Samuel Forrest is refusing to give up his son with Down Syndrome – even after his wife abandoned him and the hospital offered to send the infant to an orphanage.
On January 21, 2015 Samuel was thrilled to be a new father. The native New Zealander currently lives in Armenia. He was anxiously waiting outside his wife’s hospital room when he heard his son Leo’s first cries. But moments later, hospital staff shuttled the baby out of the room and refused to let him see his wife or baby. “When the doctor came out, he said ‘there’s a real problem with your son,'” the father told ABC News.
The doctor told him that his newborn son had Down syndrome. As the shock of the news began to set in, Samuel was in for a second shock when he visited his wife in her room and she gave him an ultimatum: give up the baby or she would divorce him.
Samuel chose his son.
“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,” he told ABC News.
Now a single dad, Samuel plans on moving back to New Zealand with Leo. With limited financial resources, Samuel turned to a crowdfunding site, where he was met with an outpouring of support from strangers. In one week, he’d already surpassed his goal of raising $60,000, raising more than $300,000 dollars.
Many may be wondering why Leo’s Armenian family would turn their backs on the newborn. Samuel explained that there are scores of babies who are abandoned every year in Armenia. Reasons range from from physical or intellectual disabilities and minor ‘imperfections’. Many of these abandoned babies end up in what he calls “squalid orphanages, where they live and die, rejected and forgotten by society”. Samuel was not going to let that happen to his son.
Samuel has promised to donate the some of the funds he’s raised to “facilities and programs in Armenia that will support future parents to keep their kids despite all disabilities” as well as to “the only orphanage in Armenia that regularly takes abandoned Down Syndrome babies”.
I’m wishing all the best for Samuel and Leo’s future!