Is Love Enough: a Study of How Disabled People Struggle as Depicted in This Movie

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1505 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

Words: 1505|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Mar 14, 2019

" one generation people have gone from being idiots and morons to neighbours and friends and that's been quite a journey." Author and disability rights activist, Dave Hingsburger

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Intellectually disabled parents have the human desire and legal right to become parents, but doesn't a child have the right to a secure and stimulating environment? The film Is Love Enough presents several stories that provide excellent positions for discussion. Discussions that involve human rights issues, intellectually disabled parenting issues, and children's rights issues. The question as to whether love is all that is needed is raised when intellectually disabled parents want to raise their children on their own. This film addresses these issues by providing perspectives from prospective intellectually disabled parents, family members, and social service advocates. The film presents real life views of a challenging issue. The film Is Love Enough features personal stories about individuals that are struggling with their disabilities and their rights. Susan for example, is an intellectually disabled adult whose baby was removed from her care. A social worker, a lawyer, and family members all help Susan fight for her baby. A college student with intellectually disabled parents named MaryAnn, credits her aunt for providing the necessary care and guidance during her teenage years. MaryAnn expresses her opinions and views throughout the film. The real life issues inevitably create awareness for the viewers as to what life would be like, or is like, living with or as an intellectually disabled person. Two intellectually disabled adults named Vincent and Fran are parents who agreed to give up their baby for adoption and then changed their minds. Richard and Karen are from Ontario. They are intellectually disabled and married since 1995. They are passionate in their desire to adopt a baby. As Richard says in the film, "Just because we look different and talk different, we have love for each other and love to give a child. Everyone has a void; this is our void...give us a chance"(video). This type of adoption would be the first of its kind in Canada. Parenting is one of the most demanding responsibilities for human kind, proving to be a challenge for anyone. Kaatz (1992) states, " What if a parent is mentally disabled and has trouble with basic skills like reading and writing and grasping concepts and ideas" (211). Should he or she be trusted with raising a child? Do basic life skills substantiate the right to be a parent? Historically, it was believed that by forcibly sterilizing the mentally challenged, the elimination of the disability would prevail. Hunsburger (1997) states, " In 1928, the Alberta Government, supported by some of society's most prominent members, passed a Sterilization Act. By the time the Act was repealed in 1972, the lives of nearly 3,000 individuals were irreparably changed" (p.42). It is now recognized that barely ten percent of mental disabilities are passed on genetically. Today, the intellectually disabled have the legal right and human desire to be parents. An estimated 100,000 children are born every year to intellectually challenged parents in North America. These "special" parents say they can provide all the devotion that a baby requires. But others feels that a growing child may need much more than love. Focusing on different families, the film raises the fundamental question: how to balance the basic human desire and right to parent children with the rights and best interests of the child.

An intellectually disabled mother in Atlantic Canada has her child taken away at birth. A year and a half later, "Susan" goes to court to prove she can be a good mother. She is allowed to visit her child and try her parenting skills, but she is under intense scrutiny. Every move is monitored, every mistake counts against her. She feels she is being judged differently from other parents. Of her child she says "...she is my pride and joy, she is my life" (film).

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In Victoria British Columbia, MaryAnne, the daughter of the two intellectually challenged parents, is headed for her first year at college. To all appearances MaryAnne is a normal, well-adjusted young woman. But growing up she has had to overcome enormous difficulties. MaryAnne talks honestly about her upbringing and acknowledges that if it weren't for the support of other family members, she "would have been a mess" (film). It's not just about the rights of the parents, it's also "...what's in the best interest of the child" (film). The words spoken by MaryAnne and her personal life experiences contribute immensely to the issue of intellectually disabled parenting. MaryAnne claims, "The issue is not people with developmental disabilities having children; it's whether or not they can actually do what they need to do to be good parents to them. And so if there were social workers that could be there 24 hours, then I would say 'go for it', but the reality just is that there isn't"( film). Richard and Karen want to push the boundaries further. Richard and Karen want to be the first intellectually disabled couple in Canada to adopt a child. "There's something we have to offer, it's love for each other and for that child" (film). Turner (1998) claims that prior to the actual adoption, relevant facts must be considered which include, " the child's physical and emotional needs and level of development; the child's safety; and the importance of continuity in the child's care" (p.119). An organization out of Pittsburgh, called ESPRIT: Educational Systems for Parents who have Retardation with Infants and Toddlers, helps intellectually disabled parents to ensure their children reach their full potential. A description of the program was provided to the students of the legal skills class. The program has proven to be highly beneficial for those involved. For the most part, children born to these parents have normal intelligence. Unfortunately, without the right kind of stimulation, these children can develop learning disabilities. Conine (1998) states, "This unique organization helps these children cope with the emotional difficulties that arise from the stigma of being raised by intellectually disabled parents" (p.38). The programs involve, for the most part, group therapy. This type of group therapy allows the children to associate and explain their individual experiences of being a child of intellectually disabled parents. The group sessions involve the children by offering speak out sessions, and sessions that provide the child with explanations as to why they are in an especially unique situation. Having the children in an environment that does nothing but create similarities and equality, will subsequently create ease and acceptance within the children and their home environment. MaryAnne, the child of the intellectually disabled parents in Victoria, concedes how ongoing help and support for intellectually disabled parents is hard to come by. Few programs exist to help them learn to take care of their children. A recent report by the New York State Commission of Quality of Care (1999) outlined some of the problems facing these families. The study profiled 41 families in detail. In general, it was found, "intellectually challenged parents had low self esteem; they resisted help from the outside for fear of losing their children and almost half of the parents in the study had faced at least one allegation of child abuse or neglect. Twenty-five percent of the children failed to receive adequate medical, dental care and nutrition. And nearly two thirds of the children over the age of three had an identified learning disability, believed to be as a result of not getting enough stimulation in their early formative years" (online). A Canadian program, similar to ESPRIT though less comprehensive, is offered at the Surrey Place Centre, through the University of Toronto's Department of Psychiatry. Two other organizations in Canada working with intellectually disabled couples and parents are the Association for Community Living and People First. The association for community living states that the Coalition's goal is to empower individuals and families to make decisions about how they lead their lives in the community. The human rights act has guidelines that allow for issues to be defended if not corrected. The act pertaining to the issues of discrimination against disability can be found in section 1 which states, " prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted"(film).Turner (1998) states, "People with disabilities are entitles to enjoy the same rights, freedoms, protections, and opportunities as all other members of Canadian society" (p.233). The need to address issues encompassing the topic of intellectually disabled people and parenting will prevail to be a highly argumentative discussion. I believe that there is a need to ensure that parents with disabilities have the same opportunities as parents without disabilities to raise their children within their homes, families, and communities. As social workers within our communities, we will need to be dedicated to the empowerment of families and strive to promote sensitivity, awareness, and inclusion of all persons with disabilities.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Is Love Enough: A Study Of How Disabled People Struggle As Depicted In This Movie. (2019, March 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from
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