MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. – The Brazilian family of a boy at the center of an international custody battle said Tuesday the boy wants to remain in Brazil, where he feels safe and loved.
Maternal grandmother Silvana Bianchi told "The Early Show" on CBS Tuesday that 9-year-old Sean Goldman has told her he doesn't want to leave them.
"Sean wants to stay in Brazil with the family," she said in a live interview from New York. "It's very hard for him to separate from his sister."
The New Jersey-born boy's mother, Bruna Bianchi, took him to her native Brazil when he was 4 for what was planned as a vacation and never returned. She married and died last year from complications during childbirth.
Her new husband, Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, also in New York for the television appearance, said the boy has spent most of his life in Brazil and feels safe there. Lins e Silva now has custody of the child and wants to keep it that way.
The boy's biological father, David Goldman, has been seeking custody for years under the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions, which lays out how it should be handled when one parent takes a child to another country without permission of the other.
Earlier this month, a federal court in Brazil ruled that the Tinton Falls man should be able to get custody and return the boy to New Jersey. A handover of the boy has been held up by an appeal. No ruling on it is expected for several weeks.
But last week, a Brazilian judge ruled that Goldman could go to Brazil and have custody there for six days a week until the case is resolved. So far, Goldman has not taken up that offer. His lawyer has said he wasn't confident that an appeal wouldn't scuttle it.
In the meantime, Lins e Silva and his allies have been seeking to increase public pressure in Brazil and, now, the U.S. Last week, they released a transcript of a psychiatrists' interview with Sean in which he said he wanted to remain in Brazil.
On Monday, he said the same thing in a short advertisement on CBS ahead of Tuesday's segment. But an interview with the boy was not aired Tuesday. Instead, he was only seen in still photos and footage of him playing basketball.
Goldman's advocates say that Sean's statements on video that he wanted to remain in Brazil were coached. U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who has intervened in the case, compared them to a kidnapping video.
Neither Goldman nor his lawyer, Patricia Apy, immediately returned messages left Tuesday morning.