- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2011

RED BANK, N.J. | Sixteen months after 9-year-old Sean Goldman was led through a crush of journalists and onlookers on a Rio de Janeiro street to be handed over to his father - completing a five-year ordeal that sparked tension in U.S.-Brazil diplomacy - he has a new life as a fifth-grader and youth baseball player in New Jersey.

And his father, a former model and current fishing boat charter captain and real estate agent, has moved from fighting in Brazil’s courts for his son’s return to becoming a prominent advocate for the greater international cause: trying to get children abducted to another country by one parent reunited with the parent left behind.

David Goldman’s memoir about the saga, “A Father’s Love,” was released this month by Viking. With the publication of the book, he’s given his first extensive media interviews since shortly after Sean was returned to him.

“It’s really incredible,” Mr. Goldman said in an interview in a cafe in Red Bank, not far from his home in Tinton Falls. “It’s perfect. From what it was to where we are, it’s beautiful.”

Mr. Goldman said he knew that it was legally right for his son to return to him and that he’d do his best as a father. But he figured that the boy would want to go back to Brazil, where he’d spent more than half his life. But so far, Mr. Goldman said, Sean hasn’t asked to return, even for a visit.

The story began in 2004 when Mr. Goldman’s wife, Bruna Bianchi, took Sean, then 4, to her native Brazil for what David believed would be a two-week visit.

But once in Brazil she called home: She was staying, and so was the child.

One of the mysteries left unsolved by Mr. Goldman’s book is exactly why she left and how long she may have been planning the departure.

He said in an interview that’s because he doesn’t know the answer. It seems clear to him that she had planned to leave him; she took nearly all her clothes and didn’t leave behind the spare key to her parents’ New Jersey condo.

Mr. Goldman began trying to use the Hague Convention dealing with child abductions to try to get Sean back. The international treaty, of which the U.S. and Brazil are signatories, seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made by the courts in the country where a child originally lived - in this case, the United States. For years, on Mr. Goldman’s trips to Brazil to try to enforce his rights, he wasn’t even granted visits with the boy.

The tale took a tragic twist in 2008: Bianchi died while giving birth to a baby by her new husband in Brazil.

It was after that that Mr. Goldman’s story began getting the attention of the media.

Bianchi’s death and Mr. Goldman’s continuing legal fight made the case perhaps a more compelling drama - but it’s hardly a unique situation. Advocates say there are some 3,000 abducted U.S. children currently in other countries.

The television accounts of Mr. Goldman’s plight got the attention of officials who had the power to do something about it.

It wasn’t until after U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith, a New Jersey Republican, traveled to Brazil with Mr. Goldman, and President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke with their counterparts in Brazil that Sean was returned - over the steadfast objections in court of his stepfather and maternal grandparents in Brazil.

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