The New Jersey man who brought his son home to the United States from Brazil after winning a bitter custody battle said yesterday that he was thrilled they had been reunited but was still waiting to be called "Dad."
"I said, 'You can call me Dad,' " David Goldman told NBC's Today show, days after returning to this country with his son, Sean, 9. "And he didn't say anything."
Goldman, of Tinton Falls, in Monmouth County, brought Sean back on Christmas Eve after a five-year international custody dispute. The boy's mother, Bruna Bianchi, took Sean to her native Brazil in 2004, divorced Goldman, and remarried. Goldman began legal efforts to get his son back.
After Bianchi died last year in childbirth, her husband, Paulo Lins e Silva, continued the legal fight and won temporary custody. A ruling last week by Brazil's chief justice cleared the way for the boy's return.
NBC paid for Goldman's charter plane from Rio de Janeiro back to the United States. Father and son have been staying with relatives in Orlando, Fla.
Goldman has not said when he'll bring Sean home to Tinton Falls. He says the boy is happy to be with him but needs time to adjust.
"I missed five previous years of my son's life," Goldman said. "That's a big scar. Now we're together, and we'll heal."
Goldman said he was looking forward to taking his son canoeing, something Sean enjoyed when he was younger.
He said the boy remembered a bit about his life in New Jersey and had asked whether his bedroom had been changed. When Goldman told him it had been left as it was when the boy was 4, Sean rolled his eyes at the thought of staying in a little kid's room. Goldman said they would redo it together.
Goldman's lawyer, Patricia Apy, says details still need to be worked out for conditions of visitation for the boy's family in Brazil. Goldman said he did not want to deny them access to the boy the way they had kept him away.
There could also be legislation to address other international abduction cases.
Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.), who traveled to Brazil with Goldman several times, is pushing a bill that would allow the United States to impose sanctions on countries that do not comply with an international treaty on how to handle similar abduction cases. Officials say there are about 2,800 such cases worldwide involving children from the United States.