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CBS Exclusive: Sean Goldman's Brazilian Family Tells Their Side

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) It's a dramatic international custody battle that's reached the highest levels of the Brazilian legal system and U.S. diplomatic circles. An American father has fought for five years to be reunited with his son, but the boy's Brazilian family says the boy is theirs.

This morning Sean Goldman's Brazilian family sat down with CBS' The Early Show for an exclusive interview to explain why they feel the boy should stay with them in Brazil, even though his biological father is fighting for his return to the U.S.

How did we get here?
It began as a love affair. David Goldman was an American model working in Milan when he met Bruna, a beautiful Brazilian-born fashion design student. They fell in love, got married, moved to New Jersey and had a son named Sean. But everything changed in 2004 when Bruna took their 4-year-old son to Brazil for what Goldman says was a family vacation. Bruna and Sean never returned.

She divorced Goldman, remarried, and died tragically in 2008 while giving birth to her second child. But after her death, her second husband, Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, refused to return Sean to his birth father. Silva, a successful attorney, claims the nine-year-old boy is now his own.

Goldman thought his five-year custody battle was coming to an end in June, when he won a ruling in a federal court in Brazil. But a Brazilian Supreme Court justice suspended that decision after receiving a petition from a Brazilian political party.

(Family Photo)
Undated photo of David Goldman with son, Sean.

"Sean wants to stay in Brazil."

This morning, when the Brazilian family at the center of the international custody battle appeared on The Early Show for an exclusive interview, they had a lot to say.

"I love Sean as a real son," Silva told Early Show anchor Harry Smith in slightly broken English. "Sean has spent 60 percent of life in Brazil. This is a place he feels safe, protected, loved."

Silva, and Sean's maternal grandmother Silvana Biachi, reiterated their claim that Sean wants to stay in Brazil with them.

"Sean wants to stay in Brazil with his family," Biachi said, also in broken English. She added that Sean's biological father "has the right to visit the baby of course... how many times he wants he can go to Brazil to visit his son, no problems."

But the family is adamant that they will continue to fight to prevent David Goldman from taking his son back to America.

Both Brazil and the U.S. are signatories to an international treaty that addresses how to handle cases of children taken across international borders without parental consent. The U.S. State Department has repeatedly cited Brazil for violating the treaty. In March, President Barack Obama asked that Sean be returned to his birth father. But the case looks like it will continue to be tied up in the Brazilian courts for some time.

June 3, 2009 - Not So Fast: Brazilian Court Keeps American Dad From Son
June 2, 2009 - Father Battles For Son And Wins

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