Many Renton families exchanged gifts to the important father figures in their lives on Sunday, June 16, for Father’s Day. But one Fairwood family’s special gift for their step-dad has gone viral.
Marvin Bowers two stepdaughters, Jia and Jazel Bowers, have legally changed their last names to his. Formerly it was Dennison. They also now share a last name with their younger half sister, Maya Bowers.
“These past 12 years have been like no other, thank you for providing for us through thick and thin,” The Father’s Day card stated. “After all these days, months and years we are happy to finally call ourselves Bowers.”
In the video, the whole family, including the mom Sae Bowers, gets emotional as they all surprise Marvin with the news.
Jia, who posted the video to Twitter, is soon-to-be a senior in college and wanted to make sure the name change was before she graduated at Seattle University next year in the nursing program. She tweeted out a video of her dad receiving the news, and it now has millions of views and hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets.
Jia and her sister Jazel were nervous to tell their step-dad about the name change because they were unsure how he’d react, Jia stated in an email. But when he started to tear up, she did too. She also realized how much it meant to him, and solidified the importance of the name change for her.
“I realized that I did want to change my name and this is something that would make the family cohesive and something my dad deserved,” Jia stated in an email.
It was already a loving, intimate moment for their family, and then Jia’s video of the surprise went viral.
Jia states she expected it to get some attention, since Twitter users love sentimental videos, but seeing 970,000 likes and over 10 million views was surreal. She soon had major news stations reaching out to her.
My biological dad was a drug addict and physically abusive to my mother. 12 years ago, my stepdad brought the light into our world again. He’s always loved me and my sister as his own. And so we decided to change our last name this Father’s Day. I love you Dad. 💛 pic.twitter.com/q8XnmkypK1
— Jia 💖💚 (@jialaurenxo) June 16, 2019
She’s loved the funny Twitter replies and photos of people crying over her video, she stated. She also got a lot of messages of people who related to her story and shared tales of non-biological parents that look out for them like blood.
What touched her the most, she states, is a reply from a first-generation student and daughter of immigrants who changed her last name to her stepfather’s, and replied with a story of her school calling her by her stepfather’s last name at her graduation.
Her upbringing is filled with wonderful memories of her stepfather, who has been in her life for 12 years. She remembers he made a family tradition of going to Clam Lights at Gene Coulon Memorial Park, watching “The Polar Express” and making homemade hot chocolate every Christmas.
He was also there to support her and her sisters at soccer games, ballet recitals, go to the drive-in movies and even got them into anime and computer games.
“He is a really big gaming and anime nerd,” Jia stated in an email.
Her biological father was physically abusive to her mother and a drug addict, according to Jia. She states in her tweet that her stepdad “brought the light into our world again.”
Jia stated her sister and herself were presented the option to change their last name for a few years now, but it took some time for the idea to grow on them. You have a connection with your name, she states.
Jia hopes those who see her family’s story will not take anything for granted. She stated that often folks go on auto-pilot and are super used to the things we have in life, and she wants this video to stop people and take time to be grateful for their own family members that enhance their life, whether they’re blood or not, even a close friend who is like family.
She said in the moment during that video, she could feel all the love her stepdad had for them, and how much the whole family had with each other.
“I love you Dad,” Jia states at the end of her tweet.