Dad refuses to give up son with Down syndrome despite wife's threat of divorce
He never thought the best day of his life could also be the day his marriage ended.
Samuel Forrest and his Armenian wife, Ruzan Badalyan, had their son on Jan 21 this year and was immediately informed by the doctors that his son has Down syndrome,
"When I walked into the room, they all turned to me and said 'Leo has Down syndrome," he told ABC News. "I had a few moments of shock."
"They took me in to see him and I looked at this guy and I said, he's beautiful, he's perfect and I'm absolutely keeping him."
Forrest then received another shock from his wife.
"I got the ultimatum right then," he said. "She told me if I kept him, then we would get a divorce."
Forrest, who's from Auckland, New Zealand, said he didn't know about the hospital practices 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."
Despite his wife threatening to leave him, Forrest was not going to give up his baby.
One week after his birth, Leo's mum filed for divorce.
"It's not what I want," Forrest said. "I didn’t even have a chance to speak with her privately about it."
Forrest has since decided to move back to New Zealand to be with his family and has set up a page on the crowd-funding site GoFundMe to help 'Bring Leo Home'.
"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 mummy."
The amount was set by Forrest to be US$60,000, but within nine days, US$159,315 was donated and the donations haven't stopped.
Forrest posed on the site that he was stunned beyond words.
"Nine days after we started our campaign, Leo and I found out in the wee hours of the morning that we had crossed our target! He is a lucky guy to have the support of thousands of friends like you around the world."
Photos: GoFundMe, Facebook
In the meantime, Forrest hasn't wasted any time and has been working with disability awareness groups.
"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."
Sources: ABC News, GoFundMe