Marvin Bowers, of Renton, Washington, learned that his two stepdaughters are legally changing their last name to his.
Jia Dennison, 22, Jazelle Dennison, 19, have had Bowers as the sole father figure in their lives for the past 12 years, when he started dating their mom, Sae, who he married.
"I forget he's my stepdad," Jia, a rising college senior, told "Good Morning America." "I just call him Dad. He treats me and my sister like we're his own."
Jia and Jazelle surprised Bowers on Sunday with a letter that explained their last name would now be Bowers. Jazelle has already changed her name and Jia, because of scheduling conflicts, is having hers changed on Tuesday.
Jia posted a video of the emotional moment on Twitter, where it quickly went viral.
Bowers would sometimes make jokes or hint about his stepdaughters taking his name when they would be called out at things like school awards ceremony, according to Jia.
"It’s my dad who’s always been like, ‘Hmmm, Bowers would sound nice,'" she said, adding that she had some reservations at first. "But I wasn’t sure because when you have your last name it does have meaning and I had an attachment, but over time I knew I wanted to do it."
What gave Jia the final push to change her name is that she wants to hear Bowers when she graduates from college with a nursing degree next year, becoming the first person in her family to get a college degree.
"That’s a big deal for me being a first-generation student and to think that when I cross that stage and they say, 'Bowers,' that’s what I want," she said. "My stepdad is the one who raised me."
Marvin and Sae Bowers also have a daughter together, 11-year-old Maya, who will now share the same last name as her big sisters.
"She’s super excited," Sae said of her youngest daughter. "This is full circle, like tying the bow on top of the present."
She said her husband was "all smiles" after the surprise but also told her that it felt "a bit surreal."
"From the get-go he embraced these girls as his own, just bringing what a father would be into their lives, something they never really had," she said. "He’s just always been there, in all ways."
The Bowers family really let the tears flow even more after the video ended, according to Jia.
"In the video it didn’t really capture us being a mess, but it continued throughout the day," she said. "Once the camera cut off [Marvin] really cried out loud."
"He’s great and he’s amazing and he provides for this family in every way," Jia said.
Editor's note: This was originally published on June 17, 2019.