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Rows of chairs were arranged facing the film screen.

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We took our places, and soon the movie began. It was in black-and-white, and in French. There wasn't any problem understanding the language, since Joanne and I were French-Canadian. But, soon, a problem manifested itself. I felt a great sense of relief as I stepped into the daylight and fresh air of that afternoon. As I walked home, my mind was filled with thoughts of that poor child and the horrible pain she suffered. The movie I saw all those years ago in the s was probably the version titled La petite Aurore: l'enfant martyre.

A few years ago, another version was released in , simply called Aurore. I saw this French-language colour production on television, and this time, was able to sit through to the end. I was very moved by it, but not distressed in the same way I was when a young child. Kelly and others have noted that with these forces in place, the paternal preference was gradually replaced by a maternal preference, based on the "tender years" presumption.

The tender years doctrine intended to apply to children under age 6 "was originally invoked to determine temporary custody arrangements in English law, giving mothers custody of infants only until they were ready to be returned to the father," Kelly writes. By the s, however, maternal preference had trumped paternal preference completely, regardless of the child's age, and become law in 48 states.

And with the rise of psychological theories such as psychoanalysis , which emphasized the mother-child bond over any other, mothers were presumed to be the parent of influence, and of choice.

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Kelly points to a Missouri judicial opinion which asserted: "There is but a twilight zone between a mother's love and the atmosphere of heaven. Ironically, it was the second-wave of feminism that changed things for women, men, and children post-divorce. As women entered the workforce and the division of household labor changed yet again, so did presumptions about parenting. A new and highly malleable concept--the best interests of the child--came to prevail in custody cases. Meanwhile, a la Kramer versus Kramer , fathers became more involved than ever before in the everyday parenting of their children.

The Families and Work Institute found in that fathers spent significantly more workday time caring for and doing things with their children than did Boomer fathers, with the trend expected to continue. Fathers' increased involvement and attachment complicated assumptions about what might be best for a child, as well as our ideas about who was a "real" or "natural" parent.

The case of Sean Goldman suggests that, righteous convictions and black and white distinctions about paternity aside, "the best interests of the child" is a more vexed proposition. With the rise of this concept, we can no longer simply resort to the position that a child is the "property" of a parent and so belongs with him, and to him. Or can we?

History plays a role in the Sean Goldman custody dispute.

This was a case of kidnapping, NOT about custody. As a previous poster mentioned, Sean's mother's family did everything in their power to keep Sean from his other "natural" parent. When I learned yesterday that presents from his father were returned unopened, it left no doubt in my mind that this young boy was being psychologically tortured by his kidnappers. Plain and simple. Had his mother's family had any consideration of this child outside of their own selfish interests and motivations, Sean would have not been so frightened to return to his "natural" father's loving arms.

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If only the mother had not absconded entirely with the child. If only the Brazilian family had not kept him from his father for years. If only they had behaved with grace and dignity years ago. What the hell is that? It takes TWO to breed, society. I love how the justice system uses the term "in the interest of the child" and yet, I think, what the CHILD personally wants falls on deaf ears. Then again, this is a weird case. I know it's horrible that woman died in childbirth, but I can't help thinking she got what was coming to her.

Once she divorced, she married a divorce lawyer with powerful political ties. It just shows she did this all on purpose. She knew what she was doing was wrong, and hid behind every wall she could. What this woman did was criminal, so I don't understand what the whole five-year battle was about.


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This father was the primary caretaker before the boy was abducted. That bond was cut, leaving him with a sense of abandonment. Beyond that, a campaign of negativity introduced parental alienation syndrome against the father. It is my belief that this reunion is exactly what this boy needs to truly heal --and without reuniting with his natural father, he would always have a gap. If you read news stories, you will see how toxic and damaging the Brazilian family was --the grandmother, especially, was a high level neurotic, perhaps worse, with a narcissistic streak so thick you can cut it with a knife.

I don't belive we had this discusssion when the subject of the book, "My name is Steven" was rescued from his kidnapper. I don't believe there was any controversy over "rightful parent" when Elizabeth Smart was recovered. Or any of the numerous kidnap victims for that matter. Both had become "comfortable" with their abductors. The fact that Sean's abductors were family members doesn't change the situation. There never was doubt in anyone's mind that Sean and his father belonged together. Only in the mind of a half-crazed grandmother, who thinks she is still lactating, her narcissistic daughter who was bored with the life of a housewife and missed her privileged life as a member of Brazil's elite society, her ne'er-do-well husband with all the money and political connections she needed to pull of the kidnapping and the oppulent lifestyle to which she was entitled.

Yeah, it's trumatic, but I don't think quite an "Armagedden". Literally thousands of children everyday adjust to new enviornments, new friends, new languages and cutltures, and even new families. You listen too much to CBS. Many more respected mental health professionals have said as long as the wacko's stay away, Sean can recover from this kidnapping. I can't understand you're inference that this case is at all about a changing definition of what constitutes a family and a "rightful" parent.

That is no more than a crock of psycho-babble. I beleive Sean is being exploited by his " natural father".


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  7. Clearly Sean's mother did not want her son raised by his 'natural father" or she would not have gone back to her family in Brazil, where one can surmize she felt safe. I feel terrible for Sean and think he would be better off in Brazil with his wife's family. Sean's "natural father" seems petty and vindictive. He appears to be acting out of his own anger and hurt. Moreover, the fact that Merideth Viera and the Today show are also exploiting this tragic situtation strengthens my aguement. It's all about the "natural father". I think he is a terrible parent because his feelings, however valid, are more important to him than what maybe best for his son.

    The child was not simply a pet that was adopted by the next loving family that would care for it. Although his life was perfectly fine, his true sense of indentity surely was not secure. I know this first hand, as I was a child of parent abduction, as well. I realize it is a very scary feeling to be put in the middle of such a battle.

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    But, I did "survive and thrive", and learned so much about being a great parent to my children. As I reflect upon it as an adult, I have to say I feel like I was a very loved child. After all is said and done, in an odd way, it gave me a confidence booster knowing the depths that two people my mother and father would go through to have me in their lives. Like they say, it's all how you look at it, glass full, glass empty kind of thing. Goldman seems like a very loving person. There is absolutely know doubt in my mind Sean will "survive and thrive", too! There is something about this case I don't trust.

    We know nothing about Mr. Goldman except his tenacious fight to get custody of his son. The mother left the country under false pretense, why? She was awarded full custody of her child when she filed for divorce. Where was dad from until ? My understanding based on reports I've read is that David Goldman was advised not to visit his son initially, or to respond to his wife's offers of visitation, etc. He says he was turned away. His in-laws seem truly to have tried to erase him from Sean's life. The in-laws counter that David Goldman did not attempt to visit his son.

    What happened to Sean Goldman--an enforced separation from his father for years--has no doubt been harmful, even terrible, for him and who knows what impact it will have on the course of his development.