At 27 years old, Terrell and Jauris Joseph are married, own a house, are fathers of two kids and are Black and gay.
The Atlanta duo are also full-time content creators, sharing their involved role as fathers with such videos as them styling their daughter’s natural hair and performing the latest dance trends as a family.
But they’re also sharing some personal aspects of their journey, such as how their family came to be and what it’s like being a young gay couple.
“With fatherhood in general and Black fatherhood, I know that historically, [the stereotype is dads] aren’t involved. We can be active in our kids’ lives and give them everything that they dream of, or at least try to,” Terrell told “Good Morning America.” “Being same-sex parents … we’re not raising our kids to be in a sexual identity or to think a specific type of way other than being open-minded.”
“Breaking all of those stereotypes … bit by bit, I think, has always been our goal,” he added.
To that end, the Josephs — who were eager to start a family — said when they looked around, there weren’t others who had a story like theirs, so they decided to document their lives.
“We didn’t see any people of color that were in a same-sex marriage relationship that we can follow along on a journey that were having kids, so that we can kind of see, ‘OK, are we doing this right?’ So we just decided to kind of fill the void, and be the testers and share our journey,” Terrell said.
The road to a family
Though it may look like all fun and games dancing to the latest TikTok craze with their almost-3-year-olds Ashton and Aria, the beginning of the Josephs’ story was quite the opposite.
At 22, both Terrell and Jarius were working full-time corporate jobs, had just bought a house and were ready to start a family. Terrell admittedly was the most adamant, sharing that as early as 19 he was looking into adoption and surrogacy from his college dorm room.
“I grew up around a ton of kids, I was a godfather and I knew no matter what I wanted to be a parent,” he said.
Because they were so young, they realized most adoption agencies wouldn’t work with them and they said surrogacy agencies charged upward of $150,000 for a pregnancy. So they decided to privately hire a surrogate.
That pregnancy started off extremely well, as the surrogate became pregnant on the first try and everything seemed to be going smoothly. But 20 weeks into the pregnancy, the surrogate experienced a miscarriage.
“One thing we do is try to always be super transparent. It was a rough time for us to be able to try to handle that,” Jarius shared.
After working through that loss, they found an amazing new surrogate who, as Jarius put it, “was just about everything we could have ever dreamt of in a surrogate, but she was just having the hardest time getting pregnant.”
The Josephs said they figured the first surrogate wasn’t going to work out, but didn’t have the heart to tell her and tried one more time. At the same time, they had already moved on and were working with the second surrogate.
The attempt with the second surrogate was a success, and she quickly let Terrell and Jaruis know she’d become pregnant. They were ecstatic.
But then the first surrogate came back a few weeks later saying she was pregnant, too.
“Everything was like times two. And I was like, ‘I’m so terrified … I want to be a dad, but like, I can’t do two at once,'” Jarius said. Terrell, on the other hand, was thrilled.
“I was over the moon because I always wanted twins and this was the next closest thing.”
But they still had no idea of the surprises to come.
“Because we had just came from the miscarriage, we were terrified that something was going to go wrong,” Terrell said.
Baby Ashton, born to their first surrogate, was about a month premature and weighed 3 pounds, 11 ounces. The preemie was in the neonatal intensive care unit for 13 days and, once he was pronounced healthy, headed home with the Josephs. He was an only child for a total of five weeks.
“And then his sister was born,” Terrell said. Aria was also a preemie, born four weeks early, setting their hearts racing.
“It was just like, ‘Geez, do we have to have a near-heart attack before everyone’s born?'” Terrell said.
“Looking back on it, it was just perfect. Once we actually got them back home, it was like everything we wanted,” Jarius added.
“God’s timing is perfect.”
Dreams do come true
Terrell and Jarius were all in, quitting their corporate jobs to be full-time content creators and to be able to stay at home with their kids.
They share positivity and educate people on their journey, and have almost 1.5 million followers across their social platforms.
They try to make the kind of content they wish they were able to see when they were going through surrogacy and same-sex marriage.
“I feel like there are so many people in our community who still to this day don’t see the life that they would like to have being actually a possibility,” Jarius said. “Don’t think that just because you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community that you can’t have certain things in life or that success won’t come your way.”
As their kids approach 3 years old, their personalities are starting to come out on camera as they make regular, joyful appearances on their parents’ TikTok page.
“Aria is the next star in the making,” Jarius said. “It is so crazy how she’s just like adopted this larger-than-life personality.”
“Ashton’s very chill and mellow. A little soft. Very spoiled by his daddy. He literally is the sweetest little thing ever,” he added.
The Josephs’ tagline for their TikTok and Instagram channels is “CEOs of Dreams Really Do Come True.”
“We kind of coined that ourselves,” Terrell said, noting that pursuing their dream has paid off. “No matter how many hurdles you have to go through to get to that. I’m sure we’re the CEOs of hurdles, too.”