art Gallagher
This time of year thousands of New Jersey families, millions throughout the nation, are celebrating a major milestone in the lives of their teen aged children as they graduate from high school.
Twice this week, Sean Goldman’s graduation from Holmdel High School was described to me as a miracle.
It’s not that Sean overcame a disability or extreme hardship–miracles that should be celebrated. Sean was abducted by his mother, Bruna Bianchi, 14 years ago and taken to Brazil. Bianchi took Sean on what she said was a two week vacation to visit her family in Brazil, but once there, she divorced Sean’s father, David Goldman, and kept the four year old boy from his father. A Brazilian Court granted Bianchi a divorce. A New Jersey Court granted David custody of his son.
When Bianchi died during childbirth four years later, the international child custody case should have been over, under the terms of the Hague Convention which grants custody to a surviving biological parent. But Sean’s maternal grandparents and step-father used their wealth and political influence to thwart—temporarily as it turned out–David’s unrelenting commitment to raise his son.
With the help of the news media–David especially credits NBC’s Today Show and Dateline– and a relentless congressman, Rep Chris Smith, who David calls “a bulldog,” the Goldmans were reunited on Christmas eve of 2009 and began the healing process while David continued to fight off international litigation by Sean’s Brazilian relatives.
Now despite being the namesake of landmark legislation to combat international child abduction, the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, Sean is “a normal 18 year old kid,” David said in a phone interview this afternoon. “He’s out fishing with his buddies.”
David runs a fishing charter boat out of Highlands in the spring and Pt. Pleasant in the summer. For the time being, Sean seems to be following in his father’s footsteps, working as a dock hand at a local marina this summer, before continuing his education at Brookdale Community College, where he took honors courses during high school, in the fall.
“Congratulations to Sean and David,” Congressman Smith said in a statement to MMM. “Nearly a decade ago such a joyous occasion seemed unlikely as the abduction had father and son separated on two continents. Both David and Sean are amazing!”
Congressman Smith continues to fight to reunite abducted American children with their families. In the video below Smith can be seen conducting an oversight hearing on April 11, 2018, during which he calls upon State Department personnel to enforce the Goldman Act, particularly against Japan, Brazil and India…countries that are not yet cooperating with the legal return of thousands of American children to their families.