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TitleJonathan, The Boy Nobody Wanted (1992) (TV Film)
Alternative/Original Title
DisabilityGeneral Down's Syndrome
DirectorGeorge Kaczender
CastMason Adams Dana Barron Chris Burke Dana Chelette Linden Chiles Robert Cicchini Jeffrey de Munn Kim Delgado Chris Demetral H. Richard Greene
NotesA boy with Down's Syndrome is adopted after his parents turn down an operation (hole in the heart) which would prolong his life. A voice-over from the adult Jonathan tells us his story and his part is played by three different actors. Rejected by his parents he is put into a home for children with disabilities. For a long time he is left alone and ignored until the 'good' helper comes along. She takes him home and gives him so much attention her own children naturally become jealous. When she discovers Jonathan's heart disease is correctable she wants him to have the operation. But then she discovers that for Jonathan to have an operation, an anesthetic, or even go to the dentist's his parents' permission is needed. When she approaches them the father says he will seek spiritual counsel and needs time to think. The father is portrayed as extremely bigoted which means any debate is suppressed and we're unequivocally on the side of Jonathan. Difficult to see how it could be otherwise but presumably there are two sides to this argument. The father's reason is that if Jonathan lives his other children will be responsible for him. The script unfortunately doesn't challenge this on the grounds that since the mother and father are hardly responsible (except legally) for Jonathan then it wouldn't likely become an onerous burden on their children. The good helper takes the issue to court to have Jonathan made a temporary ward of court. But the judge rules against this. His reason for this is as strange as the father's since he says that the parents have upheld their responsibility as parents. In fact the parents see Jonathan only 3 times a year. And at this hearing the father actually says he would be happy to see Jonathan die. At this point a television program is made about Jonathan and is seen by a lawyer who agrees to act on his behalf to sue for guardianship. Now we see the case so loaded against the parents that there is little room for debate and the outcome is foreseen. Jonathan gets his operation. But what we really need is a respectable examination of such an interesting and important story.

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