I Am Sam

I just read about this movie and have added it to our Netflix list – so I can’t personally review it yet. Netflix tells me that “After fathering a child with a homeless woman, Sam (Sean Penn) — a grown man with the mental capacity of a 7-year-old — raises the baby himself until an incident at a birthday party finds the Child Protective Services deeming him an unfit guardian. With the help of yuppie lawyer Michelle Pfeiffer, Sam attempts to regain custody of his daughter and prove that, despite his handicap, he’s a truly loving father.” Certainly, the homeless issue means something to me. And thanks to a growing awareness about the dangers of the Child Protective Services via my all things adoption group, it certainly seems like a movie I should see.

The film’s title is derived from the opening lines “I am Sam / Sam I am” of the book Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, which is read in the movie. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times reviewed it positively as a “most inviting and accessible film that turns upon a mental condition that most people would prefer not to think about.” Maybe that is why overall it was not well liked.

The first comment in my all things adoption group was – “oh my god the foster mom is a piece of shit, typical foster parent that just wants to steal the child, it’s so disgusting and sadly it’s so freaking real.” And this – “with the proper support he will 100% be the best father for her.”

Part of it was that they didn’t take the time to understand neurodivergence. How someone interacts with the world through different fandoms. I got everything Sam was trying to say right away because I’m neurodivergent and I love the Beatles. The abled neurotypicals in I Am Sam didn’t even want to try. They just tried to force their model of the world, which in this case, means deeming the disabled parent inferior by default.

Welcome to ableism 101. Even biological parents will do this with their own kids. Hiding illness, limiting contact, and/or stifling relationships. Ableism states that the disabled parent is always inferior, and a burden to their children. A hindrance to “normalcy.”

Someone else wrote this –

I have seen it. It is actually on our state’s list for alternative training for foster parents, which okay but with alternative training you simply fill out a form writing down what you learned and no one like processes or follows up wjth you to point out that people with disabilities have a right to parent and are often preyed upon by Child Protective Services (CPS).

I am usually shocked to learn that most caseworkers in my state are so unfamiliar with any rights for parents with disabilities including the right to an adult advocate. They absolutely can parent successfully, sometimes needing education or support to meet our cultural or white definition of parenting standards. That movie is controversial for many reasons including that a non-disabled actor was chosen to play someone with a disability. And absolutely, the foster parent says what the societal thoughts are that are being held against Sean Penn’s character – that only abled bodied people in mind and body or mental health are deemed capable to parent – so not true. Even convincing the child they “deserve better” than a loving, devoted father simply because he has a disability.

Another person adds the reality check – it’s actually super unrealistic cuz in real life disabled parents never get good legal representation and almost never get their kids back.

And yet another notes – it happens in real life too. CPS targets parents with disabilities and it’s hard for them to get their kids back.

John Lennon’s Mum

I didn’t know this sad story but someone in my all things adoption group mentioned it. “Ok adoptees, tell me John Lennon didn’t capture mother abandonment in his song: How?”

So I went looking for the story. I found an article in a Liverpool newspaper titled “The true tale of John Lennon’s mum revealed in Walton author’s book.”

His mum’s early death in 1958 is understood to have scarred him for life and inspired his music. On his 1970 song, Mother, he sang “You had me but I never had you”. Kevin Roach says that the idea of Julia as an irresponsible “good-time girl” who couldn’t look after her son came from Aunt Mimi, who raised John in her house in Menlove Avenue.

In Julia, Kevin goes into detail on the rows between Julia, her father George and her sister Mimi, as well as her relationships with men. Julia Stanley’s family never approved of her relationship with Alf Lennon, and they eventually married in secret. But merchant seaman Alf deserted her after baby John was born. As World War II continued, she had a brief affair that left her pregnant – but she was forced by her father to give up that baby for adoption.

She later met another man, John “Bobby” Dykins, but her sister Mimi disapproved. Eventually, after Mimi reported Julia to social services, Mimi won custody of John. Julia had two children with Bobby and later became close to John again, sharing her passion for music. But in 1958, she died after being hit by a car in Menlove Avenue.

Later in life John remarked that he had lost his mother twice – once at five, when he was sent to live with his aunt, and once at 17 when she died.

The book Julia by Roach appears to be out of print with a few, very expensive used copies available at Amazon. But I learned there is also a movie titled Nowhere Boy which thankfully is available at Netflix (and so I have added it to my list).

Nowhere Boy is a 2009 British biographical drama about John Lennon’s adolescence, his relationships with his aunt Mimi Smith and his mother Julia Lennon, the creation of his first band, the Quarrymen, and its evolution into the Beatles. The movie is based on a biography written by Lennon’s half-sister, Julia Baird.