Sean cried as his stepfather and family lawyer tried to get him through the scrum of journalists in front of the consulate. Guards had to violently push back photographers and TV cameramen. The boy carried his luggage and wore a yellow shirt with the Brazilian flag and Olympic rings underneath.
He didn't say anything as he was led from a black SUV across the street to the consulate. His maternal grandmother, Silvana Bianchi, said in tears simply that "this is a very difficult moment." Goldman's New Jersey-based lawyer, Patricia Apy, criticized how the turnover was conducted.
"Unfortunately, the Brazilian family, rather than have the handoff take place in a garage, which would have been secure, parked away and walked him through the press, which only serves to make the situation more stressful for the child," Apy said.
Goldman, of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, won a big legal victory late Tuesday when Brazil's chief justice upheld a lower court's ruling that ordered Sean returned to him.
The father and son were expected to fly back to Goldman's home within hours.
The Brazilian family said Wednesday it was dropping legal challenges to rulings giving custody to Goldman. But the New Jersey man said repeatedly that, until he was on a plane heading to the U.S. with Sean at his side, he would not feel relief.
The Brazilian family brought the boy to the consulate about 25 minutes before the 9 a.m. (1100 GMT) court-ordered deadline to have him handed over to his dad.
Sean has lived in Brazil since Goldman's ex-wife, Bruna Bianchi, brought him to her native country for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation in 2004.
Bianchi stayed, divorced Goldman and remarried, and Goldman began legal efforts to get back Sean. Last year Bianchi died in childbirth.