Wife of Dad of Newborn Son With Down Syndrome Who Said to Pick Him or Her: “I Put My Baby First”

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 9, 2015   |   7:34PM   |   Washington, DC

The woman who drew international condemnation for telling her husband to pick between her or his newborn son with Down syndrome, is responding to the firestorm of controversy.

Ruzan Badalyan gave birth to Leo on January 21 in an Armenian hospital and her husband Samuel Forrest described how he abandoned him due to his ‘shameful’ condition. Now, she is disputing his recollection of the events as “absolutely not true” and says they agreed it would be best for their son for him to live in New Zealand, where Forrest is from.

Here’s more:

The woman accused of abandoning her Down syndrome son has hit back at her husband’s claims and said she had to make a ‘ruthless decision’ in the best interests of the child.

Ruzan Badalyn gave birth to baby Leo on January 21 in an Armenian hospital but within hours, she had allegedly filed for divorce from her husband Sam Forrest after he refused to give up on their child.


She became a hate-figure around the world after Sam claimed his wife of eighteen months handed him an ultimatum: her, or his newborn son.  But an angry Ruzan has now disputed his version of events and said the couple had agreed that baby Leo would have a better quality of life if he was raised in his father’s native New Zealand.

Ruzan, who confirmed that she has filed for divorce, released a statement of her version of events on Facebook.

That version of events contends that she didn’t want her son to live in Armenia, which she claims discriminates against disabled people.

The first thing that came to my mind after the diagnosis was that I don’t want my child to live in a country where certain stereotypes dominate the lives of people with DS and no opportunities at all. I want him to be involved and well-received in society, an integration that will require years and years for our society to adjust to.

This fact was not disputed by my spouse either, who occasionally claims in his articles that the baby can’t afford the life he deserves in Armenia. Thus, I spent the hours after Leo’s birth trying to collect my will and decide on the best destiny for the kid.

‘Everyone in our family realised that the baby’s interests should be placed first and only his move to another country could remedy the situation, something that Sam himself also accepted.


Ruzan says Forrest went to the media to spread a false story.

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‘Without giving me any option and trying to find with me any solution in this hardest situation, he started to circulate the story on every possible platform without even trying to give me a voice accusing that I put him an ultimatum marriage or the baby, which is absolutely not true.

In an interesting wrinkle to the story, now Forrest says he forgives Ruzan.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, he said: ‘I don’t hold anything against Ruzan. I wanted this personal responsibility and I’ve assumed it for Leo and she’s also made her own decisions.

‘I am fully sympathetic about the societal pressures and issues with the culture. There are many factors that come into play.’

He also said that he still believes the couple have a future together and added: ‘I adore her and I want to carry through those memories for Leo. I want him to know how good his mum was. I’ll hold out the possibility in the future that there will be the possibility of a connection.

As he tells it, Forrest was excited to be a new dad and was pacing the halls of the hospital outside his wife’s hospital room when he heard his newborn son cry for the first time. But when the doctor left the room, Samuel saw a look on his face that alerted him something was wrong.

Doctors and hospital staff refused to let Samuel see his son, named Leo.

“When the doctor came out, he said ‘there’s a real problem with your son,’” Samuel told ABC News.

The doctor told Samuel that his son Leo had Down syndrome and, though he admitted he was shocked by the news, Samuel said that he never envisioned not taking his son home from the hospital. But his wife had other plans. When Samuel entered his wife’s room, she told him he would have to either give up his son or she would file for divorce.

Samuel decided to keep his son and, a week later, his wife filed for divorce.

Now, Samuel says he plans to move back to his home country of New Zealand and raise his son, but he is worried about not being able to financially provide for his little boy. Samuel has has set up a GoFundMe page that is already drawing worldwide interest and support — with well over $440,000 given to help Samuel and Leo.