Samuel Forrest of Armenia recently gained one family member while simultaneously losing another. After giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome, Forrest’s wife told him she would leave him if they kept the baby.
Forrest was not aware of the way things go in Armenia because he is from New Zealand. Forrest described the Armenian customs, saying, “What happens when a baby like this is born here, they will tell you that you don’t have to keep them. My wife had already decided, so all of this was done behind my back."
Forrest described the moment when he first met his son, Leo. He told ABC News, “This pediatrician walks out of the room with a little bundle -- that was Leo. 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’.”
He continued, “When I walked into the room they all turned to me and said 'Leo has Down syndrome’. I had a few moments of shock."
As soon as he held Leo, Forrest knew that he would keep his son no matter what. However, his wife had other plans.
When he walked into the hospital room where she was, he said, “I got the ultimatum right then. She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce."
Forrest knew he wanted to keep Leo, and his wife filed for divorce a week later.
He now is a single father looking for support to help raise Leo. He has started a GoFundMe page “Bring Leo Home” to help raise Leo for the first year. He is also planning a move back to New Zealand so his family members can help raise his son.
Forrest described his situation, “This really came out of the blue for me. I don’t have a lot, I have very little in fact. 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."
Forrest is also trying to help raise awareness about Down syndrome and other birth defects.
He explained, “After what I've been through with Leo, I'm not going to sit back and watch babies be sent to orphanages. As a child with Down syndrome, that becomes somewhat of a label. If we can get around this label, we’ll see that they’re normal. They’re a little different from us, but they’re still normal."