After Samuel Forrest’s son was born on January 21st in an Armenian hospital, Forrest had some big decisions to make — and it’s safe to say that he ended the day as an early contender for 2015 Dad of the Year.
Forrest’s son, Leo, was born perfectly healthy save for one “problem,” according to the doctors: Leo has Down Syndrome.
The condition didn’t faze Forrest one bit — but his wife, Ruzan Badalyan, didn’t feel the same way. She wanted to give Leo up for adoption because of his condition, and she gave her husband an ultimatum: either Leo went, or she went.
Forrest is originally from New Zealand and, according to ABC News, he wasn’t aware of “the hospital practices in Armenia when it came to children.” In other words, surrendering infants because they have special medical conditions or birth defects is a very, very common practice in Armenia.
“[That’s] what happens when a baby like this is born here,” Forrest told ABC News, “They will tell you that you don’t have to keep them. My wife has already decided [to give Leo up for adoption], so all of this was done behind my back.”
Forrest’s decision didn’t take long — he immediately stated that he was taking Leo home, with or without his wife.
One week after Leo was born, Badalyan filed for divorce. Unfortunately, as Forrest has told the press, he regrets that the issue has turned into such a public one. But on the other hand, the publicity has given attention to a serious problem involving child care and parenting strategies — which are difficult enough to begin with, but become even harder to handle along with a divorce, too.
So now it’s time for the silver lining in this story: Not only did Forrest take Leo with him, but he plans on bringing Leo back to New Zealand — where the boy will be welcomed and loved — and thousands of people have donated money to make this move possible. Forrest created an online campaign on GoFundMe to raise money for the trip back, hoping to raise about $60,000. After 10 days, the campaign raised over $360,000 for the family.