Sunday, March 15, 2009

Custody fight gets Congressional Attention

When US President Barack Obama and Brasilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a major issue among their discussion was the custody of Sean Goldman. He is the son of a now deceased woman, Bruna Bianchi who moved with him from New Jersey to Rio de Janeiro four years ago without his father's consent.

The boy, who is eight years of age, was left in the care of the mother's second husband who is a member of a prominent family of lawyers and judges. The case is currently in before a federal court in Brasil awaiting a decision as to whether the abduction violated the Hague Abduction Convention. The treaty seeks to determine whether children have been unlawfully removed from their country of habitual residence.

The treaty, as most custody laws, has exceptions that allow for the child to remain in the custody of an abductor. The exception allows for a child to remain in the custody of an abductor if the child has become settled in the home of the abductor. This is based upon the "best interest of the child" standard that allows for children to often remain in the custody of a parent although an appeals court rules that the child was wrongfully placed.

Ironically, children that have been well settled and adjusted to their home life including most of their educational and friendships connections along with community bonds have been uprooted and removed to parents with little or no personal interaction with them during that time.

One such case is that of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby were rescued after both were abducted by Michael Devlin. Shawn Hornbeck, now 16, was abducted when he was just 11 years of age and held for over four years. Ownby escaped after just four days of captivity. Hornbeck had been seen by neighbors spending time biking on his own and hanging out with friends, apparently unwatched by Devlin, in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb.

It wasn't until police interviewed Devlin about his white truck that matched the description of the vehicle used in the Ownby abduction that Devlin became a suspect. Police soon after found the boys at Devlin's apartment.

If court's are regularly ruling that children who have been abducted by a parent involved in a custody dispute can remain with that parent then why was Hornbeck removed? He was living with Devlin as "his son" and was seen in the community on his own and had friends and connections to the community. If it is in the best interest of many children to be left in the custody of their parental abductors even though they have sought to be with their parent who lawfully has custody then why is the standard different for stranger abductions?

Can it be said that Hornbeck had not made an adjustment to his community and the life he was living with Devlin? I find it ironic that the judge who likely sits in judgment of Devlin and has decided that Hornbeck be returned to his lawful parents has probably not returned other children. Now we have a federal court in Brasil who may do the same.

Our legislators in the US House have adopted House Resolution 125 by U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican with a long history of intervening in far-flung humanitarian cases, by a 418-0 vote. The resolution calls for Brasil to return the child to Goldman in the United States. Had Sean Goldman been taken from the arms of a loving parent by another parent in the United States then there would be no outpouring of support by our hypocritical representatives in Washington who actually advocate the destruction of American families.

1 comment:

beyondbelief said...

Have you lost your mind? Shawn Hornbeck was abducted at gunpoint, kept bound for the first 30 days of his captivity and sexually abused daily during much of his 4 1/2 years away from his parents. His abductor also attempted to murder him and threatened to do the same to his REAL family, but Shawn talked him out of it by promising not to ever try to get away. Shawn was also deprived of any education during his ordeal.

His abductor, who is not any relation, pled guilty to numerous charges and was given over 70 life sentances and will spend the rest of his natural life in prison.

How you can compare this case to that of Sean Goldman is beyond comprehension. Your 'well settled' argument in this case defies logic. Step away from the crack pipe dude, and perhaps do a little more research before using Shawn as an example of a similiar situation.