The Brazilian family of the American 9-year-old boy Sean Goldman, who returned to the United States five years after being abducted by his mother to Rio, told reporters that it took them almost 48 hours before they got the first news from the child. They came in the form of a text message and a voice message sent from his father’s cell phone.
The text, received on Thursday, Christmas Eve, at 11:47 pm, Rio time, just said: “I arrived.” On Christmas Day, at 11:34 am, Sean left a message on the answering machine saying: “Nona (grandma), I arrived here. I’m well. Kiss and goodbye.”
Commenting on the message, Silvana Bianchi, the boy’s maternal grandmother, informed that Sean’s sounded tearful: “It was subdued. There was no way to know what was going on.”
Silvana complained that she hadn’t been able to talk to the grandson until Sunday: “I’m trying to call David’s cell phone, but I can’t reach him. Either it’s disconnected or it rings and no one answers. I left a message, but got no answer,”
She says she prefers not to speculate on the possibility that David Goldman might be keeping her from talking to her grandson. “I prefer not to judge. Who knows, the phone might have no signal,” she noted.
Bianchi described in gray colors her family’s Christmas party this year and she can’t forgive the ruling by the Supreme Court against her appeal that Sean be heard before being sent back to the US: “We don’t have what to celebrate. I’m nervous, taking medication to calm down. I cry for longing. His sister – Chiara, 1 year and 3 months old – calls for Sean all day long.”
And she added: “Every day that passes I’m getting worse. His sister spends the day calling her brother. She goes to the door of his room and calls him.”
Silvana says she is prepared for a long wait. “His room will stay the way it is. Till he comes back. Of course, we will change a few things later, because things become outdated like clothes, books, television. We’ll redo it all later. But his place will be always there.”
João Paulo Lins e Silva, Sean’s stepfather, informed in an interview with TV show Fantastico that he intends to visit the boy in the United States. “I hope there is no impediment. Sean asked that we didn’t let him go away,” he said adding that in his final days in Brazil the child wouldn’t stop crying: “He said, ‘Dad, don’t let me go.’ The day he left he even vomited. It was very hard to spend Christmas without him,” he noted.
Lins e Silva justified his fight in court to get the boy’s custody by noting that he had participated in more than 60% of Sean’s life, maintaining with him a father-son relationship. He revealed that the child called him father.
David Goldman, according to the lawyer, called just a few times to talk to his son, during all these years and only once made a request to visit Sean. This was right after Bruna Bianchi, the mother of Sean, died while giving birth to Chiara, her daughter with Lins e Silva.
The boy’s stepfather described his Christmas: “Spending Christmas without my son was very hard. I don’t doubt that there will be some way to prevent our contact. I don’t expect anything different. I hope it doesn’t, for the sake of Sean. It was a promise I made, that I would be visiting him all the time.”
The relationship with the mother, the stylist Bruna Bianchi, Lins e Silva revealed, started in Brazil around 2005, and he approached the boy very cautiously:
“We did things very slowly. I was the friend of the mother. Then a June 12, Valentine’s Day, he brought me a gift and said, ‘This here is the gift for my mother’s boyfriend.” He gave it to me and hugged me. It was the first time he saw me kissing Bruna. He was very happy, very moved, it was very nice. After a while, he started calling me dad. It was his idea.”
The stepfather says he could not understand why Goldman kept his distance from the son. “I didn’t really understand why this distance of this biological father in relation to Sean. This father didn’t call. He called two or three times, and less and less, less and less.”
He denied claims made by David Goldman that he was prevented by the Brazilian family to approach the boy: “This never happened, this is not true. It never was. The biological father was in Brazil two or three times during the litigation while Bruna was still alive and made no contact. This request to visit happened once in those 5 years Sean has been in Brazil, once, exactly the week Bruna died.”
The Brazilian family’s lawyer, Sergio Tostes, stated he intended to contact Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to arrange a visit by the grandmother to the U.S.
“The ministry has the obligation to assist Brazilians who are outside the country. I’m not going to talk to the Brazilian embassy in Washington, I will go directly to the ministry.”
Tostes also raised doubts about the authenticity of the picture released by NBC in which Sean appears smiling next to his father inside the plane that took him from Rio to Miami: “A legal expert said there are indications that it is a montage.”
As for the turmoil at the boy’s arrival at the US Consulate in Rio to be handed over to his father, Tostes reiterated that the Brazilian family was not offered a place in the garage of the consulate, to avoid media exposure, as announced by the American authorities.
He said he knew the press would be there, but decided to walk to the Consulate building because the US did not offer any kind of security.
“I was obeying a court order saying that I had to enter through the front door of the consulate, at Avenida Presidente Wilson 147. I said I’d walk, because the media would be present and the consulate did not offer us protection,” he said.
Contrary to statements made before Christmas, Tostes is now saying that Sean’s Brazilian family hasn’t given up getting the boy’s custody. He announced he will file an appeal in the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) against the decision by Rio’s Federal Regional Court (TRF-2), which ordered the handing over of Sean to his father.
“If the higher courts modify the decision of the TRF-2, the family trusts that all measures will be taken by the Brazilian authorities for Sean’s immediate return to Brazil,” the lawyer noted in a written statement.
The lawyer is also waiting a review by the Supreme Court (STF) of the merits of the claim filed by Silvana Bianchi, for Sean to be heard in court. “If the decision is made in favor of his grandmother, a rogatory letter will be sent to the United States, where S. is at the moment, so that he can be heard in court.”