ORLANDO, Fla. —A father and his 9-year-old son at the center of a five-year custody battle on two continents arrived in Florida from Brazil on Thursday.
Sean Goldman and his dad, David Goldman of Tinton Falls, N.J., landed in Orlando on a private jet chartered by NBC. They reunited earlier in Rio de Janeiro, ending an epic battle that pitted Sean's father against the boy's Brazilian stepfather, who had cared for Sean since his mother died last year.
The dispute reached the highest levels of the U.S. and Brazilian governments and strained relations between the two countries.
The scene when the two were reunited was as tumultuous as the legal fight itself, with the youngster forced to squeeze though a jostling crowd of reporters and photographers.
Soon afterward, a smiling Sean Goldman was back in his father's arms, talking about basketball and how much snow there was back in New Jersey. Then father and son boarded a private jet and took off for the United States.
"It is now time for our new beginning, the rebirth of our family at such a special time of the year," the boy's father wrote in a letter read to reporters after his departure.
Sean had lived in Brazil since Goldman's ex-wife, Bruna Bianchi, brought him to her native country for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation in 2004. She stayed, divorced Goldman and remarried, and Goldman began legal efforts to get Sean back.
After Bianchi died last year in childbirth, her husband, Paulo Lins e Silva, a prominent divorce attorney, continued the legal fight and won temporary custody.
Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who was with Sean's father in Brazil and supported him, would not say where they were headed, only that they wanted to "cocoon" somewhere other than New Jersey for a while. Soon, they were on a plane to the U.S.