High School sweethearts and small-business owners Mia and Rozonno (Ro) McGhee had always wanted a family. But after 10 years of marriage and several unsuccessful attempts, Mia and Ro received some astonishing news: they were having sextuplets! After the birth of their six little miracles –and Columbus, Ohio’s first set of sextuplets—on June 9, 2010, Mia posted a picture of her family on Facebook and the photo immediately went viral, capturing the hearts of people across the world, including Oprah Winfrey. After Oprah featured the family on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the McGees are back with their own Oprah Winfrey Network reality show Six Little McGhees, premiering Saturday, December 15 at 10 p.m and airing every Saturday afterward at 9 p.m. EBONY.com caught up with the busy parents to find out how they juggle it all.
EBONY: Through your first family photo that went viral and your appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, people the world over feel like they know your family. What inspired you to let the world all the way into your life through your new reality show?
Mia McGhee: It was really Oprah. We just felt so comfortable with her and the reputation she built. After appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show, we received thousands of emails from people all over the world telling us how our story inspired them. It really inspired us to want to do a reality show and we do feel like we have a story to tell that can help other people.
Ro McGhee: It was very easy [to make the decision to do a show]. It made us feel so good to know that people wanted to continue on in their journey to have children because they saw that we can do it and they can stay married too and raise a family too. We were so blown away by it that it was easy for us to make the decision.
EBONY: You’ve shared a lot about what a struggle it was, not only to conceive but also to carry children to full-term. Before the sextuplets, you spoke about a heartbreaking miscarriage you suffered with your twins. How were you able to get through that time and even try to have children again after that?
MM: After we lost the twins, that was heart-breaking for me. It was terrible. My husband is the one who kept me going, though. I didn’t want to try again. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever faced in my life. But he said, “We know what the solution is and what we can do to get your pregnant, so let’s go ahead and try again.” That was July 2009 when I miscarried and then I tried again November and I was really in the slums then and I just didn’t want to face that again.
EBONY: What kept you so strong for your wife, Ro, in encouraging her to try for a family again?
RM: I knew how much we really wanted it. We’re really involved in our nieces’ lives and we love children and we wanted a family so I said, “Let’s try again.” It was the feeling that I had that really knowing that we could do this, we could have children, and boy was God good!
EBONY: Even carrying sextuplets was a risk in itself. How did you get through that pregnancy and did you feel that the miscarriage you suffered prepared you to handle six children?
MM: I think so. That was a part of our journey that was supposed to happen. If I’d never lost the kids, I never would never have known how that felt, so when I found out that I was having sextuplets and I was urged to do a selective reduction because it would’ve been safer on my body to have twins, I said, “I can’t do that. I was very passionate at that point. I didn’t like the situation that was given to me, but I love my kids and I couldn’t face God on judgment day. I was like, “You know what? Yes, if they need to perish, He will do it. I can’t do it. It won’t be on my hands.” So, [going through the miscarriage] made me very passionate.
RM: Going through those crossroads, it really made us grateful to God, also. I’m appreciate and we are grateful waking up to six runny noses and all that. With everything we have going on, I try to remain positive and I want to raise children in a positive atmosphere. I might be livid, but I always try to look at the positive side. I think it’s a sacrifice you have to make. How do you want to raise your family? Do you want to be bitter and upset or do you just compromise and make it work. I always want to find out what’s the real reason behind the anger and kind of deal with that and just stay positive.
EBONY: Is that how you’ve both managed to maintain your marriage and your family life, despite these heart-breaking setbacks, remaining positive?
MM: I think, overall, love. We’ve been married now for 13 years and we were married 10 years without children and we were together in our twenties and things like that. Owning our own company and having a family, this is something we always dreamed of having and now we do!
RM: Dreams do come true!
MM: With the kids and juggling everything, like he said, it’s a sacrifice. It’s a huge sacrifice. There are plenty of rough days, which you’ll see on the show. But, you know what? They will grow up and when they grow up they’re going to have duties and responsibilities and hopefully I will have much less to do! I But, I love my family and this is something I’ve always wanted. I always dreamed of this and it was definitely something I want to do so it’s not hard to do. I love watching my family and our business grow and our love is established.
RM: I look back over my life I say man we came so far. I am blessed. Growing up without a father and my mother having her issues, I know I want to be there for my children. I can be their mentor. I think that’s the greatest thing a man can do is being there for their children. Support your wife by being there for her and having your kids see that.
EBONY: So in a way, Ro, would you say that having these children and this healthy family is healing for you when it comes to your own childhood pain and disappointments?
RM: Absolutely it is healing. Every day it’s like, “Man, I’ve got children and I’m playing with them. I just always have this feeling like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. You get that feeling as a father. Their smile is just everything. I can’t even explain it. When you walk through the door and they say, “Daddy’s here!” and they run up and hug your leg, like, “Man, my children love me.” And that’s the kind of love I have for my father even though he wasn’t there. Children still love us. And I just love being in their presence.
MM: Yes, instead of us just being bitter or angry about our past, because it wasn’t always perfect, what we choose to do is make a decision. Ro and I, we always talk about what we can do differently than what we saw growing up and how we didn’t want that to happen to our kids. So with all that happened, we just release it. We didn’t have it the best and I think that’s what keeps us together, because we know what we want.
EBONY: Were there in influences in your life that helped you to formulate this positive attitude and to make conscious decisions to be better than what you saw growing up?
RM: Church! We were going to church together on a regular basis and part of that is soul-searching, trying to find out who we are and trying to find out what roles to play. How should I be a man and how should I be a woman. They really taught us to pray and when you pray, pray fervently.
EBONY: Did you watch the reality show Jon and Kate Plus Eight at all, and does the impact that reality shows can have on families concern you at all when making your own show?
MM: I didn’t watch it at all, though I probably should look into it. But no, I’m not concerned. I think each marriage is different of course. We have to make a conscious decision to be together each day. I don’t think anyone [television cameras, etc.] has that much power over my marriage. We have a pretty good relationship. It’s not always perfect, but we don’t let anything break us up. You make your marriage what it is and we choose to make ours what it is today.
RM: We’re married, we’re one, and to keep that going, I just get rid of all the gossip and negativity that drains your energy, even on television. Instead, I go read a book or I watch [OWN TV show]Master Class, things that are positive. We know people who got divorced and we didn’t and I am pretty confident that we want to do this thing called marriage. There are struggles we go through every day and so we try to focus on mastering those issues and showing other people that no matter what you’re going through, you can make it.
‘Six Little McGhees’ Premieres Saturday, December 15th at 10 p.m. on OWN. Brooke Obie writes the award-winning blog DistrictDiva.com. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeObie.