"I said, 'You can call me Dad,"' David Goldman said on NBC's "Today" show. "And he didn't say anything."
Goldman brought 9-year-old Sean back from Brazil on Christmas Eve after a five-year international custody dispute. The boy's mother, Bruna Bianchi, took Sean to her native Brazil in 2004, divorced Goldman and remarried. Goldman began legal efforts to get his son back.
After Bianchi died last year in childbirth, her husband, Paulo Lins e Silva, continued the legal fight and won temporary custody. A ruling last week by the chief justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court finally cleared the way for the boy's return.
NBC paid for Goldman's charter plane from Rio de Janeiro back to the U.S. The father and son have been staying with relatives in Orlando, Fla.
Goldman has not said when he'll bring Sean back home to Tinton Falls, N.J. He says the boy is happy to be with him but needs time to adjust.
"I missed five previous years of my son's life," Goldman said. "That's a big scar. Now we're together, and we'll heal."
Goldman said he's looking forward to taking his son canoeing, something Sean enjoyed when he was younger.
He said the boy remembers a bit about his life in New Jersey and has asked whether his bedroom had been changed.
When Goldman told him it had been left as it was when the boy was 4, Sean rolled his eyes at the thought of staying in a little kid's room. Goldman said they would redo it together.
Although the fight is over in Brazilian courts, there is still possible action in the case.
Goldman's lawyer, Patricia Apy, says details still need to be worked out for conditions of visitation for the boy's family in Brazil.
Goldman says he doesn't want to deny them access to the boy the way they kept him away.
There could also be legislation to address other international abduction cases.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who traveled to Brazil with Goldman several times, is pushing a bill that would allow the U.S. to impose sanctions on countries that don't comply with an international treaty on how to handle similar abduction cases.
There are about 2,800 such cases worldwide involving children from the U.S., officials say.