Reality shows featuring families of couples with multiple children have been the latest phenomenon over the last few years. With shows like John & Kate Plus 8 and following the Duggar family and their multiple spinoffs, viewers are fascinated by large families. But never has one of the shows chronicled a Black family...until Doubling Down with the Derricos premiered in 2020 on TLC.
The show follows Deon and Karen Derrico, their 14 children, and their village who help keep things afloat. While 14 kids may seem like a lot, the Derrico children are not only well behaved, but they are witty, funny, and look out for each other. And during the week of National Parent’s Day, the Derricos deserve the ultimate award.
While the reception has been great, there have still been some negative headlines and blogs questioning how Karen and Deon can afford so many children and questioning why they continue to expand their family. When asked whether or not race has anything to do with those questions, Deon says yes but that it’s he and Karen’s mission to change the narrative of Black families on reality television.
“What’s happening now is we’re seeing a change in our world with being able to accept us just as a family,” Deon tells Shadow and Act when we spoke to them for National Parent Day this month. “Yes we are a family of color and race is made to be focused on at times, but I think what’s starting to happen specifically with our show is that people are actually watching us for just us. And we're also giving awareness to our community and our culture but in a positive and enlightening way.”
Their love story is classic. Karen and Deon met at a nightclub and according to the mother of 14, he couldn’t keep his hands off her on the dance floor. It was Deon’s boldness that captivated Karen, with her noting he had no problems dancing alone. They exchanged numbers and have pretty much been inseparable since. She says despite their instant attraction, they didn’t rush things or immediately put labels on their relationship.
It would make sense that their family would be unconventional in a similar way, with the couple opting not to put restrictions on anything. While they admit one thing that bonded them from the early days of their dating life was their desire to have a big family, 14 kids never crossed their minds. But within a year of their relationship, they suffered their first miscarriage. They’d suffer three additional miscarriages in between having their first two children. With such loss, there was no way they’d put boundaries on their family down the line.
With a push from Deon to visit a fertility specialist, Karen learned why she miscarried. “I have what’s called low progesterone levels,” Karen explains. “Progesterone makes the baby stick [to the wall of the uterus]. When a woman is pregnant, those levels are supposed to rise because your pregnancy is growing but mine always dropped.”
As a result, she was put on medication to receive progesterone during her pregnancies to help sustain them, which was ingested through a needle oil. It worked out in more ways than one, no pun intended, and the couple would have back-to-back multiples over the next decade.
In their birth order, Karen and Deon are parents to Darian; Derrick; twins Denver and Dallas; quintuplets Deniko, Dariz, Deonee, Daician, and Daiten; twins Diez and Dior; and triplets Dawsyn, De'Aren and Dyver. None of the Derrico children were conceived through the assistance of fertility drugs or procedures.
Karen admits having multiples back to back was overwhelming, but she wouldn’t change it for anything. And whether they’ll have more children she says is not up to them.
“We said from day one that we wanted as many children as God would bless us to have,” she says. “I admire the women out there who said, ‘Oh I know it was only two for me...I know it was only five for me,’ I admire you because you know your numbers. But for me and him, we don’t have a magic number. How can you put an end date on something that you’re passionate about? Something that you love? I love being pregnant. I love the fact of carrying our baby and I love how God uses me as that vessel carrying a gift.”
Check out the full interview where they explain why they’ll never be empty nesters, their relationship with TLC, how they keep the fun in their large family without breaking the bank and discuss more of what they hope to show the world through their show.
Doubling Down with the Derrico’s airs every Tuesday on TLC at 10 pm EST.