National Adoption Month

7 Great TV Shows With Adoption Storylines You Can Watch Right Now

Whether you like comedy, drama, or something for the whole family.

November is National Adoption MonthIn honor of the month, we will be bringing attention to the thousands of people in foster care awaiting forever homes, as well as those who provide and advocate for them. These stories emphasize the idea that families are bound together by the love they share, rather than their biological roots. 

Families are a popular focus for television series — especially shows that loved ones of all ages can watch together. As we all know, not all real-life families are alike, so the same should be said about their onscreen counterparts. From single parents to same-sex couples to blended families, many popular series have made an effort to depict a variety of households.

That includes showing adopted children — whether they start out the series in their adopted home, or find their family later on. Since November is National Adoption Month, we at A Plus wanted to share a few of our favorite examples.


Whether you're looking for a comedy, a drama, or something appropriate for the younger viewers in your life, all of these shows explore — in their own unique ways — the joys, difficulties, and complex questions that can come with adopting a child. And to make things even easier for you, all of the titles are available to stream on Netflix or Hulu.

Check them out below, but be aware that some of the clips and summaries may contain mild spoilers.

1. This Is Us

NBC's tearjerker of a drama series focuses on the Pearson family throughout the years. Rebecca (Mandy Moore) gives birth to triplets, one of whom is stillborn. She and her husband Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) choose to adopt Randall, another newborn at the hospital who was abandoned by his father. 

As an adult, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) searches for information about his biological family. A recent episode of the series (season 2, episode 7: "The Most Disappointed Man") also explored the complex issues surrounding a White family seeking to adopt a Black child in 1980.

Where to watch: Hulu

2. The Fosters

The title of this Freeform series has a double meaning. Foster is the name of lesbian couple Stef and Lena (Teri Polo and Sherri Saum), who also take in two foster kids, to raise with Stef's biological son and adopted twins.

The show also explores the romantic feelings between foster daughter Callie (Maia Mitchell) and biological son Brandon (David Lambert), which get especially complicated when Callie learns she can be adopted into the family (season 3, episode 10, "Lucky").

Where to watch: Netflix

3. Modern Family

ABC's long-running, Emmy-winning comedy series focuses on just what the title suggests — a modern family. That includes gay couple Mitchell and Cameron (Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet), who announce to their relatives in the pilot episode that they've adopted Lily, a baby girl from Vietnam.

Over the show's nine seasons, Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) has grown from a cute baby to an interesting and hilarious character all her own. Mitch and Cam have also discussed adopting another baby into the family, although it hasn't happened yet.

Where to watch: Hulu

4. Jessie

This Disney Channel family comedy ran for four seasons and starred Debby Ryan as the title character, a young woman who moves to New York City to become an actress, but ends up working as a nanny for the Ross family's four children — three of whom are adopted.

The episode "Gotcha Day" (season 1, episode 25) focuses on a Ross family tradition of celebrating the anniversary of their kids' adoptions.

Where to watch: Netflix

5. The O.C.

This classic Fox teen drama follows Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie), a troubled teenager who is taken in by the wealthy Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan). After his mother decides to let him stay (season 1, episode 3, "The Gamble"), the Cohens offer to become his legal guardians (season 1, episode 4, "The Debut").

Although Ryan isn't officially adopted by the Cohens, they treat him like a son, and he forms a brotherly relationship with the Cohens' biological son Seth (Adam Brody).

Where to watch: Hulu

6. Parenthood

What better show to feature an adoption storyline than one literally titled Parenthood? On the NBC series, Julia (Erika Christensen) and her husband Joel (Sam Jaeger) adopt a boy named Victor (Xolo Maridueña), whose single mother signed over his rights when she went to prison. The show depicts his difficulties adjusting to a new family.

Later in the series, Julia and Joel also adopt Victor's baby sister — as shown in the series finale, "May God Bless and Keep You Always" (season 6, episode 13).

Where to watch: Netflix

7. Grey's Anatomy

The title heroine of this long-running ABC drama, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), decides with her partner Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) to adopt an orphan from Malawi named Zola, who comes to their hospital to be treated for spina bifida.

The series explores the long and complex process of adoption (and the couple's choice to marry in the meantime), which culminates in the episode "Suddenly" (season 8, episode 10).

Where to watch: Netflix

Cover image via Instagram


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