How Should We Respond to a Mother Abandoning her Down Syndrome Baby?

{By Ellery Sadler}

bring baby leo home down syndrome

In the wake of baby Leo and his story, isn’t it crazy how quick people are to judge his mom?

I heard the story last night and read through the news article. Granted, news sites aren’t necessarily the place to get the truth, but this is what the average person has to go on.

Baby Leo was born with Down syndrome, and his Armenian mother decided to give him up for adoption. This is not unusual in the Armenian culture, where having a special needs child is viewed as shameful and these children are not given many opportunities. When the father, Samuel Forrest, decided he absolutely wanted his baby boy, he was allegedly given an ultimatum: ‘Me or the baby.’ And he chose the baby. So now he is facing a divorce and the task of raising his son on his own.

While it is shocking that a mother could abandon her son, the social media outrage over this mother’s choice is also shocking.

As a Christian, I think it’s interesting how quickly the media condemns someone, without even hearing or considering their side of the story.

We have no idea this woman’s inner conflict over the decision. We have no idea what it was like of growing up in an Armenian culture. We have no idea what her family and her friends were pressuring her to do. It is easy to judge her and easy to condemn her, but I think that we need to understand that she has come from an entirely different heritage and way of life. Yes, it is wrong to give up your child. Yes, it is horrific that so many babies are abandoned or aborted or abused.

But put yourself in her place for a moment. Empathize. Maybe she has a different side to the story.

Can you imagine her loss? Can you imagine her pain?

Her beautiful baby boy, who she’s been carrying for the last nine months and dreaming about and hoping for, all her plans for his future and their life together, are gone in a single moment. Don’t tell me her heart didn’t go out to Leo. Don’t tell me she didn’t see his sweet face and ache to hold him. This is her child. Her baby.

Yes, it was her choice. But her choice has been bred into her by a culture that marginalizes special needs children. I don’t think it was a decision made out of hate, but of hurt and fear. Her culture, her family, is hurt and broken. Her heart must be bleeding right now – she’s lost both son and husband.

Samuel Forrest did the right thing. He is to be commended for his faithful, unconditional love for his new baby boy. But I think a little grace, a little understanding for his wife is a better response than vilification. Maybe instead of divorce, they should have both moved to New Zealand and raised Leo together.

I wonder what would happen, if instead of shouting hateful things to a heartbroken woman, we paused for a moment and prayed for her. For her family. For her country. For her culture. For her husband. For her baby.


To help support baby Leo and his dad, visit their Bring Leo Home campaign here