FOX’s hit medical series, “The Resident,” has been captivating audiences for years. Now in its fifth season, the primetime drama stars former “Gilmore Girls” star Matt Czuchry, who plays the titular character, Dr. Conrad Hawkins. “The Resident” has served some emotionally-charged storylines in its run so far, including some that touch on adoption.
Many dramas today feature stories of adoption, such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “This is Us.” For medical drama fans, “The Resident” is another show to add to the watchlist, as the show touches on the LGBTQ adoption, open adoption, a birth mother’s choice, and more. Whether you are a loyal viewer or want to learn about adoption in “The Resident,” read on. Here, we will explore some of the adoption topics and lessons offered.
AJ Austin is Adopted
AJ Austin is triple board certified in cardiothoracic, general, and trauma surgery. He is one of the leading surgeons at Chastain Park Memorial Hospital, as portrayed in “The Resident.” We are introduced to Dr. Austin in the first season of the series, but his adoption story really starts to unfold in season 2. As a grown adult, Austin dives into the process of looking for his birth parents. He finds out that they are both prominent doctors. His mother was in medical school and chose to make an adoption plan as she continued her pathway towards becoming a doctor. She knew she could not raise a baby while pursuing her goals, studying, and working the hours expected, and chose an alternate plan for her son’s life. AJ Austin understands this decision.
AJ Austin was raised by two loving adoptive parents, who are very involved in his life, as well as very open and honest about AJ’s adoption. When AJ explains that he found his birth parents, they are accepting and happy for him. They explain that his adoption records were closed, and if they knew about his birth parents, they would have told him. He knows this is the truth.
In season 3, Austin meets his birth parents for the first time. They are married with two other grown children, which brings some hurt and anger for AJ. However, this anger starts to subside in conversations with his biological mother, who explains she never stopped looking for him.
The adoption begins to “open” as the families come together. The even spend Thanksgiving together, where both adoptive and biological parents will meet. AJ’s biological siblings also joined, and after some awkward tension, began to get along. If AJ’s adoption had been open from the beginning, or if there was an ability for AJ’s mother to open the adoption sooner, it may have avoided much of the pain, angst, and feelings of abandonment that he carried throughout his life.
Jake and Gregg Adopt a Child
“The Resident” covers same-sex adoption when two of their main characters set out to adopt a baby. During season 4, plastic surgeon Jake Wong (played by Conrad Ricamora) and his husband, Gregg, were ready to adopt a newborn who was born in the hospital. That was, until, the birth mother’s conservative parents showed up and made an offer she could not refuse. They told her they would continue to support her financially, as long as she chose a straight couple as the adoptive parents.
After the episode aired, Ricamora told Entertainment Weekly that he hoped it would help make people think about the prejudice that gay couples still face, even in modern day:
“I hope it helps bring awareness that this happens way too often. I also hope the episode shows what Bell says is very true: A child needs love and support and the presence of two willing parents…
“I remember when my stepmom married my dad, she was always talking about choice. For gay parents, it’s a choice made over several years to have a child. You continually have to put in resources before you can even adopt a child or work through surrogacy. This means there’s a big commitment involved, which is what a kid needs – committed parents. There are so many LGBTQ couples who are committed to showing a child love and support that still have to face so many more hurdles that are discriminatory. I hope we can let go of some of that and really embrace the idea that commitment is more important than the sexual orientation or identification of the parents is.”
The season ends on a positive note for Jake and Gregg. The two adopt one of the hospital patients, a little girl named Sammie, who was happy to officially be the daughter of these two amazing dads that had been there for her throughout her sickness.
A Closed Adoption Opens Up
One of the most powerful adoption stories in “The Resident” involves Dr. Billie Sutton, a neurosurgeon at Chastain Park Memorial Hospital. During season 4, the fifth year resident reveals a painful secret she has been keeping for many years. This came after her best friend notices several ignored texts on her phone, reading: “Please, just talk to me,” “Just one phone call,” and “You owe me that much.” Billie tells her friend that she was raped when she was 13 years old and got pregnant as a result. She placed the baby boy for adoption. The child was now an 18-year-old man and was trying to contact her. “He won’t take no for an answer,” Billie said. “The records are supposed to be closed, but nothing stays hidden anymore.”
The son, Trevor, wants to meet Billie, but she has mixed feelings about seeing him. “I wonder what he looks like. What kind of person he is. What he’s doing with his life,” she tells her friend. “But he’s the product of something awful, something I have worked very hard to put behind me. It’s not his fault, but it’s the truth. What if I look at his face and all I see is the man who raped me?”
Billie also has the looming question of what to tell Trevor about his biological father, when he asks.
This storyline can open many conversations about open vs. closed adoption. For many birth mothers today, open adoption is a positive choice, but it is just that – a choice. It is a decision that must be made independently, without any pressure, judgment, or criticism. While many birth mothers enjoy the benefits of open adoption, there are some who would prefer a closed adoption. That is okay. There is no right or wrong way to make an adoption plan. Expectant/birth mothers must do what they feel is best for them and their child.
The story of Billie and her son also sheds light on the importance of a proper “Search and Reunion.” While adoption today is more commonly open, there are adults who were adopted as children and are now searching for answers and family members. It is best to conduct a search for birth parents with the help of an adoption professional. If an adoption was closed, it may be hard to obtain information. A reputable and experienced adoption agency or professional can help navigate this process and may work with birth parents to determine what information may be given, with the respect and privacy they deserve.
Trevor now works at the hospital with Billie. You can follow along in their journey to see how their relationship evolves. “The Resident” airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on FOX.
If you would like to learn more about adoption, contact Adoptions With Love today. Whether you are facing an unplanned pregnancy and want to learn more about making an adoption plan or want to adopt, we can help. Call us anytime at 800-722-7731, text us confidentially at 617-777-0072, or contact us online.