A man’s wife threatened to divorce him if he did not abandon their newborn son with Down syndrome, but he refused.
Before they allowed Samuel Forrest to meet his son, Leo, doctors and nurses in an Armenian hospital led him into a room and warned him Leo has Down syndrome, reported ABC News. Forrest had no idea at the time that Armenian law allows parents the option of abandoning children born with Down syndrome.
“This pediatrician walks out of the room with a little bundle — that was Leo,” Forrest told ABC News. “She had his face covered up and hospital authorities wouldn’t let me see him or my wife. When the doctor came out, he said ‘there’s a real problem with your son.'”
“When I walked into the room they all turned to me and said ‘Leo has Down syndrome,'” he continued. “I had a few moments of shock.”
When Forrest met Leo, he knew he wanted to keep him. “They took me in to see him and I looked at this guy and I said, he’s beautiful,” Forrest told ABC News. “He’s perfect and I’m absolutely keeping him.”
Forrest was completely surprised when he took Leo into his wife’s hospital room, and she immediately gave him an ultimatum. “She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce.”
“What happens when a baby like this is born here, they will tell you that you don’t have to keep them,” he said. “My wife had already decided, so all of this was done behind my back.”
Forrest kept Leo, and his wife filed for divorce a week later. He and Leo plan to return to New Zealand, where they will have the support of loved ones.
He’s also started a GoFundMe page called “Bring Leo Home” to raise support, which has raised more than $350,000 in 10 days. “The mother refused to even look at or touch the newborn for fear of getting attached in a society where defects are not accepted, often bringing shame on the family involved,” the page reads.
“I don’t have a lot; I have very little in fact,” he told ABC News. “The goal is to raise enough for a year so I can get a part-time job so Leo doesn’t have to be in daycare and I can help care for him. He’s lost a lot in two weeks. It’d be different if he had his mommy.”
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