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Nearly 400K Raised for Dad Who Chose Baby With Down Syndrome Over Wife

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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated February 6, 2015
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Image: Samuel Forrest via Facebook

Two weeks ago, Samuel Forrest was faced with a heartbreaking ultimatum.

The new dad, an Armenian resident, received the news that his son Leo was born with Down syndrome. His reaction? “He’s beautiful — he’s perfect and I’m absolutely keeping him.” His wife’s reaction? If you keep him, we’re getting divorced.

A week later, the divorce papers were filed.

“It’s not what I want,” Forrest told ABC News of the split. “I didn’t even have a chance to speak with her in privately about it.” But thanks to an overwhelming amount of praise and support, the father knows he’s making the right choice.

In Armenia, discarding a mentally ill baby is not exactly taboo. But this was news to Forrest, a native of Auckland, New Zealand. “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.”

What’s next for the family? Father and son will likely head back to New Zealand, where Forrest has supportive family members. But in the meantime, he’s created a GoFundMe page, called “Bring Leo Home,” to raise $60,000 to help with the cost of raising Leo. Thanks to generous donors, by Friday evening that amount was over $397,115 and counting.

“This really came out of the blue for me,” he said. “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.”

He’s also starting to collaborate with disability awareness groups to better educate parents of children with Down syndrome. “They’re a little different from us, but they’re still normal,” he says of people with the disease. “They all have niches and I want to work hard to find out where Leo’s special. This little guy is great.”

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