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Mother Accused of Abandoning Newborn with Down Syndrome Says Divorce Ultimatum Is 'Absolutely Not True'

( [email protected] ) Feb 09, 2015 01:05 AM EST

Leo Forrest
Leo Forrest was born with Down Syndrome and will be living with his father in new Zealand. Photo: Samuel Forrest

After a father made the claim last week that he refused to give up his newborn baby with Down Syndrome when threatened with divorce, his wife came forward to tell a different story.

We told you the story last week of Samuel Forrest, a man who says he was given the ultimatum by his wife to either keep their mentally handicapped child or go through with a divorce. The claim was made that his wife, Ruzan Badalyan, gave him the choice because of how disabilities are viewed in Armenia, where the two lived. But Forrest, being originally from New Zealand, didn't understand the problem and wanted to do whatever he could to keep the baby, even if it meant divorcing his wife.

However, Ruzan has now spoken out about the incident, saying that the ultimatum was a lie, and she had to give the baby up for his own good.

"I remember the sad faces of my relatives and the doctors and the diagnosis that sounded like a verdict: 'Your child was born with a Down syndrome.' One can never imagine my feelings at that moment," the mother wrote in a prepared statement to press and also posted on her Facebook wall. "Hardly had I recovered from the first shock, when the doctor approached me and told me to voice my decision whether I was going to keep Leo or not. I had to make the most ruthless decision in my life within several hours."

Badalyan continued, "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.

"I saw the evasive looks of the doctors, my relatives' tear-stained faces, received calls of condolences and realised that only a move to a country with such standards as New Zealand would entitle my son to a decent life."

The way Badalyan describes it, she never gave the ultimatum to Forrest, but instead, says that he told her that he was leaving the country with little Leo and she had no say in the situation.

"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."

Badalyan isn't claiming that Forrest took the child by force or anything malicious, but says that her side of the story explains a bit more about her thought process leading up to the father's total custody of the child to New Zealand.

"Sam has never suggested joining him and bringing up the child together in his country," wrote Badalyan. "Neither did he tell me anything on the day we filed for divorce. The only thing he kept saying was that he didn't want us to separate, whereas my question what we should do always remained unanswered."

Badalyan says that her stress and depression, combined with the pressure from the doctors and her husband, has been the most difficult part as she made that final decision to let baby Leo go with his father to New Zealand. But she claims that she only had two options: "to take care of the child on my own in Armenia, or to abandon my maternal instincts and extend the baby an opportunity to enjoy a decent life with his father in New Zealand. I went for the second option." 

Badalyan doesn't mention why leaving Armenia to live with Sam and Leo in New Zealand wasn't an option.