Terrell Joseph and Jarius Goudeau are the proud fathers of a pair of beautiful infants: Everyone calls Ashton and Aria “twins,” but they were actually born a month apart, to two different women.
After recovering from a heartbreaking miscarriage with a surrogate last year, Terrell, 24, and Jarius, 25, both bisexual, decided to try again. Following a few failed attempts and a disagreement with one surrogate, they lined up another, who was inseminated with both of their sperm. A few days later, though, they learned the first surrogate was pregnant, as well.
Our #MCM goes out to our son, Ashton. Our little man has such an incredible story. He was born prematurely, only weighing 3lbs 11oz! We were so afraid for him being so tiny but he wasn’t at all. Ashton defied all odds and constantly proved the doctors wrong. After only 13 days, he was able to come home! He now weighs 11lbs and is full of life and personality! He makes us so proud to be his fathers. Everyone say hi to Ashton
“At this point we didn’t know whether to jump for joy or crap a brick,” Terrell (above, left) tells NewNowNext. “We were expecting results from the new surrogate in just a few days.”
And as it turned out, she was pregnant as well: Their son, Ashton, was born prematurely on July 27, 2017, and had to stay in the NICU for several weeks. Their daughter, Aria, arrived on September 9.
The couple me six years ago and got engaged in 2014. Terrell had grown up around a lot of children and was a godfather twice over by the time he reached high school, so children were always in the cards. “I’ve always had ’baby fever,'” he says. But Jarius wanted more stability before having kids—they settled on first adopting three dogs.
A year after their engagement, they bought a house together. While they hadn’t tied the knot yet, it felt like the time was right to start trying for kids. “It was full-force baby time after that,” Terrell recalls.
They had considered adopting, but ultimately decided that might make more sense down the road.
“We had this theory that if we were to adopt first, we’d probably never move forward with biological children—out of fear that our adopted son or daughter would feel they weren’t ’enough,'” says Terrell. “But if we did it biologically first, once they were a little older we’d adopt a toddler or elementary-age child that could feel love from us and their siblings.”
They used an at-home insemination kit with both surrogates, and both donated sperm. (They’ve chosen not to find out which of them is Ashton or Aria’s biological father.)
While their journey to parenthood didn’t play out as expected, they suggest other same-sex couples pursuing parenthood keep their eyes on the prize.
“Don’t give up, and don’t let anyone stand in your way,” Terrell advises. “There could be some heartbreak and some ’No’ before you finally get your ’Yes.’ But in the end, you won’t even remember the struggle it took to get them here—you’ll only know the fuzzy feeling you get every time you look at them knowing you’re their world.”
And while having two children was unexpected, they say it’s been a double blessing.
“They definitely keep us busy,” says Terrell, “Sometimes I feel like I spend all day wrangling dogs, washing bottles, and changing diapers. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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After that first miscarriage, Jarius and Terrell decided to keep the babies a secret at first—even after they’d brought them both home.
“We wanted to be a little selfish and keep them all to ourselves while trying to master our parenting skills without outside influences,” Terrell explains. “We wanted to find our groove.”
They got married in January, using their wedding reception as a way to formally introduce Ashton and Aria to friends and family. “We wanted to give our kids a grand entrance into the world,” Terrell says. “The entire room was filled with tears.”
Many gay fathers are forced to raise kids without paid parental leave, which is often only available to mothers. That’s true for Terrell, who works in HR and talent acquisition for a Fortune 500 company: “My job currently does not offer any type of paternity leave,” he explains. “They plan to implement it in 2018, but only plan to give dads one week of paid leave. I guess one week is better than nothing, but still isn’t enough to bond with your little one. Especially when we have two.”
Fortunately, he’s able to work from home most of the time. Also fortunate: Jarius, who works as an account manager for a information technology company, gets six months of paid leave, plus the option to take an additional three months unpaid.
“This was extremely helpful and such a blessing,” he says. “Everyone we tell is almost always in complete shock.”
And Terrell and Jarius both benefit from supportive and involved families eager to help out with the new additions. “Our lives feel complete now,” Terrell says. “We have our home, our kids, our marriage, and our dogs. Life is good.”