Analysis of Historical, Legal, and Ethical Issues

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LASA 1—Analysis of Historical, Legal, and Ethical Issues

As someone knowledgeable about research on children with exceptionalities, you have been given the task of presenting a report to the court on your arguments for and against people with intellectual disabilities raising children.

Do the following:

  • Launch the online library (under Academic Resources).
  • Select Find Videos.
  • Select Filmakers Library Online.
  • In the search box, type “is love enough” and click Go.
  • The first result should be Is Love Enough? directed by Tom Puchniak. Review this video.

Analyze the historical, legal, and ethical issues in the video. Make sure you include the following in your analysis (in an order that flows well in your paper):

  • Compare the historical trends related to people with disabilities. How would outcomes be different fifty years ago for the people in the movie?
    • Compare the differences from about ten years ago when the movie was produced to today.
    • Explain how far we have come and what still needs to be addressed (such as terminology, acceptance, and support).
  • Explain how laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the IDEA influence these decisions.
  • Identify the ethical principles that might apply to the situation. Consider the professional ethics codes, including the following:
  • Synthesize your research and create two arguments: one for and one against parents with intellectual disabilities raising children. Consider the perspectives of the parents as well as the children. Use evidence and examples from research, utilizing your assigned readings, and at least two peer-reviewed articles on this topic to support your argument.
  • Given what you learned in the video, your assigned readings, and research you found, recommend supports or interventions for the following:
    • The family
    • Within the community for the family and child
    • The school
  • Although this video focused on those with intellectual disabilities, generalize the issues to other exceptionalities.
  • Conclude your paper with a review of current thinking for and against people with exceptionalities raising children, based on the sources used.

Write a 7–9-page paper (not counting the title page, abstract, or reference page) in Word format. Apply APA standards to citation of sources. Be sure to include a title page, abstract, and reference page also in APA format.



00:10fL Filmakers Library, Inc. New York , N.Y. PRESENTS Alan Handel Productions III Inc.

00:25We want a child like everybody else. We have abilities. We don’t look at her disability.

00:30Just because we’re disabled, it doesn’t mean we can’t at least try.

00:35DENNIS LINT I don’t think they should have children. I think the risk is too great.

00:45How would you feel if the kid’s retarded or… or normal? I said, “I don’tcare how the kid is, at least I will love it.”

00:55SUE But you have to think of the child. It’s just… It’s not fair.

MARY ANN But I don’t really regret anything that I’ve done, because everything that I have done has made me who I am and I think despite everything that I’ve turned out okay.

01:05I… I really want a child, badly …and I’d be a good mom.


01:20C. DAVID JOHNSON Who has the right to be a parent? It’s the mostelemental and the most demanding of human responsibilities. A task that many people feel is far too difficult to be managed by a retarded person. Yet, today an estimated 100,000 children are born every year to retarded parents in North America and we still know relatively little about this phenomenon. The intellectually-disabled say they can provide all the devotion a baby requires, but a growing child may need much more than love.

02:00Is Love Enough? Written & Directed by Tom Puchniak Produced by Alan Handel

02:15MIKE GODMAN Batshaw Family Services, Montreal You can look at a number of intellectually handicapped adults and you’ll see someone who visually looks like a… an adult, but you have to remember that this person may be functioning at an intellectual and an emotional stage that could be closer to eight, nine, ten, which begs the question, “Would you be comfortable with an eight, nine-year-old or 10-year-old caring full time for your child?

02:3500:02:40] MADONNA FRADSHAM Assn For Community Living Many people with intellectual disabilities are short-changed and people don’t expect enough of them and therefore, you know, people decide that they are not capable before they are even given a chance.

02:50DAVE HINGSBURGER Author/Consultant You have to realize in one generation people with disabilities have gone from being idiots and morons to neighbors and friends and that’s been quite a journey.


03:05C. DAVID JOHNSON For hundreds of years, western society regarded the mentally retarded as sad accidents of nature to be closeted behind walls of secrecy and silence. Thousands were forcibly sterilized in an attempt to erase the genetic stain of their misfortune. But scientists now know that barely 10% of mental retardation is passed on genetically. The most common causes are illness during pregnancy and traumatic injuries to the brain. The last sterilization wards were shut down in the1970’s , but many of the attitudes which spawned them remain. And the controversy over the ability of the retarded to be adequate parents is far from over.


04:05Atlantic Canada

04:10C. DAVID JOHNSON We cannot identify the woman whose story we are about to tell, because she was involved in legal action with child welfare. We’ll call her Susan . Susan has an intellectual disability. Fifteen years ago, she had a baby boy. Within months, child welfare officials decided she couldn’t handle the child and seized it for adoption. Two and a half years ago, she had another baby, a girl. Once again, child welfare took the child away.

04:40SUSAN PURCELL I ask one thing in life is to see my child growing up.You don’t know how hard it… hard it is not to see a child growing up, like having one child die just like Mary losing her child.


05:10C. DAVID JOHNSON It is a frequent occurrence: the child of a mentally disabled parent removed by a social welfare system that doubts the parents’ ability to raise and educate her. Most of the time, the parents do not contest the decision. But Susan decided to fight back. She felt she was getting a raw deal and so did the local association for community living, which works with intellectually disabled people.Madonna Fradsham is an Anglican minister and executive director of the association.

05:45MADONNA FRADSHAM I didn’t know whether she was going to be a good parent or not, nor did anyone else, but the period of time that they had granted her was not enough time for them to determine whethershe was going to be a good parent to that child.

06:00C. DAVID JOHNSON The association decided to use Susan and her baby as a test case for the rights of intellectually disabled parents to raise their children. The child’s father is also mentally disabled, butSusan had broken up with him and he is not part of the case.


06:20C. DAVID JOHNSON The Department of Child Welfare would not comment on camera, but it’s position in court was blunt.

06:25We cannot recommend that an adult of diminished capacity take on responsibilities they cannot shoulder, when such a decision would place a dependent infant at risk.

06:40C. DAVID JOHNSON The judge compromised. He decided to giveSusan a carefully controlled opportunity to demonstrate her fitness as a mother. The child was placed in a foster home. Susan was allowed weekly visits under constant surveillance by a child welfare worker. How she handled the baby would be crucial to her chances of getting her back, because the early months are critical in a baby’s life.

07:10MIKE GODMAN Given what we know now in terms of a child’s development, we’re much more careful in terms of having to make decisions, the right decision at the right point in time, because if that decision isn’t made, that child’s development forever is jeopardized so that you can’t give a parent five years to make the necessary changes, because that’s not in the best interest of that child.

07:35C. DAVID JOHNSON Child welfare workers compiled a growing list of concerns about Susan’s attempts to feed and care for her baby. They continued to feel the child was at risk. Although Susan had been atrusted babysitter over the years, social workers reported she was doing things like bathing her daughter in water that was dangerously hot.

08:00DOLORES CRANE Susan’s lawyer And consistently I saw that over and over in the notes(ph), and my point was always if… if she wasn’t that capable that she couldn’t tell hot water from cold water, don’t you think at this stage in her life that we would have found out that through these other children that she had taken care of, or through herself? I mean, if the woman didn’t know how hot the water was, you think she would have scalded herself.

08:25C. DAVID JOHNSON Susan admits that she was unprepared for her first baby 15 years ago, but since then, she has lived on her own, worked in a fast food restaurant, and returned to school to improve on her grade five education. She rejects the charges that she is incapable of caring responsibly for her daughter or herself.

08:45SUSAN PURCELL That’s not true. I can think on my own. I’ve been looking after myself for 18 years. I’m bit of a slow learner… but I can catch on.

09:05C. DAVID JOHNSON The deck was stacked against Susan from the start. She grew up one of eight children in a shattered, violent household. All eight were removed to foster homes, which were not much safer. Child welfare officials used Susan’s dismal upbringing to argue against her fitness as a parent. She was separated from her sisters at an early age. They all live in another city.

09:35My parents were alcoholics. There was abuse, never had a… stable family home at all. None.

09:45I will tell she remains sitting in the chair, belt tie… or tied to the chair,belted around for no reason at all.

09:50And if she peed in the chair, she’d get for it to get even twice as now.

10:00SUSAN PURCELL Every night, when I’d go to bed, my foster father molested me.

10:05Did you ever say anything to anybody?

10:10SUSAN PURCELL I told the social worker and they didn’t believe me.They didn’t do nothing.


10:25C. DAVID JOHNSON After an 18-month battle, Susan won a partial victory, the right to take her daughter home, but only under the close supervision of child welfare workers.

10:35SUSAN PURCELL Put this color on, put this color. Too high.


10:45Put the other one.

SUSAN PURCELL Yeah, the other one.

10:50C. DAVID JOHNSON The social workers continued to have concerns. They said she had trouble measuring out the right amount of medicine. She took too long to dress and feed her daughter, and showed a high level of anxiety, which affected her ability to solve problems. Her lawyerfelt Susan was being held to a different standard than any other parent.

11:15DOLORES CRANE My client was under a microscope, and every time the director’s workers who would asked her questions, she was always petrified of saying the wrong answer and the more that she didn’t get the right answer the more nervous she became in terms of doing the chores and so on.

11:35C. DAVID JOHNSON Susan’s sisters offered to share the child raising duties, an arrangement that has helped ease the burden on mentally disabled parents in the past. When child welfare declined their offer, the sisters were dismayed by the decision.

11:50They set her up to take a fall. It’s almost like that.

I think they actually went after her and they made her feel stupid.

11:55They put her in situations to make sure she fails them.

12:00Yes, she is not stupid.

They gave her a test, a math test…


…which she passed the 100%, but they had to test her math skills, like she… that… that… I… I had never heard of someone being tested for math to become a parent, because I don’t know if I do too good.

12:15And that’s why she is taking courses now to better herself…

Yeah, she has been taken…

12:20She has been, yeah. So what does that tell them? They should tell them like, “hey she is trying.”

12:25Oh, she jumped too far.

You know.

12:30C. DAVID JOHNSON Susan does have help raising her child.



SUSAN PURCELL How are you?


C. DAVID JOHNSON Madonna Fradsham was touched by Susan’sdetermination, and impressed by her ability to learn and grow. She began as Susan’s official advocate, but has become her daily confidant and closest friend.

12:45MADONNA FRADSHAM She learns from watching other people. A prime example is first when… ah… when her daughter came home, she really wasn’t sure how to cuddle her and how to hold her and all those kinds of things, but her experience hadn’t been a loving family where people loved you and kissed you, and said I love you and you are beautiful, and you are special to me, and all those kinds of things. So others showed her how to do that. And today there is just this wonderfulbond between mother and child.

13:25(inaudible ).

13:30SUSAN PURCELL Make ‘em smell nice and good. Love you. I love you.

13:40C. DAVID JOHNSON Susan’s daughter is now a healthy and normaltwo and a half year old. But one of the greatest concerns with intellectually disabled parents is whether their limited reading and verbal skills will hinder the child’s education in years to come.

13:55SUSAN PURCELL I think that was the end of the story. Now, teddy is sleeping. (inaudible) about to sleep.

14:05MADONNA FRADSHAM You know what’s really interesting about this mother is that in the beginning over and over again, she would say, “If Iknow I can’t do it, I will let her be adopted. If when I try, I can’t do it, I would let her go, because I love her.”

14:30SUSAN PURCELL Can you do it? Can you do it?

MADONNA FRADSHAM She certainly would not be willing to do ittoday, because she has proven over and over again that she can parent this child.


14:50C. DAVID JOHNSON The test case continues. The Department of Child Welfare is going back to court. It wants to continue to monitor the mother and child. Susan just wants them out of her life.

15:05SUSAN PURCELL I didn’t have a chance in life, but how… but now I do, because she is my last child I’m ever going to have. She is my pride and joy, she is my life. It’s not fair what you people are doing to me. I love her and I… and I know I could be a mother to her, if you give me a chance.

15:35C. DAVID JOHNSON In some ways, infancy is the easiest time for a parent. The child’s needs are simple. But what happens as the child grows older and begins to outgrow the parent, that can be a difficult experience.


16:05C. DAVID JOHNSON Can the child of retarded parents possibly turn out normal? Mary Ann lives in Victoria , British Colombia . She is 20 years old, and is going to college and pursuing a career in music. To get to where she is today, she had to overcome a major handicap. Both of her parents are intellectually disabled.

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