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‘This Is Us’ Stirs Debate About Transracial Adoption

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Rebecca Pearson, played by Mandy Moore, wrote a letter to the family court judge advocating for her family adopting their Black baby, Randall. (NBC)

NBC’s hit drama “This Is Us” is leading a debate about whether a Black child can be raised by a white family. Tuesday night’s episode saw parents Rebecca and Jack Pearson wanting to formally adopt Randall, their Black baby. However, doing so was no easy task, and Twitter users eagerly weighed in on what unfolded.

While a social worker assured the Pearsons that adoption would be a cinch, that proved not to be the case. Judge Bradley doesn’t think Randall, who a year earlier was abandoned at a fire station before the Pearsons took him in, should be raised by white parents.

“That child belongs with a Black family,” Judge Bradley told the Pearsons in his chambers. “How else will he see himself, understand who he is?”

Rebecca assures the judge that they’ll teach him, but the judge questions that.

“I was nine years old before I understood that I was Black,” he said. “Now I understood my skin color … but I never really understood what my blackness meant until a white man called me a n—-. And my father sat me down and he explained to me what that word meant. He didn’t sympathize or feel sorry for me because he understood all the pain that that word elicits. My father had been called that word more times in his life than he can count.”

While Rebecca later wrote an impassioned letter to the judge assuring him the Pearsons are Randall’s parents “whether you approve or not or sign a paper or not,” Judge Bradley wasn’t won over. He recuses himself and the case is handed to another Black judge, who is a woman. The Pearsons successfully adopt Randall and he grows up alongside his white brother and sister.

The plotline isn’t out of the ordinary. According to Adoption USA: A Chartbook Based on the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents, the majority of adopted children are nonwhite, but 73 percent of their parents are white.

The Emmy-nominated series, which has never shied away from issues surrounding race, decided to tweet viewers about their reactions to Judge Bradley’s reasoning.

Transracial Adoption In the News

Black Ohio Couple Honors Their Pact to Not Separate Siblings, Adopts All 6 Children

Race Matters: 10 White Celebrities Raising Black Children

Discounting Black Children: How the Racially Skewed Economics of Adoption Devalue Black Lives

Some vehemently disagreed.

Others understood where he came from.

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