In Tuesday’s episode of NBC’s hit show “This Is Us,” viewers witnessed what real parental love looks like.
(WARNING: This article contains spoilers.) To provide some context for those who have not seen the show, ‘This Is Us’ centers around the individual and family life and struggles of the Pearson family: siblings Kate, Kevin, and Randall, and their parents, Rebecca and Jack.
Kate and Kevin are twins; initially they were part of a triplet pregnancy, but tragically, their brother was stillborn. The day they were born, Rebecca and Jack also adopted baby Randall, born on the same day and abandoned by his biological father.
The show moves back and forth between the present day (in which the siblings are adults) and scenes from the past. Jack, who has been described as “the best dad on TV,” passed away at some point, although he is frequently present in flashback scenes. It has not yet been revealed how or exactly when he died.
Randall has recently discovered his biological father and has begun building a relationship with him. Even more recently, he discovered that his adoptive mother Rebecca knew who his biological father was, and kept the secret from him.
In Tuesday’s episode, Randall, still dealing with the complicated feelings involving his adoptive and biological parents, accidentally ingests psychedelic mushrooms and experiences a vision in which he airs his grievances with adoptive father Jack.
Randall explains to Jack that he doesn’t feel like an equal part of the family, as compared to his siblings. “I was a replacement for your dead baby,” he asserts. “That’s all I’ve ever been.”
While the scene is portraying a drug-induced hallucination, fans of the show would no doubt agree (based on flashback scenes demonstrating Jack’s uniquely caring personality) that Jack’s response in the vision is exactly what he would have said, had he still been alive.
“The moment I saw you, I knew you were my boy,” says Jack, while pulling Randall in close. “You weren’t a choice, Randall. You were a fact.”
Just as it is portrayed in the fictional “This Is Us,” real-life adoption can be complicated and at times challenging. Many adopted children can identify with the feelings and questions expressed by Randall. And yet, just like Randall, every child deserves to know that, regardless of circumstances beyond their control, they are more than simply a “choice.” Their existence — and their right to live — has always been a fact, and a beautiful one at that.