THOUGH JO AND BROOKE MCKAHAN now call Newark home, their story begins outside of central Ohio. Growing up in New Philadelphia, Jo spent her summers in Cambridge and later moved there to start beauty school 8 years ago. It was in Cambridge that following year when she met Brooke’s sister Shannon, who insisted the two meet. But Brooke resisted, because Shannon had been trying a little too hard to play matchmaker recently. Later on, Brooke came across Jo’s picture and asked Shannon, “That’s her? Hook me up!” to which Shannon replied, “Oh she’s not asking about you anymore.” So Brooke had to find another friend to introduce her to Jo.
For Brooke and Jo, it was evident right away they had something special; they moved in together within a week. Though they had opposite schedules – Brooke worked 3rd shift in Zanesville – they spent all their time together. “We just took sleeping out of the schedule,” Jo says. They admit that they are very different from each other: Brooke is easy-going, forgiving, and relaxed, while Jo is type A and wound tight. says Jo. Indeed, since they met in 2007, they’ve spent a total of three nights apart.
Early in their relationship, they knew they wanted to get out of Cambridge, so they began moving west. They first moved to Zanesville, until they found the home they really wanted in Newark. They wanted a home with plenty of land for their 4 dogs, and once they settled, they added 4 pigme goats, 27 chickens and 2 more dogs! Also added to the mix were Jo’s three children from a previous relationship.
Later that year, Brooke proposed to Jo by leaving her a note in her lunch, which read: “LET’S GET MARRIED” in big block letters. They wasted no time, traveling to Vermont in the hopes of becoming legally married, however, their legal civil union was not converted to marriage because it was before a certain cutoff date. Years later, they learned of the C-Bus of Love and were legally married last summer along with 25 other couples on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
Even after their trip to Vermont, though, they knew they wanted to have a baby, but as the kids got older and more self-sufficient, they enjoyed their new lifestyle and continue to delay starting the process. But as they watched their friends getting pregnant, says Brooke, “we realized we needed to do it now or never.”
Using an anonymous donor from a sperm bank, they tried to get pregnant a total of four times; two attempts resulted in miscarriages. “After the first time [miscarrying], I second guessed going through that again,” explains Brooke. “Every month you don’t want to get your hopes up.” They even had a photo shoot lined up just before their legal wedding that was intended to be used for a pregnancy announcement; instead they used the images as engagement pictures. On their last attempt, they waited the full three months to safely announce.
With their baby due this July, they are planning all the logistics of the birth now. They are planning to have the baby in Washington, DC, where they can both be listed on the birth certificate, and where second parent adoption is allowed. Once the second parent adoption takes place in DC, all states, including Ohio, have to acknowledge it. In order to ensure all goes as planned, they will need to induce three weeks prior to the due date.
As Jo and Brooke anxiously await the arrival of the newest addition to their family, they are also approaching the 1 year anniversary of their Washington DC wedding. Jo and Brooke will have a lot to celebrate this summer!