After This Is Us season 5, episode 4, “Honestly” aired, it seemed even more like Ellie could be scamming Toby and Kate. Ellie (played by Annie Funke) is pregnant and has decided to place her baby for adoption. She selects Kate and Toby as potential adoptive parents for her baby, but fans are skeptical of the This Is Us newcomer because she seems too good to be true. Ellie has so much in common with Kate and Toby that many fans on Twitter and Reddit thought she was “fishy” and “off”, and that Kate and Toby’s adoption process was going unrealistically well.
It is undeniably concerning that Kate and Toby’s adoption of Ellie’s baby seems to be moving very quickly. Though Kate and Toby decided to adopt around the time that Madison told Kevin that she was pregnant, and Madison is much further along in her pregnancy when Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) met Ellie, it had still been well under a year since Kate and Toby started the process. More importantly, very little time passed between Ellie’s first meeting with Toby and Kate, and her decision to move forward with the adoption. It’s unusual – though not unheard of – for an adoption to go so quickly, and seemingly without any hiccups. Though Ellie hasn’t expressed any significant concerns about Kate and Toby, she has dropped a few subtle hints that she might not go through with the adoption.
However, since a flashforward in the This Is Us season 4 finale revealed that Kate and Toby’s son, Jack, has a sister and Kate is unlikely to try and become pregnant again, Kate and Toby almost certainly adopted Hailey. The implication in the first episodes of season 5 is that Ellie is Hailey’s birth mother, but things are almost never that straightforward in This Is Us. Kate and Toby’s adoption storyline with Ellie could play out a few different ways at this point, including the possibility that Ellie is scamming Toby and Kate.
In the This Is Us season 4 finale, “Strangers: Part Two,” a flashforward scene shows a young woman named Hailey (Adelaide Kane) working as an art curator. She rejects a date from a coworker, who asks if it’s because of an unnamed celebrity love interest of hers. Later, she suddenly rushes to leave work after receiving a message. Near the very end of the episode, Hailey bursts into a hospital room where Jack and his wife, Lucy, have just had a baby. She asks if it’s a girl and is relieved when the answer is yes. Jack and Lucy introduce Hailey to her niece, Hope, implying that Hailey is Jack’s sister.
Back in the present day, Kate and Toby have decided to adopt. Kate struggled to become pregnant and had a miscarriage before giving birth to Jack in the This Is Us season 3 finale. Her pregnancy was difficult, and the delivery was life-threatening for both Kate and baby Jack, who was born premature and required a lengthy stay in the NICU. When Kate and Toby realize they want another baby, they know that conceiving another child would be dangerous if not impossible. Toby remarks that the Pearson family has a good track record with adoption, so they decide to go try and add another baby to their family by adopting.
When This Is Us season 5 begins, Kate and Toby are thrilled to hear that a pregnant woman, Ellie, is interested in meeting them and possibly letting them adopt her baby. From the time that they arrive at the park where they meet Ellie, she seems to fit right in with Kate and Toby. Her ringtone is the Ghostbusters theme song, her daughter is named Willow (after Alyson Hannigan’s character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and – most important of all – she wears a Steelers face mask, which This Is Us has firmly established as the Pearson clan’s favorite football team.
All these things could simply be coincidental, but Ellie even acknowledges that she has checked out Kate and Toby’s social media profiles. Ellie could have gathered a lot of information on Kate and Toby before their meeting and used it to carefully craft a persona that would appeal to them with the intention of asking for money and then cutting off contact. Though Kate and Toby supposedly met Ellie through a legitimate adoption agency, it’s still not out of the realm of possibility for Ellie to somehow scam the desperate couple.
Despite the fact that Ellie appears to check so many of the right boxes, some This Is Us fans believe that Ellie has acted “off” and that she made up the story that she told Kate about her childhood bully, Chloe. Even Toby and Kate have expressed concern that the potential birth mother of their adoptive child could be too good to be true. Kate and Toby noticed Ellie acting a bit unusual, especially the way she touches her pregnant belly fondly – as if she is having second thoughts and might back out of the adoption, deciding to keep the child. While that’s definitely possible, it could be a red herring, meant to mislead viewers from what actually happens – Ellie never had any intention of letting Kate and Toby adopt her baby and scams them for money.
However, this is obviously not the couple’s final opportunity to adopt a child. Kate and Toby might not trust the same adoption agency again if they end up getting scammed, but, eventually, Kate and Toby would pursue adoption again – or possibly consider foster care. A heartbroken Kate might turn to her own adoptive brother, Randall, for advice – as she has often done over the course of This Is Us. Knowing that there are many children and teenagers like his own adoptive daughter, Deja, who need homes, Randall could encourage Toby and Kate to consider fostering an older child or teen, whom they later adopt.
Because we know that Jack has a sister in the future, we know that Kate and Toby are likely successful in adopting a baby or child at some point, but Ellie simply seems too good to be true. It might not be a coincidence that the episode where Hailey first appears also marks the return of Dr. K, who gives young Jack and Rebecca some profound insight on life about needing to allow joy and tragedy to coexist. Kate and Toby might be in for a tragic end to their adoption journey with Ellie in This Is Us season 5, yet Hailey’s existence proves that, somehow, joy is just around the corner.