Oh. My. Gosh! January 10 cannot come soon enough when This Is Us picks up again. “Last Christmas” was the perfect episode to end the season. Since the show began, I’ve been writing about each episode and how they masterfully portray not only adoption, but interracial adoption. It’s no secret I’m more than obsessed with this show and I clearly love the adoption storyline. (I am writing this on Adoption.com after all.) Though there are so many other layers that I’d love to dive into and unfold – I’m super interested in Kate’s story and where her journey will lead, including having her discover her own feelings about life – I have focused primarily on adoption. It’s the storyline that is most relatable to me. I’m living that right now and so I’m entranced by what happens next for Randall, his mom, his birth father…I need to know how it all unfolds!

This week, however, I found myself a bit relieved that there was so little attention on the adoption story. I guess I didn’t realize how intense it had been, watching week after week, wondering how my own life could play out 25 years from now. I enjoyed finally seeing this family just as a family. This time…no labels.

This week. Oooohhh this week. It was all about love and family. I do believe that love is at the epicenter of all adoption stories. But the past few weeks, in a way, we’ve seen how Randall’s adoption has created a wedge in his relationships with his siblings, and even his parents. These scenes we have watched on the television are reflections of real feelings and real experiences, so they are important to have watched. We haven’t just been entertained, but we have been shown a new perspective and reality that many of us have never been exposed to before. The past few weeks, Randall’s adoption was the story, while this week adoption was the back story.

This week, Randall’s love for his family filled the frame.

This week, we saw his solid character as he helped a friend by offering true hope.

This week Kate’s weight was the back story and Toby and her love were the focus.

This week Kevin’s acting was the back story and his faith in friendship and family was his story.

This week Rebecca’s insecurity was the back story; her love of motherhood and caring for her family…that was her story.

This week William’s cancer and being a birth father was the back story; his love for his son and family took center stage.

The story this week was family. All these people coming together – celebrating Hanukah, sitting by the hospital bed of the man who brought the Pearson family together, showing up late to celebrate Christmas Eve – it doesn’t matter who is related by blood or not. All are welcome. All are family. The truth is, many of us have family who we aren’t biologically related to. It’s the way life works. We connect with people, we love them, we let them in and they become our own. Whether we call them family or not is up to us…but our hearts know it. We know who we’d sacrifice for. We know who would sacrifice for us. We know who would sit by our side and who would be our ever present cheerleader.

I began watching This Is Us believing I would follow a family through life’s ups and downs. I have enjoyed where the show has taken me and the twists and turns have me hooked. And this week’s episode, it brought me back to the beginning. Family. No matter what happens…family. No matter what it looks like or who’s a part of it. Family. It’s the center of our lives.

This Is Us hopefully has reminded us of that; this is us. This is how we live. This is how we function. This is how we love, how we forgive, and how we love even deeper. This is the support we desire and the love we crave. It’s found in family. So if you have a crazy dysfunctional family, you’re not alone. If you are angry and don’t want to talk to the people in your family, you’re not alone. And often, some of the most peaceful, contented love you’ll ever feel will be within your family. Because this is us. This is humankind. This is what we have, what we need, what we create. Family.

Did you catch last week’s This is Us episode? Catch up here.