A YEAR ago Samuel Forrest hit the headlines when his wife made him choose between her or their Down’s syndrome baby. If he gave their newborn son Leo away, Ruzan told him, she would stay with him. If not she would file for divorce.
The brave and loving dad chose little Leo – who was born in Ruzan’s native Armenia – and the couple split. But a year on Samuel has revealed they have called off the divorce and has praised her as a “wonderful mother,”
Sam explained that he refused to give up his son, despite his wife’s ultimatum. He said: “I looked at this little guy and I said, he’s beautiful — he’s perfect and I’m absolutely keeping him.”
He set up a GoFundMe page explaining his plight and asked for £35,000 to help him return to his home country. New Zealand, raise Leo and work part time. In just a few days he had raised £350,000.
Now, a year on he has managed to sort things out with his wife Ruzan. “He’s generally a very happy kid,” Samuel told ABC. “He’s got a sense of humour ... in many ways he’s not really different than a lot of other children.
“He’s got a lot of challenges, but to bring out the best of him you have to work with him differently than you would do another child.” He explained that Ruzan didn’t understand what Down’s syndrome was and later regretted her decision to get a divorce.
“It was pretty clear that the main things were cultural and huge pressure. About three-and-half weeks later, Ruzan got in touch with me through a friend and we ended up having a candid conversation through Skype. I finally agreed to meet her and she held little Leo for the first time.
He added: “Before this, she had no idea what Down's syndrome really was, or that there was hope. The doctors had told her Leo would never learn to walk, or talk or feed himself.” Ruzan was widely criticised for “abandoning” her son and told ABC News she felt like the “world was against her” after the couple’s story went global.
“I read all the comments and there were some positive comments, but now when I look back, they’d say ‘Why would you leave your child?’” she said. “I didn’t like the feeling, it was really bad. I thankfully forgot about it. I am very grateful my family gave me a chance because I don’t know what I would do without them. It made me really happy.
“At first I was very, very scared because I didn’t know what Down syndrome was like. Doctors said he would be like a vegetable. It was very scary. I think I was also very selfish and then there was depression ... all of that together. “I love Leo very much,” she said. “One year ago, I couldn’t imagine life with him and now, I can’t really imagine my life without him.
He’s changed me so much. I can say I’m a different person now.”Ruzan now lives in New Zealand with Samuel and Leo and the couple have cancelled plans to divorce. “She’s turned out to be a wonderful mother,” Samuel said.