"It's a miracle," Goldman tells Meredith Vieira in an interview scheduled to air Dec. 28 on the Today show. "There was 364 other days that [it] could've been, if he ever were going to come home. But it was Christmas Eve. Somebody's up there for sure."
"One of my friends said, 'You know, if some Hollywood producer was gonna write this . . . and have it come to the end how it did, they would say, ''What are you kidding? No one would believe that,' " Goldman says in the interview, which will also air on Dateline on Jan. 8. "But it's amazing. It's truly incredible."
Camera crews captured a mob scene as Sean, now 9-years-old, was led through throngs of photographers and reporters by his stepfather to the U.S. consulate in Rio de Janeiro to be reunited with his father.
Of the emotional handoff, Goldman says, "My heart has been breaking, and has been broken over and over, and over, and over, through this whole terrible ordeal. I'll never understand them. I don't think anybody who has rational logic and true love can ever grasp that spectacle that they created out there. For what?"
But Goldman says he feels like Sean was actually mentally prepared for their eventual reunion – that he was imagining it. "He's been envisioning it," he says. "He's been imagining it. And, you know, his mind was all over the place, I'm sure. So, I was just responding and reacting as best I could to keep him calm, and to keep reassuring him that I love him."
He's Very Loved
In 2004, Goldman's ex-wife Bruna took their son to her native Brazil for what was supposed to be a two-week week trip. Days later Bruna called and said she was staying, and wanted to divorce Goldman. Bruna remarried in 2007, and then died in Aug. 2008 while giving birth to Sean's half-sister Chiara. For five years, Goldman, who lives in Tinton Falls, N.J., has been waging a campaign to get his son back, and it was only in the last year that he finally got to see Sean after a judge ordered the visits.
Still, when they reunited, after Brazil’s chief justice ruled last week that Sean should be returned to his natural father, Goldman tells Vieira it was as if no time had elapsed at all. In their first few moments together, Goldman says his son was, "talking to me like we've spoken for a very long time. He didn't ever, ever once say, 'I don't want to go with you [or] I don't want to be with you.' He had no resistance at all."
As Goldman works to rebuild a relationship with his son, he admits he worries about Sean's adjustment. "I hope he doesn't have lifelong nightmares of that day," he says. "What he had just experienced, it's unfathomable."
"He's here now," Goldman says, noting that the whole extended family has embraced Sean. "And he's with his cousins. And they're having fun. And he's loved. Very, very loved."
Reporting by SHARON COTLIAR