Remember the five-year custody battle a brave New Jersey dad, David Goldman, fought against powerful Brazilian government and judicial officials and against equally powerful and influential Brazilian individuals?
It all started on June 16, 2004, when David Goldman said goodbye to his four-year-old son, Sean, at Newark Airport. He didn't know it at the time but his wife, Bruna, and her parents Silvana Bianchi Ribeiro and Raimundo Ribeiro were in the process of abducting Sean and taking him to Brazil with no intention of ever returning, according to the blog BringSeanHome.org
It all ended on Christmas Eve 2009 when it was "wheels-up" for the NBC News charter aircraft taking off from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finally bringing David Goldman and his son back home to the United States of America.
These two events were the bookends to more than five years of relentless, heartbreaking fighting by a father -- replete with dashed hopes and disappointments -- against both the Brazilian judicial system and against two very powerful and influential families in Brazil that did everything they could, used every judge and court they could, to prevent Sean from being reunited with his father.
After Sean was safely home, in January 2010, I wrote:
It was a monumental battle against a powerful, affluent, politically well-connected Brazilian family and against a less than just Brazilian justice system--a battle of classic David vs. Goliath proportions. But, while David Goldman was certainly the indefatigable fighter, the relentless warrior, the modern day Don Quixote and the ultimate champion for what is right--and for what is his--I will not call him a hero.
I will not call him a hero, for David Goldman is much more than that. He is a man doing what any father who dearly loves his young son would do.
While there were many others who contributed to this tragedy's happy ending, including President Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, David's lawyers, NBC, and the millions of supporters, the real hero in this long and hard fight was, in my opinion, New Jersey Congressman Christopher Smith, a Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In addition to being instrumental in Sean's return, Congressman Smith has for more than a year been pushing in Congress the "Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013," a bill that, as Smith has said, "will put teeth into U.S. government efforts to reclaim abducted American children by giving the President important tools that motivate other countries to more quickly respond to efforts to return an abducted child."
That bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations on June 14 of this year and cannot be passed and enacted soon enough.
I say that because another potential child abduction case may be brewing in Brazil.
The AP reports that police in Brazil have seized passports belonging to Massachusetts mother Shauna Hadden and her 6-year old daughter, Ava, "stranding them in South America for about a month amid an international custody dispute with the child's father."
According to AP's Bridget Murphy:
Thirty-three-year-old Shauna Hadden and her daughter, Ava Machado, have been in Brazil since late May, when they began a trip Hadden said was intended to connect the girl with the father she hadn't seen in more than three years.
Hadden's mother, Linda, said Friday the pair had already arrived in Rio de Janeiro on her way to visit Ava's father, 32-year-old Donizete Machado, when her daughter received a phone call from a mutual friend warning her that Machado planned to keep the girl.
Instead of taking a flight to southern Brazil to meet Machado, Shauna Hadden and her daughter flew north to stay with friends in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, Linda Hadden said.
Then federal police seized Shauna Hadden's passport along with her daughter's in early June.
A lawyer for Machado confirms that the passports were confiscated following a request by the girl's father but denies he wants custody of the girl, whom Hadden has had full custody of since the couple split in 2009, according to the AP.
As did David Goldman's Representative throughout Goldman's ordeal, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Richard Neal, both of Massachusetts, say they've been trying to intervene in an effort to get mother and daughter back to the United States, according to the AP.
Read more about this evolving case here