Armenian Father Refuses to Give Up Down Syndrome Son, Wife Divorces Him Over It

LeoA father in Armenia says that he is refusing to give up his down syndrome son even though his wife has divorced him over his decision to keep the baby.

Samuel Forrest told reporters this week that in Armenian culture, children with down syndrome are viewed as bringing shame upon a family. So when his wife, Ruzan Badalyn, gave birth last month to a baby boy with the condition, she would have nothing to do with him. According to Forrest, Badalyn wouldn’t touch or even look at the baby, who has been named Leo.

“What happens when a baby like this is born here, they will tell you that you don’t have to keep them,” he told ABC News. “My wife had already decided, so all of this was done behind my back.”

Forrest said that he did not know that his child had down syndrome until after he was born, and even then, for a time he was not permitted to see his wife or baby.

“When the doctor came out, he said, ‘There’s a real problem with your son,'” he recalled. “When I walked into the room, they all turned to me and said, ‘Leo has Down syndrome.’ I had a few moments of shock.”

But Forrest said that abandoning his son never crossed his mind.

“I said, ‘He’s beautiful, he’s perfect and I’m absolutely keeping him,” he remembered.

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However, Forrest’s wife did not feel the same way. She told him that if he did not give up the baby, she would leave him. Badalyn filed for divorce a week later.

Realizing that he was left to raise baby Leo on his own, Forrest soon launched a crowd funding campaign to help cover expenses as he planned to fly back to his home country of New Zealand.

“Health professionals estimate that 98% of all Down Syndrome babies born in Armenia are abandoned every year,” the GoFundMe page reads. “These abandoned babies are often placed in squalid orphanages, where they live and die, rejected and forgotten by society.”

“Your support of Leo will also help draw healthy attention to this enormous problem—Armenia’s hidden shame—and help the push for change, education and acceptance for Armenia’s forgotten babies,” it continues.

While Forrest originally sought to raise $60,000 for the effort, he soon found the campaign far surpassing its goals. As of press time, the total for the fundraiser exceeded $427,000.

He says that because of the success of the campaign, some of the funds will also be used to help other children in similar plights as Leo.

“After what I’ve been through with Leo, I’m not going to sit back and watch babies be sent to orphanages,” Forrest told reporters. “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.”


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  • Fundisi

    This world has always celebrated the ideal of “mother love,” it was a source of comfort that women were vessels God could use as examples of His sacrificial love. Where is the love in this mother? I thank God this father did not look at the so-called defects, did not want this child aborted; but is willing to sacrifice his life, his comfort for his child, to accept all the trials ahead because of his love for his son. May God forgive this heartless mother.

  • James Grimes

    A father loves his son – unconditionally; the way it is suppose to be.

  • Disqusdmnj

    What an awesome story! I love how many donations the father received as well. True humanity.

  • bowie1

    His son still is a beautiful baby. I volunteer with people who have Down Syndrome and other intellectual handicaps and they are great human beings.

  • The Last Trump

    Sounds like he married an American woman. Imagine! An innocent new born baby somehow brings SHAME to the parents!?

    The only one bringing shame to this family is the MOTHER. God bless this loving father who chose “shame” and hardship over a life of comfort with his wife. He took responsibility for a defenseless human being because LOVE IS WHAT YOU DO.
    And it often costs you something.

    Just look at what Jesus did for you and me. 🙁

    • Suz

      Hey I know plenty of American women (me being one of them) who are completely disgusted by what this woman did! I don’t know ANY one personally that would abandon their own child at birth like this for any reason 🙁 Based on this story which says “Health professionals estimate that 98% of all Down Syndrome babies born in Armenia are abandoned every year” It sounds much more like an Armenian problem!

  • Jessica Hart

    “12% of Armenian children with special needs have single mothers, only 1% have single fathers. Consider that it is a common daily event, around the world, for mothers – and not just mothers of special needs children – to find themselves suddenly alone to raise their babies. Consider the single mothers who choose to adopt special needs kids. Yet they rarely get applause or outpourings of donations for it. Instead, when moms raise children alone, they get excoriated as “bad for society.”

    • Fundisi

      Why is she single? By choice? Was it because she did not seek God to bring her to His choice of a Christian mate for life and she was driven by her emotions and lusts into marrying the wrong man? Were the vast majority of them not serving God in their hearts and so got themselves in a bad situation when their husbands were worthless and abandoned them. You must ask these questions, before you call them all worthy of praise or support.

      Yes, I blame the sinful, selfish husbands for abandoning some of these women, with a whole heart I applaud any woman that would unselfishly give her life to love and raise such children, women have historically been more inclined to suffer and die for their children and often to take to their bosom, even children not their own that were in need. I do think in our liberal society most of these women are getting a great deal of help from the State.

      Nonetheless, this mother failed the test and in this case the father, praise God, rose to the occasion.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    He did the right thing. You can’t help the wrong party leaving you.

  • Michael North

    I thought Armenians were Christians.

  • TheBBP

    Hopefully New Zealand has Child Support laws and he makes her help pay.