ARMENIA (ANM) – Samuel Forrest was expecting to have the best day of his life while waiting outside the hospital room for his son to be born, but things took an unexpected and unfortunate turn.
“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 Forrest followed the bundle and entered the room the doctors turned to him and told him that his son has down-syndrome, a genetic disorder also known as trisomy 21 that causes the presence of a third copy of chromosome 21.
This news, however, wasn’t the unexpected or unfortunate turn.
Forrest was married to an Armenian woman and he was from New Zealand and although birth defects in New Zealand are accepted much as how birth defects are accepted in the United States, Armenian culture is much different.
“I got the ultimatum right then,” Forrest said. “She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce.”
Forrest asserts that he was unaware of the customs involving child birth and defects in Armenia, “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 nonetheless kept Leo and his wife filed for divorce a week later effectively abandoning her son Leo in the process.
Because Forrest has bravely and rightly taken the responsibility to raise Leo as a single parent, he wishes to go back to New Zealand and raise his son so Forrest has set up a gofundme page in hopes that people will hear his story and assist him to make life better for him and Leo.
Forrest writes, ‘Leo Forrest was born on 21st January 2015 with Down Syndrome, in Armenia. His Armenian mother and her family abandoned him at birth. His father, a New Zealander, was no longer welcome in the family home because he wanted to ‘keep’ Leo. 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.’