- Deseret News - Sunday, February 8, 2015

Samuel Forrest was given an ultimatum by his wife: Give up their newborn baby, who was born with Down syndrome, or get divorced.

Mr. Forrest chose the latter.

In a story that’s gone global, Mr. Forrest from Armenia sacrificed his marriage for the sake of his baby boy, Leo, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

According to BuzzFeed, Mr. Forrest initially felt shock when he learned his son would have Down syndrome. But when he held his baby for the first time, his mindset changed.

“I looked at this guy and I said, he’s beautiful,” Mr. Forrest said, according to BuzzFeed. “He’s perfect and I’m absolutely keeping him.”

His wife felt differently. BuzzFeed reported that Mr. Forrest’s wife, Ruzan Badalyan, immediately threated divorce if Mr. Forrest didn’t give up the baby. Forrest stuck by his son, and Ms. Badalyan filed for divorce a week later.

Though her complete reasons for divorce might be unclear, it may be because Armenia’s health care system has little awareness of disabled children, and it’s not a big part of their culture.

Still, divorce is never an ideal situation for families. According to a study from 2013, younger children from a family divorce feel the effects well into their adult lives. The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that children from divorce develop insecurities because of their parents’ separation, which lessens their confidence and keeps them from finding success in life.

Parents with a disabled child who divorce run into issues, too, especially with child and medical care costs. According to a report from lawyer Katherine N. Barr, parents often have to work out how they’ll split the costs of medical care, which can be a taxing process because costs can change over time. This is on top of normal child-care costs that parents have to pay when getting divorced.

But there’s plenty of help out there for parents of children with Down syndrome. WebMD suggests parents find a support system from family members, friends and the community to help them raise their child. Therapists can also help parents cope with the stresses of raising disabled children, according to WebMD.

A GoFundMe campaign has helped Mr. Forrest raise more than $180,000, which is over triple the amount of the original goal of $60,000, to care for his son.


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