I finally decided that I had to speak out about how I really feel about this incredible book. My thoughts:
I've just finished reading David Goldman's recently released book about the successful return of his son, Sean, from Brazil--an effort that took nearly 5 1/2 years. Titled, "A Father's Love: One Man's Unrelenting Battle to Bring His Abducted Son Home," the memoir shares Goldman's heart-wrenching and inspiring story of his relentless and determined efforts to recover Sean after the child's abduction by his mother in 2004. I read this compelling story in one sitting. It was simply not a book I could lay down.
Goldman took swift legal action to attempt recovery of Sean. He obtained a court order in New Jersey giving him temporary custody and then filed an action under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Parental Abduction seeking Sean's return. In 2004, Brazil had 66 American children who had been kidnapped by a parent. Brazil, although a signatory to the Hague Convention since 2000, had never returned a child to the U.S.
Goldman soon learned that he was up against formidable opponents. When Bruna died in childbirth (having married a Brazilian lawyer despite the fact that she'd never obtained a U.S. divorce), David thought that surely Sean would be returned to him. In fact, Brazil's law in that regard is the same as that in the U.S. The surviving parent's right to custody of the child trumps the rights of any third parties. The legal maneuverings and political connections of the people Goldman calls "the abductors" and "the kidnappers" were extraordinary.
Goldman finally received support in what became an international controversy that eventually reached the highest levels of the U.S. and Brazilian governments. However, this father's unwavering love kept him going despite threats to his life, unbelievable legal fees and other costs for the many fruitless trips to Brazil. He was fortunate to have the assistance of good friends (both new and old) and some pretty amazing people who rallied around and brought political and economic pressure to bear upon Brazil. After Bruna's death, when the ruthlessness of the "second kidnappers" was exposed, many public figures and elected officials helped David obtain the media exposure and legislative assistance that was surely a key part of the solution.
In particular, David was assisted in this complicated case by attorney Patricia Apy of Paras, Apy & Reiss, P.C. of Red Bank, New Jersey and also by attorney Ricardo Zamariola in Brazil. Although I am a family lawyer who has done more than my share of parental abductions, both interstate and international, I am really quite awed by all that these two lawyers, and their partners and assistants, were able to do for David and Sean Goldman. After Bruna died, by the law of both lands, Sean should have been returned to his biological father but he was not. These hard-working and talented lawyers and many elected political figures brought pressure to bear in very persuasive ways to obtain Sean's return to his father and to his homeland / place of habitual residence. Others, State Department Hague Authority and consular personnel also assisted in many ways. I could list those many important people, but you will learn their identities when you read this wonderful book.
This is an extremely well-written book in which Goldman exposes legal machinations, peculiar ironies, and the compelling emotional elements involved in every step of his journey to bring Sean home. All the while Goldman keeps, as he did throughout the frustrating court appearances in Brazil, a solemn face and refuses to stoop to the level of the Brazilian family. He does not lose his composure.
Goldman continues to help other left-behind parents in their efforts to recover their own abducted children, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to www.bringseanhome.org, which continues today to focus the Bring Sean Home Foundation's efforts on behalf of abducted children around the world.
In case you missed it, you may also see the very moving Dateline interview in May 2011 of David Goldman by Meredith Vieira here.
See also here at BringSeanHome.org, a press release about testimony of David Goldman, Patricia Apy and others David Goldman on international child abduction before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, 24 May 2011, including a letter signed by left-behind parents and family members of 117 American children abducted to, and retained, in 25 countries around the world.