World raises $603,740 for Down syndrome boy

Sam Forrest with baby Leo. Photo: ABC

Sam Forrest with baby Leo. Photo: ABC

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised to help a New Zealand man bring his son with Down syndrome to live in New Zealand from Armenia, though the mother disputes claims she abandoned the baby.

More than $US470,966 ($A603,740) has been raised on a crowd funding page set up for Leo Forrest, who was born on January 21, 2015 with Down syndrome, in Armenia.

Sam Forrest with baby Leo. Photo: ABC

Sam Forrest with baby Leo. Photo: ABC

The goal of the page was to raise $US60,000.

The page says his Armenian mother and her family abandoned him at birth and his father, New Zealander Samuel Forrest, wants to raise Leo in Auckland.

“The mother refused to even look at or touch the newborn for fear of getting attached in a society where defects are not accepted, often bringing shame on the family involved,” the page says.

Donations have been made from people around the world and the case is getting extensive media coverage in the UK.

A post on the page said money raised over the goal would be used to give Leo a better life in Auckland and some given to fund facilities and programs in Armenia.

A statement from the mother, Ruzan Badalyan, has been run by the and says she did not want Leo to be raised in Armenia where “certain stereotypes dominate the lives of people with DS”.

“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.”

She said Mr Forrest did not work and did not support her in the hospital.

“He left the hospital notifying me hours later that he was taking the kid with him, that he is going to leave the country for New Zealand and I do not have anything to do with the situation.”

He started circulating the story “on every possible platform” that “I put him an ultimatum marriage or the baby, which is absolutely not true”.

“Sam has never suggested joining him and bringing up the child together in his country.”

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