Saturday 21 October 2017

'I'm keeping him' - Man chooses son with Down Syndrome over wife following divorce ultimatum

Clare Cullen

Clare Cullen

A New Zealand man will raise his special needs child alone after his wife issued him with an ultimatum - give up the child or get divorced.

Samuel Forrest chose his son, saying "he's perfect and I'm absolutely keeping him".

Despite a "few moments of shock" upon hearing the news, Forrest reportedly fell in love with the child after he held him.

"I looked at this guy and I said, he's beautiful".

The child was born on January 21 in a hospital in Armenia.  It has been reported that his wife requested the child be given up for adoption upon learning of his disability.

“She told me if I kept him, then we would get a divorce,” Forrest told ABC News.

The new father has set up an online fundraiser to help support him and his son since the marriage has dissolved.

Forrest plans to move back to New Zealand with little Leo, having reached his goal of $60,000.

"We are stunned beyond words at the incredible support and love you’ve shown for little Leo", he posted to the page.

"He is a lucky guy to have the support of thousands of friends like you around the world".

Forrest says that the funds will be used to "give Leo higher quality opportunities when it comes to education" and secure "better living conditions in Auckland".

"A good home and school cost money, but Leo will have all that and more, thanks to you".

Forrest will donate some of the money raised to "fund facilities and programs" in Armenia that support parents of children with disabilities, and "the only" orphanage in Armenia that takes abandoned children with Down Syndrome.

One donator to Leo's fundraiser, Lori Anderson, donated $1,000.

"As a mommy of a precious little girl with Down Syndrome, Leo's mom has lost the chance of the blessings that come to the lucky parents who are given the gift of raising such a special child".

"Our little girl has given us the gift to be better people".

Forrest's wife filed for divorce one week after Leo was born and he reports that he is "no longer welcome" in her family home.

UNICEF report that there is "little awareness about the disabled" in Armenia, with special needs children sometimes being "institutionalised".

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