Sean Goldman (l.), 8, had been living in Brazil since his mother moved him there in 2004. His father, David (r.), was awarded custody of his son by a Brazilian federal court and they are headed back to New Jersey.
Sean was taken to Brazil by his Brazilian-born mother in 2004 for ostensibly a short vacation. She decided to stay. The mother divorced the father and re-married in Brazil. She died in childbirth last year.
A battle has raged in the courts. Sean has been living with his stepfather and his mother's family during all these years. It was a seesaw struggle as courts ruled for and against Goldman and the Brazilian relatives fought to keep the boy with them.
The big break came this week when the Chief Justice of Brazil ruled that the boy had to be returned by the Brazilian relatives to his American father.
In the meantime the father's quest to bring back his son to Tinton Falls, New Jersey became an international issue. President Obama and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva discussed the situation and, last week, a U.S. senator blocked renewal of a $2.75 billion trade deal that would lift U.S. tariffs on some Brazilian goods.
It may well be that the troubles of Goldman and his son are not over. It would seem likely that, after spending five years of his childhood in Brazil, young Sean has made attachments and has memories that can hardly be erased.
Writer Alan Valentine once wrote: "For thousands of years, father and son have stretched wistful hands across the canyon of time, each eager to help the other to his side and neither quite able to desert the loyalties of his contemporaries. The relationship is always changing and hence always fragile. Nothing endures except the sense of difference."
The Goldmans have come to the end of a rough road but a rougher road may lie ahead. We can hope that, for the good of the child, the father shows more understanding of the emotions and welfare of Sean than his obviously troubled mother did.
At this tender time on the calendar we can only wish father and son and all of the Brazilian relatives well. May the love they share for Sean conquer all the bitterness and bring understanding and a new era of good feeling for all.