The mother of a newborn with Down syndrome who left her husband because he wanted to stand by his child spoke out and addressed the criticism and controversy surrounding her actions.
The baby’s father, Samuel Forrest, shared his story and revealed that his wife, Ruzan Badalyan, gave him an ultimatum upon learning of the diagnosis — her or their newborn son, Leo.
“This pediatrician walks out of the room with a little bundle — that was Leo,” Forrest said. “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.’”
When Forrest walked into his wife’s hospital room with newborn Leo in his arms, she presented him with the devastating choice.
“I got the ultimatum right then,” he said. “She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce.” A week later, Badalyan left. Forrest said the reason for the separation was that Badalyan feared a baby with Down syndrome would “bring shame” on their family.
When news spread of Forrest’s story, people throughout the world expressed their outrage on social media. “Cannot believe anyone would do something so terrible to their newborn son and wonderful husband. Absolutely sick.”
Badalyan confirmed to ABC News that she is the mother of a child with Down syndrome and did recently leave her husband, but refused to elaborate.
Forrest said he plans to move back to his native New Zealand from Armenia, where he lived with Badalyan and where Leo was born. A fundraising page was launched to support the new father and his baby, and has raised more than $340,000.
“Thanks everyone — we are stunned beyond words at the incredible support and love you've shown,” Forrest tweeted.
The father’s friend, who manages the fundraiser, expressed his thanks to supporters around the globe. “He is a lucky guy to have the support of thousands of friends like you around the world,” the friend said. “Some of the additional funds that we have raised will be used to secure better living conditions in Auckland, and to give Leo higher quality opportunities when it comes to education — a good home and school cost money. Leo will have all that and more, thanks to you.”