The courtroom went silent as those in attendance contemplated this new bit of information Brian K. Pearlstein had just provided. How would the managing partner of one of the most highly-regarded family law firms in the area manage to care for this child?
“With a lot of help is the answer to that,” says Brian. Notwithstanding the fact that Brian had raised three children of his own, he now had a four-year-old to care for until he could reunite her with her mother. But with the help of his entire firm, he knew there would be no issue.
“Our entire firm had been following this case for the past three years, each of us pulling for a successful outcome for Fanny and Giulietta’s sake. Our staff has a total of 16 children under the age of six, so there was a lot of empathy there for this mother and daughter. I knew I’d only have to say the word and I’d have all the help I needed to take care of this little girl until we could arrange the reunion.”
Brian asked the Department of Health and Human Services to give him 90 minutes after the judge’s ruling before taking over Giulietta’s care—enough time to buy a booster seat and install it in his car. An hour and a trip to Toys-R-Us later, with a safe means to transport the little girl in place, he picked Giulietta up at the offices of Child Welfare Services.
“I think the picture of her standing in the office, holding a tiny duffle bag that held all of her earthly possessions, will stay with me forever,” he says.
After a stop for dinner, her attorney, now her temporary caregiver, helped Giulietta pick out a whole new wardrobe of clothes at the local department store before heading to his home. That night, one of Brian’s partners with the firm, Kristina Badalian, bathed the little girl and helped her into pajamas—a routine that would be repeated each evening after Giulietta spent the day being cared for by Brian and various members of the law firm.
Each day, Brian and Giulietta made breakfast and dinner together at his home, spending the days at the firm, where the little girl was cared for by staff members while Brian continued to make arrangements for her return to her mother. FaceTime with her mother in France was a daily highlight for Giulietta, and Brian and the other members of the team were careful to document her days in pictures, which they faithfully sent to Fanny.
“We were all amazed by Giulietta’s energy and resiliency,” says Samantha. “In spite of all she had been through, she was still a bright little girl with a great laugh and a spirit of adventure. She was a joy to be around.”
When the plan to meet Fanny in Montreal unraveled over visa issues, Brian changed course. Unwilling to put the reunion off any longer, he made plans on Thursday, August 8, 2019 to fly to Paris with Giulietta, at his cost the next day. They flew out of Dulles International on Friday, August 9, 2019 at 6:30 P.M. and landed at Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport in the early morning hours on August 10, 2019.
Brian wanted the mother and daughter reunion to be as private as possible for them, so he stayed on the outskirts of the group as Fanny and her family welcomed Giulietta after a nearly four-year separation.
With another trial looming on Monday in the states, Brian returned to Maryland after spending less than 36 hours in Paris.
“Sometimes, there are no clear “winners” in family law,” he says. “A relationship has ended and a family is breaking apart,” he says. “That is always a sobering thought. But Fanny and Giulietta’s situation was different. Helping to reunite them after nearly four years apart is the highlight of my professional career in family law.”
Fanny and Brian keep in touch via social media. Giulietta is in school and in various activities, but most importantly finally enjoying a life with her mother. Fanny recently shared something that Giulietta said to her mother, when Fanny asked Giulietta what she wants to do when she grows up. Fanny wrote that Giulietta responded, “I want to be like Brian, and bring back children to their parents.”