Psychology of Adoption and Family Interactions in Movies Losing Isaiah

Lewin and her husband become his temporary foster parents and ultimately adopt him. At this point, Richards resurfaces. She has completed rehabilitation, learned her son is alive and wants him back. An extended legal fight follows, with viewers invited to pull for Lewin but also made aware that Richards might very well prevail.
While technically the issue is whether Richards has received notice before her parental rights were terminated and before the adoption was finalized, Isaiah’s race and his adoption by whites come to the forefront of the legal battle repeatedly. Lewin and her husband turn to an African American lawyer thinking it might help their case. Kadar Lewis, Richards’ lawyer played by Samuel L. Jackson, tells Richards,
Jackson also gets Lewin to admit under oath that she never reads books to him that include African American characters. In the end, a Cook County judge invalidates the adoption and returns Isaiah to Richards, saying it is usually best for a child to be with his or her natural mother, especially if a racial issue is involved. Through it all, the battle is fought less by a biological mother against adoptive parents, and more by an African American mother against a white mother.
When the judge rules in favor of Richards and returns Isaiah to her, white and perhaps also African American viewers of the film are invited to shake their heads in disbelief. Richards herself seems unlikely to be a good mother. She has already admitted on the stand under oath that her son was conceived in a reckless sex-for-drugs escapade and that she has no one who will help her raise Isaiah. More generally, Losing Isaiah suggests African American mothers are unlikely to succeed.