Transracial Adoption in This is Us

Transracial adoption is when a child is adopted to parents of a different race. Randall was a black child who was trans-racially adopted to two white parents. For trans-racially adopted children, they often struggle with finding people to identify with, especially if they grow up in a predominantly white area. Black children growing up in white families also often fall victim to being considered ” honorary white” by the people around them. The thought process behind this is that if the racial difference isn’t acknowledged, it does not exist, and there is no reason for them to feel different. Using this method when raising children ends up hurting them in the long run, because the desire they hold to know who and where they came from is not going to be erased by ignoring. Children that are trans racially adopted also need to have someone to look up to that they can identify with, whether it be a family friend, a teacher, or a neighbor. This argument arose in the late 1970’s, after transracial adoption started growing in popularity. The main issue is whether or not white parents are able to provide cultural context and socialization in a society that is so conscious of race. Being adopted is a challenge in itself, but being the only black person that has been adopted into an all-white family hold more challenges than most children can face. The effects of being trans-racially adopted have lasting outcomes on the child lasting into adulthood.

Randall was originally named Kyle, to match the beginning letter of his name to that of his siblings’. Rebecca and Jack realized though, that he is different and the name Kyle did not fit the bill for him. Instead, he was named Randall, which paid homage to Randall’s biological father, William, whom Rebecca secretly kept in contact with. This was the right choice on Jack and Rebecca’s part, because they recognized that they should embrace his difference and celebrate it. As Randall grew older, he started to struggle with finding someone whom he identified with. He was raised in a predominately white area, and did not have any black people to spend time with and grow up with. When Randall was around 11, the family took a trip to the public pool on an especially hot summer day. He asked to go to the pool across town instead of the one nearby, and not thinking anything of it the family decided to go to the one across town. During their day at the pool, they all lost sight of Randall for a while, and found him spending his time with a group of black families that regularly spend time at that pool. He owned up to his parents and told them that the only reason he was asking to go to that specific pool that day was because he knew there were black families who spent a lot of their weekends there, and he wanted to spend time with them (Fogelman “The Pool”).

Again, Rebecca and Jack made the right decision and realized that Randall needed to be around people that he could completely identify with, and they scheduled regular playdates at the home of one of the families from the pool. This is the first time Randall was able to spend time with an all-black family and feel like he completely fit in, for there was no obvious thing that made him stand out from everyone else. In addition to helping Randall have friends, the parents of his friends were kind enough to offer advice to Jack and Rebecca in regards to things such as finding a proper barber for his hair, and if it was the right thing to do to let him go to a private school. Kids at his first school picked on Randall by calling him ‘Webster’ (Fogelman “The Big Three”) . They all knew that he was a black child adopted into a white family, and a television show that aired at the time he was being raised was about a black kid named Webster, who was also adopted into a white family. As Randall grew up, he continued to face hardships having to deal with his difference in appearance. At family holidays, his grandmother would take a picture of all three children together, and then say “okay, now just the twins” ( Fogelman “Pilgrim Rick”). This enforced into Randall’s head that even though he was a member of the family, he has a biological family somewhere else that he doesn’t know about, and that he is always going to look out of place with his family. Simple things, like being asked if he belongs to his mom in the supermarket since he looks nothing like her, are things that can leave a lasting impression on a child. Children who are trans-racially adopted often struggle their whole lives trying to find people whom they can identify with, and whom they can relate to and look up to.

As an adult, you can see in his life how his adoption and childhood experiences have affected his choices. People who grew up in a transracial family are more likely to marry someone of their own race instead of a differing race, as shown with Beth, Randall’s wife. This is because as a child he did not have an environment of an all-black family readily available to him, so he married a black woman and had black children to create an environment of all black individuals that he felt completely comfortable in. In present day, the show starts with Randall hiring a PI and finding his biological father (Fogelman, “Pilot”). Randall goes to the home of his biological father, William, with a pre-rehearsed rant that he spews out to him, saying to William that he never needed him around, because his life was just fine without him, for it includes a loving family, a wife and kids, and he lives a comfortable life.  William does not respond to the spiel, but he does invite Randall inside for a cup of tea, and Randall, without hesitation, agrees. In return, Randall invites William home to meet his granddaughters, Tess and Annie.

William ended up staying at Randall’s home and living with the family.  William and Randall developed a relationship in the short time that they were given together. Randall didn’t realize that he wanted that relationship with his father until he was face to face with him. Once he saw him, though, he was compelled to know more about him and to share his life with him. His desire to know William and share his life with William is him resorting back to his childhood desire of wanting to know who he came from and everything about who he is biologically linked to.

Randall faced many challenges as an adopted child. He faced even more challenges as a child who was transracially adopted. He not only questioned where he came from and why he was given up, he also faces the fact that there is no one in his life that he can fully identify with. He faced being bullied by family and classmates, he faced personal struggle and he still managed to come out with a beautiful life and beautiful family. The adoption still affects his life in many ways, but overall he managed to overcome the difficulties that life threw at him.