HADDONFIELD, N.J. — The grandmother of a boy brought from Brazil to his father's New Jersey home to resolve an international abduction case is complaining that she's not allowed to see the child.
Silvana Bianchi told Brazil's Globo TV on Sunday night that her grandson's human rights are being violated.
The Brazilian woman and her husband arrived in New Jersey last month with hopes of visiting 9-year-old Sean Goldman.
His father, David Goldman, brought him home on Dec. 24 after a five-year international custody battle. The U.S. Congress and Brazil's Supreme Court weighed in on the case, and the presidents of the two countries discussed it when they met last year.
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The boy's mother, Bruna Bianchi, took the child to her native Brazil in 2004. There, she divorced Goldman and eventually married a Rio de Janeiro lawyer. After she died giving birth to a daughter in 2008, the abduction case started getting attention around the world.
Goldman traveled repeatedly to Brazil to visit his son. But he did not get to see the boy until U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, began accompanying him last year.Video: Why was Goldman case so difficult?
At the time, Goldman consistently said that the boy's family in Brazil would be able to see him when the child returned to New Jersey.
When the handoff finally happened last December, Goldman denied Silvana Bianchi's request to board the private jet that flew the child and his father back to the U.S.
Visitation with restrictions
Goldman's lawyer, Patricia Apy, says the father is willing to give the boy's maternal grandparents access to the child in time, but he wants a mental health professional involved.
"We requested from Silvana and her husband in January that there be a process to deal with the ongoing family relationship, which is complex because David is getting to know Sean," Apy said.
"That was not a process that they were willing to be involved in."
The couple, who previously owned a home in New Jersey, arrived last month and met with David Goldman and a mental health professional.
Apy said that after that meeting didn't result in immediate visitation, the couple filed an emergency application to see the boy.
A judge denied that emergency request last week on grounds that it didn't qualify as an emergency — and planned a hearing on the visitation matter for May.
An ‘empty hug’
Bianchi told Globo that she has not been allowed to speak on the phone with her grandson, who lived with her for much of his five years in Brazil, for more than a month.
"I told (Sean) we are doing everything we can to go visit him," she said. "I said 'I miss you very much.' He asked me, 'When will you come?'" Video: Goldman: There was a great deal of pain
"I came here to try to hug my grandson, but I'm leaving with an empty hug, I was not able to see Sean," she said.
Their lawyer, Jonathan Wolfe, said the couple resorted to a court filing only because their other efforts to see the boy have been rebuffed. He said the grandparents are the boy's link to his late mother, his little sister and the culture in which he lived for half of his life.
"It's a sad situation; I think it's a terrible thing for this boy," Wolfe said. "You can't erase that side of his family."
Apy said Sean is adjusting well to life with his father, and is doing well in school.
Apy said David Goldman would not grant interviews on the visitation issue. She said he also was seeking to keep the Bianchis from talking about it in the media.
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