February 6, 2015 12:01 pm
Updated: February 6, 2015 5:14 pm

Dad refuses to give up son with Down syndrome after wife’s ultimatum


TORONTO — A father was forced to choose between his newborn with Down syndrome and the child’s mother when she threatened him with divorce.

Samuel Forrest faced the ultimatum just hours after his son was born in an Armenian hospital last month.

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“This paediatrician walks out of the room with a little bundle — that was Leo,” Forrest told ABC News. “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.'”

Medical staff walked Forrest into a room where doctors allowed him to see his son for the first time. That’s where they told him Leo had Down syndrome.

“I had a few moments of shock,” the New Zealand-born father said.

According to ABC, Forrest took his son to see his wife of 18 months.

“I got the ultimatum right then,” he said. “She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce.”

In Armenia, it’s reportedly common for families to abandon children born with disabilities.

“My wife had already decided, so all of this was done behind my back,” Forrest said.

Ruzan Badalyan filed for divorce a week later.

The now-single father, who reportedly works as a freelance contractor, set up a GoFundMe page to help raise enough to get him and his son to New Zealand.

The fundraiser dubbed “Bring Leo Home (Down Syndrome)” was setup on Jan. 27 with a goal of reaching $60,000.

As of Friday, over $210,000 had been raised.

“Thanks everyone – we are stunned beyond words at the incredible support and love you’ve shown for little Leo,” reads a post on the funding page. “Nine days after we started our campaign, Leo and I found out in the wee hours of morning that we had crossed our target!”

According to the GoFundMe page, Forrest said he plans to use some of the additional money to help fund facilities and programs in Armenia that will support future parents who keep children with disabilities.

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