First Time Dad Refuses to Give Up on His Special Needs Son; Launches GoFundMe Campaign For Living Costs

Leo Forrest

Auckland, New Zealand native and first time father, Samuel Forrest, was so excited when his wife told him that they were expecting a child. Everything went well during the pregnancy and there were no worries what’s so ever on the delivery day. Unfortunately, Forrest’s life changed forever when Armenia doctors, who were present at the birthing, revealed unexpected news.

Sam and Leo ForrestDuring a recent interview with ABC News, Forrest stated, “This pediatrician walks out of the room with a little bundle – that was Leo. 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.’

“When I walked into the room, they all turned to me and said, ‘Leo has Down Syndrome.’ 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.”

But his wife, Ruzan Badalyan, reacted way differently than Forrest expected. “I got the ultimatum right then. She told me if I kept him, then we would get a divorce.”

Leo Forrest 2Explaining details about the Armenian hospital’s process, Forrest noted, “What happens when a baby like this is born [at the Armenia hospital], they will tell you that you don’t have to keep them. My wife had already decided, so all of this was done behind my back.”

Refusing to give Leo up, Forrest’s wife filed for divorce one week after the birth. Forrest said, “It’s not what I want. I didn’t even have chance to speak with her in [private] about it.”

Despite the devastating news, Forrest continues to remain dedicated to his son and has launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to raise enough funds to be able to care of Leo for at least for the first year.Forrest, who is a freelance business contractor, revealed that he’s planning to move back to New Zealand, but is having a difficult time with money. “This really came out of the blue for me. 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 mommy.”

Leo Forrest 3The new dad also noted that he is currently working with disability awareness groups to share his story in the hopes that parents of children with special needs will become more educated. “After all I’ve been through with Leo, I’m not going to sit back and watch babies be sent to orphanages. 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.”

Within 10 days, 9,100 supporters have taken to crowdfunding platform and have raised over $260,000.


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