In this week’s episode of “This is Us,” we followed adoptive parents Jack and Rebecca through the home study and finalization processes of their adoption. But, while their post-placement visits seemed to go well, the Pearsons hit a hurdle when it came to finalizing Randall’s adoption.

*Spoilers for those who haven’t watched yet!*

When Randall’s case was presented before a black judge, he refused to finalize the adoption, citing questions about the Pearsons’ home study. When Jack and Rebecca approached him after the hearing, he explained that he would never be able to approve their adoption — because of his belief that white parents could never properly raise a black child and cope with all the unique challenges of doing so.

But, in typical fashion, Rebecca didn’t give up — and, after three weeks of pushing, the couple managed to finalize Randall’s adoption after the original judge recused himself from the case.

While Randall’s adoption took place in the 1980s, this episode may make prospective adoptive parents wonder: Are adoption finalizations really that subjective?

What an Adoption Finalization is Really Like

Many of the details shown in this week’s episode accurately portray the steps involved in an adoption finalization.

Before you have a court hearing for your adoption finalization, your adoption attorney and home study provider will gather all of the necessary information to submit to the adoption judge. Once the adoption petition is filed, your attorney will assist in setting up a finalization date.

The actual finalization process is very quick: The judge will swear you into court, ask you a few questions about your adoption process and motivations, and then approve your adoption. Most adoption judges will allow you to take some photos commemorating this moment, and you will receive an official adoption decree. Your family will then be officially complete!

Adoption Finalizations and Transracial Adoptions

In “This is Us,” Randall’s adoption takes place in the 1980s — which was a completely different world for adoptions than today. Not only were closed adoptions far more common, but views of parents adopting children of different races were much more negative.

This was an issue of education; many people did not understand that transracial adoptions could be successful, as long as the adoptive parents took the right steps to surround their children with diversity and educate themselves about what their racial differences would mean. In fact, in 1973, the Child Welfare League of America updated its standards to only recommend same-race placement in domestic adoption.

Obviously, that’s not the case today. Many families happily adopt children of different races, and the growing racial makeup of the U.S. has helped to normalize “nontraditional,” blended families.

The adoption home study process has updated requirements that help protect adoptive families from any subjectivity in transracial adoption finalizations. Each family wishing to pursue a transracial adoption must be specifically approved to adopt a child of a certain race before placement. That way, when the adoption paperwork arrives for a judge to oversee, they can be reassured that a transracial adoption within a certain case is in the best interest of all involved.

So, while the Pearsons may have undergone some extra scrutiny for their transracial adoption, adoptive parents today can be reassured that their transracial adoption will be approved quickly and with congratulations. Your American Adoptions specialist will always provide the education and assistance you need to feel prepared for not only your adoption finalization but your adoption of a child of a different race, as well.

To learn more about transracial adoption with our agency, please call 1-800-ADOPTION.

You can watch “This is Us” online on Hulu.