Randall Pearson from ‘This Is Us’ Was Adopted

Here's why Randall Pearson is my favorite fictional adopted character.

Derek Williams August 14, 2018
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This Is Us has been, hands down, my favorite TV show for the last two years! It traces the story of the very unique Pearson family. Through the creative use of flashbacks and “flash-forwards,” it follows this family over a number of decades and shows how one person is interconnected with another. My favorite character is Randall Pearson, (Sterling K. Brown) the adopted son of Jack Pearson. Here is why Randall Pearson is my favorite fictional adopted character.

1. Randall and transracial adoption

This Is Us does a great job of showing us Randall’s origin story and the circumstances surrounding his adoption. He was an African American baby adopted by Caucasian parents. The TV series shows different scenarios where the issue of race rears its ugly head. One episode, when Randall was a preteen, shows Randall at a pool party, and his adopted mom, Rebecca (Mandy Moore) is given hair care advice by another mom who is African American. At first Rebecca is offended, then after thinking about it, is grateful for the advice. In a humorous, present-day scene, Randall has a public altercation with his brother, Kevin, who is white. They are literally wrestling with one another in the street when we hear a siren, indicating the police are on their way. Randall says to his brother, “We better go…I’m still black,” implying that if the cops arrived in the middle of their sibling spat, Randall would be the one getting arrested, not his white brother. Another arc shows us Randall as a teen experiencing his first interracial date. And another shows us Randall interacting with other African Americans in his freshman year in college.

This Is Us is great at showing us the realities of transracial adoption—the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s is right on the money of both the joys and the challenges, how the parents respond, and how Randall’s white siblings feel. From the parents’ point of view, they think they are great parents; and they are! But, just like in real life, nothing can prepare us for real-life experiences when adopting cross-culturally. Randall does a great job being the only black person in many life experiences, not only because of his character and integrity, but also because he had parents who were loving, flexible, and teachable.

2. Randall and adoption reunification

The very first season show us the passion with which Randall pursues reunification with his birth father, William. It shows how Randall was angry at first but then shows how Randall was able to forgive and build a relationship with a person who he really never knew. Other episodes show us secrets that his adopted mom, Rebecca, kept about his birth father and how he reacted when those secrets were revealed. Adoption reunification may be successful as an adult adoptee, or not. This Is Us does a great job of showing us what the experience could be like.

3. Randall and foster parenting

As with everything Randall puts his mind to, he pursues foster care with a passion! He is eager for his foster child to fit in, eager to be successful, and eager to protect his foster child when he thinks she needs to be protected from her birth mother. This Is Us accurately and poignantly portrays the delicate relationship between foster dad and foster child. The show brings to life topics that foster parents and birth parents can identify with such as reunification, homelessness, the court system, single parenting, and attachment disorders.

I love This Is Us because it doesn’t give easy answers for foster care or adoption but shows real-life situations that these families go through. I love Randall because instead of running from his past, he runs toward it, embracing his origin story—embracing his birth family as well as his adoptive family, and he uses his past to enhance not only his future, but also the future of others.

Are you ready to pursue a domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with a compassionate, experienced adoption professional who can help get you started on the journey of a lifetime.

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Derek Williams

Derek Williams is an adoption social worker and has been in the field of child welfare and behavioral health since 2006, where he has assisted families in their adoption journeys. He and his wife started their own adoption journey in 1993 and have 8 children, 6 of whom are adopted. His adopted children are all different ethnicities, including East Indian, Jamaican, and Native American. He loves traveling with his family and is an avid NY Mets fan! Foster care and adoption is a passion and calling for Derek and he is pleased to share his experiences with others who are like-minded.


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