A June 17, 2009 Op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal accuses Brazil of helping to kidnap American children. Former assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs (1989-93) Bernard Aronson wrote in “Brazil helps kidnap American children”: “In the coming weeks, Brazil will define itself to the United States and to the wider international community by how it treats a 9-year-old boy.”
On September 24, 2008, I blogged about Sean Goldman, who was born and raised in Red Bank, N.J. Sean’s father, David Goldman, is an American father. His former wife was born in Brazil. Almost five years ago to the date, Sean’s mother flew to Brazil with him. She said it was a two-week vacation. Once there, however, she divorced David Goldman and re-married. Her new husband belongs to a powerful family of prominent Brazilian lawyers. Sean’s mother died tragically in childbirth one year ago, and her Brazilian family has used its powerful connections to prevent Sean's return to his biological father.
February 2009 Visit with Sean. David Goldman was allowed to see his son for a brief time in February 2009. This was the first visit in over four years. You can view an emotional interview with Meredith Viera (NBC) here.
May 2009. Order of Return. Last month, a Brazilian federal judge ordered Sean's immediate return to his father. David Goldman flew to Rio de Janeiro for the ruling. The American Bar Associations’ Family Law Listserv cheered this result. Now, however, the judge’s return order has been stayed by a higher federal court judge. It appears that Sean’s return could be prevented for years by a lengthy (and costly) judicial appeals process.
Heartbreaking developments. It was reported today that Sean, who is nine years old, was interviewed by a psychologist and said that he does not want to return home to New Jersey and his father, David Goldman. You may read a translated version of the interview here.
Under normal circumstances, Sean’s custody would have been resolved in the state and county where he had resided with both parents in the United States. Both the U.S. and Brazil are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction [“Hague Convention”]. This treaty is supposed to ensure that custody battles are waged in the country of the child’s his “habitual residence.” It is intended to block a parent from forum-shopping—choosing a more favorable court venue in another country to contest for custody. The treaty compels the country to which the child or children have been taken to return them within six weeks.
Brazil's appalling record of non-compliance. Sad to say, even though the U.S. has regularly complied with the treaty and returned abducted Brazilian children, Brazil has never returned any of the 66 American children abducted from the U.S. to Brazil. Brazil has repeatedly been cited by the U.S. State Department for violating its treaty obligations. See my Blog article of last week about international parental kidnapping and the cited April 2008 report by the State Department’s Office of Children's Issues "Report on Compliance with Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Abduction Convention." Honduras is the only country other than Brazil with a worse record of non-compliance.
Needless to say, Brazil’s intransigence on the issue of return of kidnapped children puts a strain on U.S. / Brazilian relations. Brazil is the fifth most populous country in the world. It is increasingly a respected global leader in economics, energy, peace-keeping and arms control. However, Brazil’s continuing dereliction of its responsibilities under the Hague Convention should not be condoned.
We need to stand up and say: “Let Sean Goldman go home.”
You may read Mr. Aronson’s Op-ed piece here. “Brazil helps kidnap American children”
My earlier Blog article about countries that are non-compliant or demonstrating patterns of non-compliance with the Hague Convention may be reviewed here.
The U.S. Department of State's Children’s Issues Office 2008 memo about non-compliance may be accessed here.
Signatory countries to the Hague Convention are found here.
See also, my parental kidnapping web site here.