A lawyer for Sean's father, David, says a federal court in Brazil has ordered the boy to be returned to his dad in the U.S. by Wednesday.
After five long years, a Brazilian court has agreed to return 8-year-old Sean Goldman to his father, David. Momlogic spoke with Bobbie LaPlaca, a Goldman family friend and director of the nursery school Sean attended, for her reaction:
momlogic: How do you know David Goldman and his son, Sean?
Bobbie: I am the director of the Tinton Falls Cooperative Nursery School in New Jersey and have been for 14 years. Sean was enrolled here for two years. We are a cooperative nursery school, meaning the parents come in once a month and assist the teacher. Bruna, David's ex-wife and Sean's mother, worked full-time as a high school teacher, so David would come in and help. We got to know him very well during the two years Sean was here. I was very fond of David, Bruna, and Bruna's parents. They had been at the school many times while visiting David and Bruna. They'd pick up and drop off Sean before and after school. They were always very cordial and friendly to me, as was Bruna. She'd kiss me on both cheeks, like the Europeans do. She was always warm and friendly. They were a great family to have here. Bruna took Sean to Brazil during what should have been his third year at our school.
momlogic: How did you assist David after Sean was taken to Brazil?
Bobbie: When this happened, David came to me. My staff and I were devastated. David asked if I would produce Sean's records to show he had been an involved parent, which he certainly was. I went through all the records and we went together and had them notarized. I remember David had me sitting in the passenger seat of his car, listening to Bruna's messages with him. It was very emotional. This was five years ago, and she'd let David talk to Sean for a minute, and then the phone would be taken away. The emotional messages seemed to imply Sean was coming back home. David was very distraught and we spent a lot of hours communicating. We were all extremely upset.
momlogic: What kind of father was David?
Bobbie: David was a caring and loving dad. He would drop by unannounced if he had to work in the evening, just so he could read a story to Sean, since he wouldn't be there at night to tuck him in. He'd read the story during class and all the kids would gather around. David was very hands-on, loving, caring, and just a wonderful father. There was a great bond between David and Sean.
momlogic: Over the years, what have you and the community done to support David?
Bobbie: So many families from the nursery school were neighbors and classmates of the Goldmans and Sean. There has been a lot of praying, a website was created, contributions were donated, and the staff here and people who knew David from my nursery school have certainly tried to support him. There has been a lot of community support. Whether David is aware or not, there is certainly a following and support from the staff and parents of my nursery school.
momlogic: What do you remember most about Sean? What kind of child was he?
Bobbie: Sean was easy-going, loving, bubbly, smiling all the time, just always laughing and happy. He never had a down day. He got along with everyone. He was very amicable, just like his dad. When Bruna came in, she was always very happy and smiling, too. I just bumped into a coworker of Bruna's a few weeks ago. She also had her 2 kids in my school. She worked with Bruna one-on-one and socialized with David and Bruna as couples and colleagues. And she mentioned that she was still in disbelief -- and never imagined Bruna was capable of doing this. Sean was a happy-go-lucky kid. Nothing seemed to bother him and nothing phased him.
momlogic: What's your reaction after hearing the news of the ruling today?
Bobbie: Ecstatic! I got goose bumps, chills, thrills, and I feel prayers have been answered. I can't wait to tell my staff in the morning and I can't wait to spread the good word. I am sure it will be in the headlines. I would say I don't want to get false hopes.
I am friendly with David's mother, Ellie, and I know how many times they've been let down. There have been horror stories of the times David went to visit Sean, but was denied seeing him. She told me about when David first went over ... his first visit was phenomenal. He got to shoot hoops with Sean and there was a psychologist there. Then he was allowed to take Sean for a visit, but when he went to pick him up the next day, he was denied at the last minute. So he has had a lot of setbacks, and so now we all hope and pray this will work out for David's sake because he's a gentleman and so deserving to get his son back.
He's been up against a very affluent family. They were always polite and cordial, but we always knew he was dealing with her family, and that she came from wealth. It was very apparent. I remember David was telling us that the nanny who cared for Bruna as a child was brought back into their home to care for Sean. They had the means to fight him. But, I have chills right now. We create a family here and he was part of our family and, if this happens, it would be a very emotional day for us. We will be yelling out in joy tomorrow and when Sean comes home.