HOUSTON, Texas - Dr. Chris Brann's fingers run over the pictures of his son Nico, now 8 years old, smiling and playing. His eyes fill with tears.
Inside his home near Houston's Medical Center, this father's quest to get his son back, may finally have reached a turning point today.
"Over and over again, I've had my hopes just dashed, my heart crushed, but today is a day I finally feel like there's a chance," he said.
When Nico was just 3 years old, Brann's ex-wife, Marcelle Guimaraes took their son for a family wedding in Salvador, Brazil.
They would never return.
Unknown to Brann at the time, his ex-wife filed for custody in Brazilian courts, and enrolled their son in school. It's been a nightmare ever since.
"There's no doubt they illegally abducted my child, and there's no doubt they have done everything in their power to have my son not in my life," said the internist.
On Wednesday morning, Brann got a phone call from his lawyer. Federal authorities had arrested Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes, Nico's grandparents, as they entered the U.S. at Miami International Airport.
The wealthy Brazilian couple and their daughter have all been charged with conspiracy and International Parental Kidnapping. Nico and his mother remain in Brazil. But the grandparents' arrests on U.S. soil could be pivotal. The grandparents are being held without bond, pending a hearing on Monday in Miami. The Department of Justice plans to ask for no bond at that hearing.
Brann hopes their arrest will be the first step in an uncertain process that could eventually bring Nico back to Houston.
"Just the glimmer of hope," he said, choking back tears. "Having him back home is why I have been fighting for five years."
Brann's tireless efforts to get his son back had involved multiple trips to Brazil. He was able to get visitation rights, but all visits are always accompanied by two armed guards. Along the way, Brann has learned Portuguese, lobbied Washington, and became an expert at parents who are left behind. He says approximately a thousand parents in the U.S. today are in similar situations, where another parent has taken a child oversees without authorization.
"I always felt like if I could just see him, if I could just be in his life, he wouldn't forget me, and he'd ask about me, and want to know who his dad is."
Brann says he is grateful for everyone who has helped him along the way. However, he is still very cautious, knowing it could still be a long time before Nico comes home.