(PIX11) — A man has chosen to raise his newborn son as a single dad after his wife reportedly abandoned the baby because he has Down syndrome.
Samuel Forrest, who is originally from New Zealand, told ABC News that when baby Leo was born in an Armenian hospital, a doctor told him “there’s a real problem with your son.”
Forrest says he had “a few moments of shock” when he was told Leo had Down syndrome but that quickly changed when he saw him for the first time. “They took me in see him and I looked at this guy and I said, he’s beautiful — he’s perfect and I’m absolutely keeping him.”
But his wife had a very different reaction.
“She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce,” Forrest told ABC. Forrest was unaware that in Armenia, a mother has the right to give up a baby if it is born with a disability. Forrest chose Leo, and a week later, his wife filed for divorce.
“It’s not what I want,” he said. “I didn’t even have a chance to speak with her in privately about it.” ABC News spoke to the mother, Ruzan Badalyan, who would only confirm she had a child with Down syndrome and she has left her husband.
Forrest has since started a GoFundMe campaign to raise enough money to move back to New Zealand with Leo. The fund has raised more than $370,000.
“We will use some of the money you’ve given to fund facilities and programs here in Armenia that will support future parents to keep their kids despite all disabilities, and to help better care for the special ones who end up away from their Mom & Dad,” Forrest wrote on the fundraising page. “We’d also like to share the surplus funds with the only orphanage in Armenia that regularly takes abandoned Down Syndrome babies as well as other organisations that can help these children – thanks to your support we can start to make a difference already”