Unbeknownst to Samuel Forrest when he moved to Armenia with his wife, Eastern Europe isn’t a hospitable place for disabled infants. When an infant is born with a disability, like Downs Syndrome, parents are immediately given the choice to give up their children, and tragically, most parents decide to do so. The world isn’t a hospitable place for disabled children, given the 90% abortion rate for babies who test positive for Downs in the United States.
When Forrest’s wife gave birth to their son, hospital administrators initially hid his face from the father until they could explain what was “wrong” with his son. When Forrest saw him he said “he’s beautiful — he’s perfect.” Doctors made the offer that Forrest could abandon his son, but he adamantly refused.
What was shocking, though, was his wife’s reaction to the situation. ABC News explains,
“I got the ultimatum right then,” he said. “She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce.”
Attempts to reach the hospital for comment weren’t immediately successful. The baby’s mother, Ruzan Badalyan, told ABC News that she did have a child with Down syndrome and she has left her husband, who has the child, but she declined to elaborate.
Forrest is now on his way back to his native New Zealand alone (without his wife) where he has a support system to help care for his son Leo. Not only has Forrest worked hard to give his own son a better life, but he is now also working on behalf of kids like Leo, who through an accident of fate were born special in the wrong place at the wrong time. ABC News discussed the work Forrest is doing on behalf of other disabled children in Eastern Europe as well,
Forrest has recently been working with disability awareness groups to share his story in the hopes that parents will become better educated on children with special needs.
“After what I’ve been through with Leo, I’m not going to sit back and watch babies be sent to orphanages,” he said. “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.
“They all have niches and I want to work hard to find out where Leo’s special. This little guy is great.”
Comment below! Do you think Forrest should have left his son and stayed with his wife?