Friday, May 10, 2013

I am Sam

In the movie "I Am Sam" Sean Penn plays a high functioning mentally challenged man whose love for his daughter runs deep, but she is ultimately taken away from him and placed in foster care due to his mental illness. Tell me how you feel about the situation and do you think the government has the right to intervene in so called protecting children just because their parents maybe mentally challenged. Do some research on the termination of parental rights and persons suffering from mental disabilities. Also, look up the Americans with Disability Act and see what it says according to those suffering from mental disability and parental rights. Use examples from these Acts and personal opinion on the situation.

Due Monday @ 11:59pm


  1. The movie “I Am Sam” is about a man who loves his daughter deeply but his mental disorder inhibits their relationship when she gets put into foster care. Sam is a devoted father who would do anything for his daughter; however, his mental illness puts her at risk sometimes. When she was a little girl it was easier to care for her but while she was growing in age and knowledge, Sam was not. He was stuck at the same mental capacity, which many would argue was not high enough to care for a little girl. I think the situation between Sam and his daughter is difficult and heartbreaking. Sam clearly loves her so much but cannot do anything when she is taken away. I think Sam was a highly functioning man with a mental illness who tried so hard in terms with his daughter and for that reason should be allowed to raise her. However, I think Sam should have help raising his daughter. She will continue to grow and will eventually need to learn things like driving, which Sam could not teach her. I think the government has a right to protect the child and keep their best interest in mind, but in this case, the girl’s best interest was staying with her Dad. I think the government could provide some way in which the dad and daughter live at home with someone else who helps take care of them.

    After researching the termination of parental laws I learned that a parent’s right can be cancelled in they have a “long term mental illness or deficiency”. This factors in when the parents are unable to provide for the child’s basic needs. The action of terminating the parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary based on whether the parents are willing to give up their children. I think the statue that is in place though is too broad, I think that courts could take children away too easily with the little detail they have given to the mental illness statue. Also, I don’t think there is any way for the children to stay with their families and receive help, they are all just put into foster care or adopted by another family, which could be mentally unstable for the children.

    The American Disability Act is a law that was implemented in the 1990’s to prohibit the discrimination of people who suffer from a mental disability. The law defines a disability as, “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” The cases that use this law are not given a standard of normal; they are all based on their own separate case. The Supreme Court has looked at parental rights as “fundamental” rights, but they are different in the sense there is a third party, the child. In court to fully terminate the parental rights, they must prove by compelling evidence that the parent is unfit. The law held the tradition that the person to raise the child is the parents and made sure that without evidence of neglect, the child would stay with the parents.

  2. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became a law in 1990 and was amended in 2009. It forbids employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities in their jobs, including hiring, firing, training, and pay. It defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 intends to “Empower individuals with disabilities to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence and inclusion and integration into society through…the guarantee of equal opportunity” (NCD Ch3). This applies to human services programs, including health care and the child welfare system. In 1997, the Adoption and Safe Families Act established the federal foster care program and showed a shift from a focus to reunify families to putting the health and safety of children first and moving children to foster care and adoption quickly (NCD Ch5).

    Both the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act apply to the child welfare system which includes state agencies and courts that determine if the child should be removed from the parents. Parents with psychiatric disabilities are often stereotyped as being dangerous, and statistics show they are three times as likely to have child welfare involvement or lose custody of their children. A study also shows that children of women with serious mental illness are often put into foster care and a majority of these parents have lost custody of their children (NCD Ch5).

    Parents with intellectual or developmental disabilities face often face discrimination about their capability as parents. Chris Watkins at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work states, “Almost all studies have found a sizeable percentage of parents with developmental disabilities to be functioning within or near normal limits. In addition, many studies have found that parents labeled as mentally retarded can and do benefit from training and support” (NCD Ch12).

    Diane Marsh at the University of Pittsburgh studied the impact of serious mental illness on parenting. She found that, “when adult children were asked whether there had been any positive consequences of growing up with parental mental illness, a majority answered affirmatively. They mentioned becoming better and stronger people, having greater compassion and tolerance, acquiring knowledge and skills, developing healthier attitudes and priorities, achieving stronger family bonds, experiencing pride and satisfaction as their parent recovered, and gaining greater appreciation of life” (NCD Ch12). Another study by Stephanie Gwillim showed that the majority of children raised by parents with mental illness do not develop the same psychiatric disorder that their parents had and that being separated from a parent can have a negative impact on both the children and parents (NCD Ch12).

    I felt sad about the movie, “I Am Sam.” Sam is her dad. I think they shouldn’t punish the child and send them away just because the parent is mentally disabled. I was glad when Sam’s daughter was able to come home. I think it is ok for the government to intervene to help families where the parent is disabled, but not take the child away unless the disabled parent is harming the child or abusing the child in any way. Since there are positive consequences of being raised by a parent with mental illness, I believe a family should receive help so that they can stay together, such as assistance in dealing with the child welfare system and deadlines about foster care before losing custody, as well as services including counseling, education in parenting techniques, assistant care, day care, and an emergency child care plan.

    “Facts About the Americans With Disabilities Act.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008. Web. 11 May 2013.
    “Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children.” National Council on Disability (NCD), 2012. Web. 11 May 2013.

  3. In the movie "I Am Sam" we see a fathers love for his daughter, but it just doesn't seem enough for the people around him. Sam has the mental capacity of a seven year old, and when his daughter reaches that age, the people around her see Sam as an unfit father. I see it as the fact that Sam tried his hardest to raise Lucy as well as he could, I don't see it fair that the government has the right to take the the child away. I feel that Sam could have simply used help raising Lucy, but taking her away made Sam become secluded. With the help of his lawyer, Sam turns his life around, just to get his sweet daughter back. The people around them see that Sam doesn't have to be the perfect dad, but he loves Lucy more than anything, and no one can take that away from them. I understand the governments concern with a child living with a mentally disabled parent, but there should be an alternative other than splitting the family apart.

    Over 70-80% of parents with a mental illness lose custody of their children. Parent's rights are considered to be taken away when they are unable to take care of the basic necessities the child has. When terminating a parents rights, they can either be voluntary or involuntary depending on the willingness of the parties involved. Some states allow the child to remain in contact with their biological families, however some states do not allow this to happen in fear that it will cause a psychological strain on the child. The qualifications that these parents go through are quite broad, and just because they are handicapped does not mean they cannot provide for their child. Children whose families are handicapped are treated the same as those who are in an abusive, or neglective home when in all reality they receive more love than imagined.

    The American Disability Act deals with the discrimination of people with disabilities from public services, employment, and parental rights. Signed by George H.W. Bush in 1990. The Act states that their must be evidence that the parent is unfit in order to remove the child from the home. I think that this Act gives parents with disabilities the rights they deserve, because it's not just about the income, but the amount of love and support they offer the children.

  4. In addressing the main issue in "I Am Sam," about whether it should be legal for the government to take children away from mentally handicapped parents in certain cases, I cannot deny that it is a very nuanced and condition-based issue. From an outside perspective, I find the very idea of the government taking parental rights away from good-meaning parents who do not abuse their children to be distressing and somewhat suspicious. In a world where ever-increasing secular governments strive to indoctrinate children in the public schools of ideals absolutely contrary to those of their faith, especially the Christian faith, it does not surprise me of their taking every attempt to take children out of families in order to indoctrinate them further. I also see another side to this issue, however, where mentally handicapped parents cannot legitimately raise their children properly because they do not know how to; and I understand why the government should have an honest interest in providing a more traditional parental influence in the lives of these children. As a principle, I believe the government should always try to keep the child in the custody of the parents, whether they are both mentally handicapped or if it is a single mentally handicapped parent. If these parents are not able to teach the child something because they themselves cannot comprehend the idea, especially if their mind operates at a younger age than their child, then the government should require the visitation of a mentally sane influence, who could be voluntarily chosen by the parent, especially if they are affiliated with a religious group, or by a social worker, to make sure the child is understanding everything needed to flourish in life, especially as the child becomes an adolescent. If the parent is extremely deficit of any knowledge or compulsion of how to take care of a child, or does not care about the child, I see that as a case when the government could rightfully take the child away involuntary and send the child to an adoption agency.
    As for the laws concerning this topic, they vary between the states in how the government can go about the involuntary removal of parental rights if the parent is mentally handicapped. In all states, however, this issue is decided “pursuant to a hearing,” enabling the mentally handicapped parents to some chance of keeping their respective children (1). Also, it is a federal standard now that parents whose children are candidates for being taken away from them go to a “fitness hearing” to determine the “capacity and fitness” of the mentally handicapped parent (1). The Illinois Appellate Court ruled in 1980 in Helvey v. Rednour that the state cannot appoint a guardian to consent to adoption without the consent of the mentally handicapped parent unless a fitness hearing had been conducted, as required by the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, in the 1986 court case Adoption of Abigail, the court ruled that mental retardation is not a significant cause in itself to warrant the removal of parent rights. The mental retardation in the parent has to be shown to be detrimental toward the child’s well-being and towards the fitness of the parent before the parent is declared unfit to keep their child. And in the cases where the parent or parents are declared fit to raise their child yet still want to seek adoption, it must be made clear to them by the court of what adoption and the renunciation of parental rights entail, or else the adoption is void, per In re Adoption of Smith, a 1991 case. These state and local laws try to keep parental rights in the best of interest with mentally handicapped children (1).

  5. continued...
    There are still some issues with protecting the rights of mentally handicapped parents, even with the existence of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even though the ADA forbids discrimination from state and local governments in the areas of programs and services, its anti-discrimination laws do not cover child custody and child protection proceedings, leading to the continued existence of discrimination in this area (2). In my opinion, after reading about the provision of states toward the protection of parental rights, it is a shame that the ADA does not more readily enforce these areas of protection. There are a lot of emotional issues that come with taking a child away from parents that love him or her, especially when outside help is possible to assist the child in areas that the parents cannot understand, like how the YWCA offers to help Lucy with her Geometry in "I Am Sam." Although some parents are clearly dangerous because of their condition and others completely mentally incapacitated, there are still some with only minor retardation that should be given the chance to keep their children and raise them to the best of their ability.


  6. In the movie "I am Sam", it shows a man who is mentally retarded and trying to take care of his daughter Lucy. Lucy's mom takes off right after she was born, leaving Sam all alone to raise her. Lucy begins refusing to read books that her father can not read because she does not want to be smarter than her own father or hurt his feelings. This starts to show in the classroom and the teacher and school faculty confront him. It is a hard situation because Sam is permanently at the level of about a 6 year old and when Lucy is trying to grow and learn, it seems that Sam is holding her back. Lucy begins to play the parent role in the home. Once the government steps in and takes Lucy, Sam fights extremely hard for his daughter and is determined to win her back. He deeply loves Lucy and can't imagine his life without her. This movie opened my eyes to a situation I had never really thought about. Does the parent, even though mentally retarded, have a right to raise their own child even if it puts the child's learning ability and safety as well at risk? I think it depends on the situation.

    Their are many types of mentally disabled people. There is Mild, Moderate, Severe, and Profound. In my opinion, if the person falls under the Mild category and is capable of taking care of themself and another person then it would be fine for them to raise a child. It only becomes an issue when the child's education, safety and over all well-being is at risk.

    In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed by congress. This act prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination against disabled. In 2008, the ADA Amendments act was passed. This law was intended to give disabled workers more protection. These acts were passed in order to help protect the rights of mentally challenged people.

  7. The movie "I Am Sam" is a good portrayal of an ongoing battle between the government and the mentally challenged. It tells a story of a man with disabilities that has his daughter taken away from him, but because of his determinition and motivation powered by love, he is able to win her back. I think that in many cases, the government does in fact have a right to take a child away from a disabled parent. If the person proves to be completely unable to provide for the child, and/or treats the child in the wrong way, the government should definitely take matters into their own hands, and do whatever they can to protect the child. In other situations, though, the mentally challenged may be completely capable of raising the child; therefore, the government should leave the situation alone. Although it is crucial for a parent to be able to continuously teach the child new things, I think that love overpowers any smarts. A parent who truly loves and cares for his or her child may end up teaching the most important lesson in the end, which is definitely shown in the movie.

    Approximately six million people, or 3 percent of Americans, have mental disabilities. There are four levels: Mild, Moderate, Severe, and Profound. People with this disability learn at a much slower pace than those without it. They also like many social skills.

    The Americans with Disibilities Act was passed in 1990, prohibiting discrimination based on disability. It was meant to give more protection to the disabled.

  8. In the movie "I am Sam", Sam's daughter Lucy was taken from her due to the government thinking he could not provide for her. Sam shows love and affection to his daughter but couldn't give her the full care as far as money or intelligence goes. Sam at the time had the brain capacity of a 7 year old and when Lucy turned 7 they noticed it and brought up the case. I believe the government does have a right to be concerned and bring up a case but I do not believe they have the right to take a child away from t home. The only reason a child should be taken away from their home is from abuse or if the parents are physically or mentally depriving the child. Sam had taken care of Lucy for 7 solid years which are some of the hardest years to take care of a child. If they can take a child from Sam then why wouldn't they be able to take a child from someone with with barely any education and doesn't barely make money. The case should have ended with Lucy being able to stay with Sam as long as he has a healthy credible God mother or any helper that visits and takes care of her a certain amount of hours a week. Sam would also have to make a certain amount of income every week to physically take care of her.
    There are a few different laws pertaining to parents with a mental disability. A common statistic in each law is that 80% of parents with a mental disability lose the child. This isn't just discrimination though it is based on the amount of income or physical and mental stability the parent can provide. If the parent cannot provide enough they take their children away for good which I believe is more mentally damaging than if the parent could not provide.
    Established in 1990, the Americans with disabilities act was made to protect disabled Americans from discrimination in the work environment like hiring,firing,advancement, and job training etc. A person with a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of the impairment, or is regarded as having such an empairment. Basically as far as termination of parental rights go, it says that the parent must be unfit to provide for the child to have the child taken away. Therefore there has to be sufficient evidence that the child is not getting the care they deserve to carry on with a normal healthy lifestyle.

  9. In the movie I Am Sam, Sam shows his love for his daughter through every part of their day. He only wants what is best for her. I think that in this type of situation, it is unfair for the child to be taken against from her father, especially if it is against both of their wishes. I do think that as she gets older that she may need some help in different aspects of life that her father may not be best for, but he can get the help that he needs from close friends. However, if the parent is posing a threat to the child, I do believe that it is both of their interests to be able to take the child away.
    A California court has ruled that parental rights can be legally terminated when a parent poses a danger to his child, even if the danger results from a treatable mental disability. I do agree that this is the right thing to do in this situation, because if the parent does not take their medicine it could greatly affect the child and their future well-being. It is not fair to the child to have to live in a threatening situation against their will. However, if they want to live with their parent and their parent is doing nothing but loving and caring for them, no matter their IQ, they should still be able to live with them.
    Most if not all states seem to have the reoccurring theme of if the child is being well taken care of and does not look to be in danger, is allowed to remain in the care of their mentally handicapped parent. However, if there is a threat, they will be taken from the parent, only in their best interest.
    The Americans with Disability Act was made in 1990 and revised over the years but the point of it is to provide protection for the disabled people and hold to their rights no matter their IQ. It gives them opportunities, public services, transportation, and other provisions that could potentially be discriminating towards them. There must be visible evidence that the parent is not fit for raising their child in order to take them away.
    I agree with this Act because each person has a right to be able to do anything they want in this free country. Even with disabilities, people are still able to do a lot of the same things other people are. However, there are complications in some areas of their life and people have to be sensitive to that. But nobody should have their children taken from them simply because of a disability. They are just as able as anyone else to love and to cherish their children. Unless there is a viable reason to take the child from the parent, the child should remain with the parent if it is in both of their best interests.

  10. In the movie I Am Sam, it showed a mentally disabled man who was stuck with a newborn baby. Since he was the father, he was responsible for raising her and taking care of her. As she grew older, she continued to learn and grow mentally, while his mental state and intelligence stayed exactly the same. This problem became noticed and the situation was brought to court. I believe that it is okay for the court to intervene in these types of situations, but it depends on the mental capacity of the parent. In Sam’s case, I actually believe it was for the best that she was put into foster care. For example, in certain scenes of the movie, it showed us that Lucy was unwilling to learn anything that her father didn’t know. This is major problem that hinders her maturity and knowledge. I believe that it is true that children should always remain with their parents, but it is not beneficial if the parent is incapable of raising the child. Although Sam was her father, Lucy wouldn’t get very far in life with bad grades and a refusal to learn. As she would grow older, she would have great difficulty learning how to do many of the things average parents teach their adolescents. Sam would be unable to teach her how to drive a car, or do trigonometry homework, or read a simple novel. So in my opinion, contrary to what the Beatles say, Love is not all you need. You need hard work, growth, and a determination to succeed.
    According to the Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights, one of the points includes the inability for parents to provide the basic needs for their child. If a parent with mental disabilities is proven well enough to provide everything a normal parent would be able to provide, then they are allowed to keep the child.
    The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents the government from discriminating against people with mental disabilities. A person with these disabilities is defined as someone who “Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities”. It helps these people get jobs and gain rights that they couldn’t have before the Act was passed. It includes parental rights. It states that the court must take into account the parent’s disability and make a decision on special grounds. It’s a special case, so different evaluations must be made and taken into account. I believe that it is a good idea for the court to look into the family life of a mentally disabled parent. It is important to determine whether the child is safe or not; because, unfortunately, not all cases include a loving parent. In those types of cases, it’s better to break up the family, rather than having the child suffer a worse fate when they grow older.

  11. The movie, "I Am Sam" shows to explain the magnificent love between a father and his daughter. The love that Sam has for her is indescribable and also very saddening to watch. Sam is a mentally disabled single father with a child. Despite his disability he continues to care for her and show love for her for every moment of his life. He doesn't want to lose her. Conflict comes when the government wants to take the child away due to Sam being mentally disabled. The governments excuse is that it is better for the child and that they are protecting the child.

    The American With Disabilities Act of 1990 was introduced by the Congress in 1990. The ADA is a civil law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. According to the ADA, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, public accommodations, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. This act helps people who have mental disabilities to not be discriminated against. This act protects them and ensures them equality just like everyone else.

    I believe that Sam should have ultimately kept his daughter. Sam is the original father and Lucy, Sam's daughter, has already lost a mother. It wouldn't be healthy for her to not have both of her parents and basically become an orphan. Sam is not severely retarded to the point in which he cannot even take care of himself. Since he can live with basic needs and take care of another human's basic needs, Lucy should be able to live with her father. Although Sam has a mind of a seven year old, the love between them surpasses any of that. Instead of the girl being taken away I think that there should be a person that should help the family daily and that Lucy can get a education by tutors and take the necessary measurements of where she would have a normal life and grow up as a normal girl. Sam could still have custody of her and be her father but she can also have a lot of help from the outside.

  12. In the movie “I am Sam” Sam Dawson is a mentally handicapped adult. Sam has a daughter named Lucy and when she was born the mother left Sam to take care of the baby by himself. The state officials start to realize that Lucy is not learning the things she needs to because she does not want to be smarter than her father. The state then takes Lucy away from Sam. However Sam is determined to get Lucy back and in the end he accomplishes that goal. There are only certain times that I think the state government has the right to take away the child of a mentally handicapped person. These are in the case of abuse or the fact that the person cannot provide the child with the things that they need. Those are obvious reasons for a child to be removed from the home and people they live with. However the state government should not take a child away from their mentally handicapped parent because they believe it is best for the child. Even though the parent sometimes cannot equip their child with the knowledge that they need by teaching them new things, they give them more love than a non mentally handicapped person at times. Since they cannot give them the things any other child would have, they give that child everything they can.
    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a law that does not allow discrimination based on a disability. Disability is defined by this act as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a life activity.” When it comes to determining whether something or someone is a disability or not is case by case. The court does not say that a substance abuse and a visual impairment which can be corrected or made better but an irreversible impairment.

  13. I Am Sam is a movie about a man who has to take care of his newborn baby girl. He is mentally disabled and seems to have trouble sometimes with taking care of her. Growing up, Sam isn't able to know what Lucy needs and she starts to become embarrassed by how he "acts". But just like any first time parent, they don't know right away what the child needs or wants. It can become difficult and frustrating. But in Sam's situation, he should be having a worse time raising a child. But it doesn't seem like he really is. He feeds her, bathes her, puts her to sleep, cleans up after, and does everything else that is necessary to properly raise Lucy. People may say that that is all a child needs. But what about when that child ask, "Why is the sky blue and the grass green, why can't animals speak, or why can't we fly if we copy what birds do?" Based on a parent's mental stability, they should be able to answer, or take the easy route and Google it. But with a mind like Sam's, how can he answer these questions. It's like a little kid asking another little kid these same questions but neither of them know the answer, what do they do now? A child can't just simply rely on school to teach everything; the parent has wisdom to share, knowledge of the world to say, and advice to give. Whether it's to be patient with people or learn how to give a good right hook, the parent has to have gone through something and learn from it in order to pass it along to their offspring.

    The ADA (American with Disabilities Act)helps protect those who are mentally disabled to be just as equal as everyone else with their lifestyle. This act helps protect those who are disabled to be able to get a job, hold it, and get other rights. This act also includes parents right and how the court deals with situations like this. Based on the parents abilities and certain scenario, the court is able to do what they need to do with the information they have. Whether it be taking the child away, keep the child, or have supervision of the parent and the child.

    I do think that the court should investigate the families with these situations. Although in the movie, it's sad to see Lucy being taken away from her dad, but it turns out that this does happen often; kids are being ripped away from their parents whether they are good or bad.

  14. Although the movie I Am Sam was cute, I personally do not believe those with severe mental disorders should maintain custody of their children. In the case of Sam and Lucy, Lucy was pretty much dropped on Sam’s doorstep and Sam had no other option than to take care of her. That’s all well and good, but in real life situations what are the chances that a mentally handicapped person could care for a newborn and raise it? It’s not very likely. These people have a hard enough time caring for themselves and usually rely on others for care, so adding another vulnerable life to this is not a good idea. Because we live in a society that is more worried about being “politically correct” and treating everyone fairly than it is for the welfare of the people, handicapped people of any kind are able to maintain custody. In cases where there are two parents the one that is most fit will be chosen to be the sole provider, just like in any other custody battle. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that in most cases custody will not be taken away unless there are extenuating circumstances. Also, most states do not enforce sterilization. If the parents can show they are fit to raise a child, they are legally allowed to keep their children.

  15. Sam I Am is about a mentally handicapped man who gets a homeless woman pregnant, after the delivery of the baby the mother runs away from Sam and leaves the baby names Lucy with him at the bus stop. As Lucy gets older she starts school but school officials start to notice that Lucy seems to not be progressing at school but kind of at a standstill with her learning because she doesn't want to be smarter than her dad. Child services end up taking Lucy from Sam and setting her up in a foster home, but Sam is determined to win back Lucy. Thankfully with the help of a lawyer and the foster parents realizing how much Lucy loves her dad, he wins her back in the end.
    For the government to intervene I believe there needs to be a legit reason for them to do so such as abuse, not being able to provide, or child neglect. Which Sam provided for Lucy, he was never abusive, and he always took care of her. No child should be taken from their guardian if they are equipped with the abilities to take care of a child and do so like Sam did. In the American with Disabilities Act, being disabled is defined as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits life activity", the law does not discriminate people with disabilities.

  16. In the movie "I am Sam" a father (Sam) has his daughter taken away from him because of his mental handicap. Its hard to say whether the government was right or wrong to take Lucy away from Sam because there are a lot of different factors that are to be considered. The fact that Lucy wasn't learning as much as she should have been makes the argument sway toward the government's side but i think they could have handled the situation better. Since Sam was capable to take care of his daughter I think he should have been able to keep her. I think the government should have provided Lucy with a tutor or set her up in a program at school to help her advance in her learning.Only one-third of children with a parent who has a serious mental illness are being raised by that parent.The major reason states take away custody from parents with mental illness is the seriousness of the illness, and the absence of other able adults in the home. So with Sam being the only care taker of Lucy the odds were not really in his favor. Governments may intervene in family life in order to protect children from abuse or neglect, imminent danger or the chance of imminent danger. In Sam's case the issue was that Lucy was behind in her learning. When researching the Americans with Disabilities Act I saw that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. To have a child taken from the parent there must be proof that the parent is unable to raise that child in the way that is needed. I think overall this act is a good thing because it gives mentally handicapped people a chance to find work so they can have an income to support and raise their kid(s).

  17. In the movie “I Am Sam” the main character is a father with a mental disability who was raising his daughter all by himself, with the help of a neighbor lady and his friends who also have mental disabilities. He manages to raise her on his own with little help until she is seven years old and in the second grade. This is when her teachers and other adults around her begin to notice that something is not allowing Lucy, Sam’s daughter, learn the way she needs to. The government became involved and figures out that since Sam has the capacity of a seven year old it would not be good for Lucy to stay with him any longer because he is hindering her learning. Although he has mental disabilities and is unable to fully function like a normal adult he is fully capable of giving Lucy everything she needs to survive. Through the process of fighting for his parental rights as stated in the United States constitution Sam learns a lot and teaches other families as well as the court system that the main thing you need is love in order to become a well developed family and that there are other ways for a child to grow in their learning even if their parents are slow.
    In reality the government has rules and laws on the parental rights of all people in the United States. My opinion is that anyone who can be found capable in providing the necessities of a child should be allowed to parent. There is an Act that was passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against people who have disabilities as parents. According to the laws that have been placed in the world today it is the right of every parent whether disabled or not to parent their child. It is however up to the government to provide the correct assets to help keep a child safe and in their home with their parents. The government is also responsible for providing the child with any necessary devices in order to allow them to further their education or other parts of their life. I believe due to my research and my own opinion that as long as the child is not in physical harm or any kind of danger whether mental or physical that the child should be allowed to stay in the custody of their parents unless their parents disability made them unable to provide in any way. In the film Sam was a high functioning disable who was able to provide for his daughter and I believe that people like him should be allowed to parent their children.

  18. In the movie "I Am Sam", Sam Dawson is mentally disabled and has a child named Lucy. He loves and cares for her very much, but he the government does not think that Lucy is in the right environment because Sam has the capacity of a seven year old. He shows that he will do anything in order to keep and protect her. The government does not believe that Sam is a good fit for Lucy because they believe that Lucy is not learning much from Sam since she is just as smart as he is. Due to this, Lucy is forcibly taken from Sam by the government and put in a foster home.
    I do not believe that the government has the right to take a child away from their parent due to a mental disability, unless the child is in an unsafe environment, or the parent absolutely cannot provide for the child at all. I think that Sam was able to provide for Lucy and that she was safe in his hands.
    The termination of parental rights and persons suffering from mental disabilities says that only if these grounds are met, then a parent's rights may be terminated: Abandonment, Permanent Neglect, Severe and Repeated Abuse, and the Parents are unable, by reason of mental illness or mental disability to provide proper care for a child who has been in care of an agency for one year. The Americans with Disabilities Act is an Act that was passed in 1990, that made it a violation of federal law to discriminate against people with disabilities. I believe Sam was very much capable of being able to care for his daughter Lucy. He showed that he truly did want the best for her, and he would do anything in order to get her back. Sam showed over and over that he loved Lucy very much and would do anything for her that was in her best interest.

  19. In the movie "I Am Sam", Sam is the father of a 7 year old girl named Lucy. Sam loves her very much and wants to be her father but the people around them think that just because he's mentally handicapped he wont be able to support her and be the father that she needs. Lucy is 7 and she doesn't seem to progress in school because she doesn't want to be smarter than her dad. That's when everyone starts getting involved and questioning if Sam can be the father that Lucy will need. They end up going to court and have many trials and they end up taking Lucy away from Sam. At the end of the movie, they see how much Sam loves Lucy so he ends up getting Lucy back. The government is allowed to intervene in family matters but only to help and protect the kids. In Sam's situation, I believe that Sam is the father that Lucy needs. Even though he is mentally handicapped, he isn't as bad as other people. There are fathers worse than him that aren't mentally handicapped. I also think that they should put the child's opinion is perspective. If the child thinks that the dad can support her even though he is mentally handicapped then let the child choose what they want. I don't think it's right for the government to separate a kid from their parents just because they're mentally handicapped and force them to live with other parents. The ADA prohibits, under certain circumstances, the discrimination based on disability. It is basically the Civil Rights Act for people with disabilities.

  20. The film “I am Sam” was a sweet movie about a man who never let his mental capacity keep him from loving his daughter the way every child deserves to be loved. My heart broke for him when he thought he was going to lose her. Sam didn’t understand how his mental retardation would make him an insufficient parent concerning the areas of education and teenage development. As she grew and matured, Sam was still stuck in the mindset of a seven year old.

    I think the issue of whether or not it is in the governments sphere of influence isn’t a clear cut black and white issue. There is a lot of grey involved due to specific case to case details. If the parent has a support system around them that can fill in the gaps in order for the child to develop properly, then I don’t think it is fair for the government to take the child away. Occasional confusion and misunderstanding are a part of parenting anyway; they would just be a more frequent occurrence. However if the confusion gets to the point where the child is being neglected and the parent isn’t aware of it, then it becomes a major problem. If the child is taken away, the illness could get worse. In Sam’s case, it caused him to lose all confidence in himself and confine himself to his apartment.

    For a long time in America, people with mental disabilities were involuntarily sterilized. I think that is horrible. The right to have children isn’t something to take lightly and for it to be taken from them without their consent is disrespectful to basic human rights. Honestly, some mentally handicapped people are more fit to be mothers and fathers than some parents that are of adult mental capacity.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 and was put into effect to prevent public discrimination against the mentally or physically disabled population in America. It states that a person’s disabilities don’t make them any less of a person and they still have every right to participate in society. “The fundamental right to parent without interference is protected by the U.S. Constitution and balanced by the judicially recognized power of the state to interfere to protect the well-being of its children.” The courts favor keeping to families united. There must be sufficient evidence to prove the parent is incapable of being there for the child in needed ways. If there isn’t enough evidence for the parent or specific examples of child neglect, then it is probable that the family will be broken up for the best interest of the child.