Culture

Why Dad Will Not Give Up Another Child with Down Syndrome

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The only thing more complicated than a relationship is parenthood. Samuel Forrest may know that better than most of us. What he didn’t know was that his newly adopted country of Armenia has commitment issues, and suffers from a Messiah complex.

Samuel and his new bride Ruzan entered the hospital together with the usual high expectations that accompany the birth of a new baby. They exited separately, heading for a divorce court to end their 18 month marriage, their personal agony going viral and the dark secret of Armenia held up to world-wide scrutiny.

One can only imagine that for Samuel this baby with a new wife held the promise of restoring everything he left behind in New Zealand: his home, the four children — one with Down Syndrome — and the church he grew up in. Excommunication by the Exclusive Brethren church for divorcing his first wife also carried the punishment of being shunned by his extended family. With nothing left for him in New Zealand he moved to Armenia.

Fast-forward to the moment all expectant parents live for, labor day. Apparently, their son’s birth required the couple’s separation and Ruzan was not fully conscious for the birth of Leo. She describes her first moments as awaking to “alarmed” faces around her: 

My first question was about the whereabouts of my child. 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.

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. (DailyMail.com)

The evasive looks from doctors, the tear-stained faces of family, the calls of condolences — all weighed heavy on the new mother. Not only did she make the “ruthless” decision within several hours to not keep her baby and to send him to an orphanage, she also decided it without her husband.

Samuel didn’t play by the rules; instead, he cradled his son in his arms and fell in love. Then his wife informed him that she would divorce him if he kept the baby. Ruzan made good on her promise.

Alone, and needing to get his newborn son out of Armenia, Samuel started the GoFundMe campaign to “Bring Leo Home.” It has made ripples across oceans and cyberspace, garnering $497,645 in only 15 days.

On the surface, it looks like there are just two sides to this story.

But there is more at play here…

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At first glance this looks like the story of a father, abandoned and alone with his newborn Down Syndrome child. One parent doing the noble thing, the other being cold-hearted, demanding and self-centered. 

She’s being judged and ridiculed, when it is the ideology that produced this scenario that’s deserving of both judgment and ridicule.

There is a clash of cultural beliefs here, and it’s not just about whether or not a Downs child is a valuable human life. That is only the presenting symptom of a deeper problem.

This is a culture that has allowed a government, by way of its laws, funding, and social acceptance, to step into the human condition as its Savior.

They are not required, or even encouraged, to accept this child, either socially or legally. They are asked to reject it at birth. Then, to ensure that there isn’t a chance of maternal instincts taking over, she doesn’t take the baby into her arms. Instead, she is confronted immediately with the problem–then the answer.

The suffering she will most likely endure with a child with disabilities can all be taken care of by turning the child over to hospital authorities and the orphanage.

It always strikes me how this type of thinking views suffering of any kind as immoral, without reward or redemption. And to ensure our God-given human conscience is not impacted and roused to rise to the occasion, it is caressed into submission with the pretty lie that it is “for the good of the child.”

This mother, still emotionally knotted from the ordeal of childbirth, is not given the opportunity to fall in love. The most basic human instinct of holding an infant after birth is withheld. Instead, she was manipulated, and given a way to escape the human condition of imperfection.

The sad irony is, as we have seen throughout history, the very people that institutional powers claim to help become the victims of a more cruel fate. So far it’s robbed a little boy of his mother and destroyed a family.

The human spirit naturally resists pain and suffering. It’s easily tempted to flee it. However, when forced to press-in, with love and compassion as the catalyst, incredible things happen.

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Photos from Bring Leo Home