Is this the feelbad story of the day, that any parent could make this ultimatum of another? Or is it the feelgood story of the day because dad insisted on keeping him?
Sounds like the little guy’s diagnosis took the couple by surprise, which seems plausible. If Armenia is anything like America, a prenatal confirmation of Down’s means he almost certainly never would have made it this far.
“I got the ultimatum right then,” [Samuel Forrest] said. “She told me if I kept him then we would get a divorce.”
Attempts to reach the hospital for comment weren’t immediately successful. The baby’s mother, Ruzan Badalyan, told ABC News that she did have a child with Down syndrome and she has left her husband, who has the child, but she declined to elaborate.
Forrest, who’s from Auckland, New Zealand, said he was completely unaware of the hospital practices in Armenia when it came to children.
“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.”
“The mother refused to even look at or touch the newborn for fear of getting attached in a society where defects are not accepted, often bringing shame on the family involved.” says the, er, GoFundMe donations page set up by Forrest to help him pay for Leo’s return to New Zealand and care for the next year. It stands at a cool 260,000 bucks and counting as I write this. The amount of money involved makes it seem suspicious: As a sob story, you can scarcely do better than “struggling single parent loves disabled child, even if his own mom doesn’t.” If it’s a scam, though, how do you explain the fact that ABC was able to track down little Leo’s mother? What woman would pretend to be this callous and put her own name to it, knowing how much venom is coming her way? It’s so awful, it almost has to be legit. No one would cop to this unless they were sincerely guilty.
Then again, mom isn’t copping to it, is she? She says she left her husband and she knew the child was disabled, but she doesn’t say that the disability was her impetus for leaving. Maybe she’s simply too ashamed in hindsight, or afraid of the attention from international media, to confirm Forrest’s story. Or maybe Forrest, inadvertently or deliberately, is misstating her reasons for divorce. It does seem hard to believe, though, that a mom would leave a newborn with his father and scram if her objections to their life together didn’t somehow involve the kid. And if this is a case where Forrest took the child from her against her will, presumably she would have told ABC that in her own defense. I want to believe this is a big con, just because the alternative — it’s all true — seems even more horrible. But the likeliest explanation is that it’s true, no?
If this story hasn’t singlehandedly ruined your weekend, here’s a companion piece from last fall that ought to cinch it.