The movie I am Sam, directed by Jessie Nelson, shows how a man with developmental disabilities fights the legal system to keep custody of his daughter. Sam Dawson is shown to be the sole guardian of his daughter, Lucy, after her mother abandoned them outside the hospital. Sam, with the help of his friends and Annie, his neighbor, is able to provide Lucy with a loving and caring environment through the first few years of her life. When Lucy starts going to school at the age of six, she surpasses the mental ability of her father, and she feels embarrassed to have a "retard" as her father. A social worker turns up at Lucy's birthday party and takes her away from her father, allowing him only two supervised visits per week.
After getting advice from his friends, Sam tries to hire a lawyer, Rita Harrison, who has a reputation of never losing. She turns him down, as he could not afford her, but at a social event she decides to help him pro bono in order to look good in front of her colleagues. Although she offered to help him she lived on a fast-paced schedule and had a hard personal life which made it seem like she didn't really care about actually helping him; after working with him for a while she becomes more sensitive towards others feelings, tries to mend the broken relationship she has with her own son and leaves her cheating husband.
Although Rita was not able to get Sam custody of Lucy the first time, Sam was put on a trial period where he was supposed to have a higher income, better living conditions, and prove that he was capable of caring for his daughter. During the trial period, Lucy is sent to a foster home, that she tries to escape a couple of times to meet her dad. Even though the foster parents initially wanted to adopt Lucy, they noticed that Sam could provide her with unconditional love and that she would be better off with him. At the end of the movie, Sam is referring a soccer game where Lucy makes a goal, in the audience is Rita and the foster parents.
I found this movie to be very touching, as you can see how much Sam really struggled to get his daughter back. At the beginning he worked at Starbucks, and it took him years for him to be promoted to make coffee which shows how hard it is for him to learn things. However when he knew that he had to step up his game in order to get his daughter back, he got a new job at Pizza Hut and started walking dogs. Throughout the whole movie you see how his life was a routine through examples such as IHOP Wednesdays and Movie night Thursdays. For him to break his routines must have been hard but it was such a great sacrifice that truly shows that he cared about Lucy. This movie just made me appreciate people with developmental disabilities much more. It made me think of my cousin who also has mental disabilities, and I kind of put myself in her shoes, and understood how hard it is for her to do some things, and that we need to have more trust in her. We are not "perfect" like Sam calls Rita in the movie for being born with a disability, we tend to overlook that so much, and the fact that they are such great people even with their developmental delay makes them much more special.