Brazilian judge orders boy returned to US father
SAO PAULO – SAO PAULO (AP) — For the second time in four months, a judge has ordered a Brazilian to relinquish custody of a child to his U.S. father.
In this case, Hilma Aparecida Caldeira, a former member of Brazil's national volleyball team and ex-Olympic contender has been ordered to return her 4-year-old son to his American father, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Orna Blum said Saturday.
Contacted in Brazil, the boy's 43-year-old father, Kelvin Birotte of Houston, said the court deadline for him to receive his son is Thursday. He said he had been unable to contact his estranged wife since arriving in Rio de Janeiro, but understood she filed an appeal to the custody order. Caldeira could not be reached for comment.
"I'm going to be here until something happens, good or bad," said Birotte, a chef by trade who declined to say how much he had spent on the four-year custody dispute.
Birotte said Caldeira brought their son to Brazil to visit relatives sometime in 2006 and stayed on as she filed the same year for divorce and custody of the child.
He last saw his son, also named Kelvin, at a court hearing in 2007, when the boy was 1½-years-old. He turns 5 on Aug. 29.
A separate U.S.-related custody case that attracted international attention was resolved in December, when a Brazilian Supreme Court judge backed a federal court's ruling ordering Brazilian relatives to return 9-year-old Sean Goldman to his father, David Goldman, of Tinton Falls, New Jersey. The case dragged on for five years.
The boy's mother, Bruna Bianchi, took Sean to her native Brazil in 2004. She later divorced Goldman and remarried, prompting Goldman to initiate legal efforts to get his son back. Bianchi died in 2008 in childbirth, but Sean's Brazilian stepfather and grandmother continued to fight for custody in Brazil.
Birotte said he drew inspiration from the Goldman case, e-mailing messages of support to David Goldman's website, although the two fathers never met.
Despite Caldeira's local fame as an athlete, Birotte said he felt he was being treated fairly by Brazilian authorities.
"Personally, it's taking too long," he said. "But each legal system is different."
Uncertain even in what city his wife and son might be, Birotte appealed for her to call by posting a phone number on his Facebook page, which they have used to communicate during their divorce proceedings.
As for his son, Birotte said his message is simple: "Daddy loves him and he misses him."
Associated Press Writer Morgan Lee in Mexico City contributed to this report.