Cora Jakes Coleman is a preacher, author, wife, and loving mother to an adopted 11-year-old girl and 5-year old boy. Her journey to motherhood, however, wasn’t easy. When Coleman was 24, she began blogging about her experience with infertility, failed IVF cycles, and the unshakable faith that carried her through the pain and toward parenthood, as she and her husband desired.
As the daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes and First Lady Serita Jakes, Coleman comes from a family full of payer warriors and has continued the family legacy of ministry. She’s also followed in her parents’ and sister’s footsteps as an author, releasing her third book, Ferocious Warrior: Dismantle Your Enemy and Rise in July. Coleman’s hope is that women who read her book can learn to overcome the stigma of infertility and keep their faith in God strong. MadameNoire caught up with the divine dynamo to talk about living a life in purpose and love, and becoming the parent you desire.
MadameNoire (MN): What was your inspiration behind writing Ferocious Warrior?
Cora Jakes Coleman (CJC): I’ve been sitting on it for years, and the Lord just told me to do it right away. I’ve felt a real draw to teach people that there is a strategy in your pain that will map you to your purpose and to your power, and so Ferocious Warrior is talking about some of the battles that I’ve faced, the years of my life that I feel either people can most certainly relate to, not just my story but the strategy that I received having gone through what I went through and how other people can tap into the ferocious warrior that’s inside of them.
MN: That’s such a powerful title, and strategy is important. Break down the work you do in this area.
CJC: Faith has always been one of my greatest strategies. Prayer has always been a great weapon of mine and I wish I could tell you exactly where that derived from, but I relied on my life of prayer to exemplify what my relationship with God looks like. I pray on the level of my faith because it’s my belief, and I trust that if we pray in such a way that we are undoubtedly sure that God can and will do what we’re asking for, then things can change, and Ferocious Warrior is going to teach you how to pray for things to change and teach you the depth and principles of prayer and how to be still and how to obtain ferocious faith. I believe that it’ll be a great strategy and resource for those who are looking for ways to dismantle the enemy, and sometimes that enemy is ourselves; the negative thoughts we speak of ourselves, the negative things we choose to believe, it’s time for us to dismantle the enemy and rise.
MN: One of the things that you are very open about in the book is your struggle with infertility. Talk about that journey from the beginning and how you realized that conceiving might be an issue.
CJC: It was actually a really bad car accident and to date one of the worst car accidents I’ve been in. My car folded in on me. I was hit by a truck going 40 miles per hour down a side street and the next day, when I decided to go to the hospital and get a CT scan of my body they found a cyst on both of my ovaries and it was in that moment and that time that I found out that I had what they called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and one of the symptoms or side effects of this syndrome is infertility. It was devastating, and I hated that I had fallen into the stigma of what society said infertility was. I hated that I fell into the idea that God couldn’t do for me because of something that man said, and it took me through quite a bit. I had to figure out how to birth something beautiful while being in such a broken place, and the lord navigated me through it. Each IVF cycle that failed, the lord blessed us with an adopted child at the end of each one, and I don’t think that I could love either of my children anymore had I not birthed them myself. So it started with a really horrible car accident and ended with beautiful treasures, and I am so honored to be a mother. I love wearing my mommy hat. It is my greatest reward and greatest gift.
MN: What steps did you take to adopt once you realized that that was what you wanted to do?
CJC: It takes a lot of organizing. You need to get some binders. I think I had a binder for each child and then we had their medical information. When you go through fostering to adopt, there’s a lot of paperwork and caseworkers, and all of that stuff that you have to do, so I was very strategic in organizing. The paperwork is long and tedious and on top of trying to make sure you get the paperwork done you still have to also pour into and develop this child that’s in your home as well. So, we went through a foster care agency and went through the classes and the training that you have to do and they do a home study. They come into your house and see where your cleaning products are, and where your medication is. Do you have any weapons in the home? The whole thing was long and drawn out, but once you end up in that courtroom standing before the judge with this child that you have signed over a hundred sheets of papers for, and that you have taught how to count and read and know colors and shapes, it is a most amazing day. Adoption day for both of our children was the most beautiful day, but you have to be willing to fight and interestingly enough, I thought I would only have to fight for the children that I wanted to birth, but parenting causes you to have to fight for your children whether you birth them or not. So, if you are ready to fight then do it, go after it and love on these children. There are over 440,000 children in foster care and surely, we have the heart to love a few of them.
My son, I cut his umbilical cord. He came home from the hospital with us and he’s been with us his entire life, and my daughter, we got her when she was three turning four, and she’s 11 now. My son is now 5 and he just started kindergarten.
MN: Wow. So you had your son since he was a baby and you adopted your daughter at three year’s old, which is two different completely different things in terms of adjustment. Talk about that, what was it like getting acclimated at each respective age?
CJC: With my daughter, she had her own little personality. When we [first] got her she didn’t really speak very well, she didn’t know her colors or shapes, she couldn’t sing her ABC’s, and as a childcare advocate—I’ve worked in the childcare field for over 20 years now—I completely devoted all of my time to developing her and growing her emotionally and educationally. It was much different with her. She had her own ideas of what family looked like, she had her own experiences with people who said they were going to adopt her but didn’t. We were the fourth home that she had ever been in and so that whole emotional time, and trying to just assure her that she was safe and that we wanted her, and she wasn’t going anywhere was very different from my son because again, we’ve had him since birth and so he knows his story. He knows that he was in another woman’s belly but we were his first steps. So emotionally, developing and supporting my daughter, we went through the foster system that is a flawed system within itself and emotionally and educationally developing her. My son has been very different because they both experienced different forms of trauma that comes with adopted child life.
MN: As a woman of faith, how did support from your family come into play in terms of trying to have children?
CJC: My husband has been my greatest supporter for the last 10 years. We were battling this thing together before we even said anything. I was actually on the phone with him minutes before our car accident, so he has been with me from the very beginning. Of course, we want our own biological children, but we wanted to be parents and he wanted to support my dream of being a parent so he stood with me.
My family had taken our children in as if we birthed them. My daughter is a granny’s child and a g-ma child. She calls my mom granny and she called my sister “g-ma,” because that’s her godmother and her auntie. My sister dreamed about her before we even finalized the adoption. They’re our children and my family has been in full support of it, of course, because we are a blended family across the board. My sister has her bonus babies, and I got heart babies, so our family is a blended family of love and the openness of what God can do when you’re willing to really embrace his plan for your life.
MN: Going back to you having PCOS, I know symptoms can vary greatly. What special measures have you had to take to treat it?
CJC: When I first started with PCOS, they put me on birth control and progesterone supplements and things of that nature very early on. Then, my fallopian tube completely healed, my ovary is healed and my uterus is healed. So everything is a go for us to kind of just try on our own. I’m ovulating normally so I’m not on any supplements or anything like that. God completely healed my body and we’re just waiting on him to produce in us, and we know that it’s going to come. We believe God, and we receive the word that he has spoken over us concerning birthing our own children.
MN: You mentioned that your fallopian tube healed, did you have to have surgery?
CJC: I did. After the car accident, my right ovary and my right fallopian tube had to be removed. Once they opened it they realized that the cyst was 12 centimeters instead of the original nine that they were thinking and so it was not salvageable, but I still have one ovary and one tube left and I’ve seen God do more with less.
MN: What advice do you have for women who are having trouble conceiving or who may be diagnosed as infertile as far as overcoming negative thoughts and moving forward toward a different version of motherhood?
CJC: I believe that the best advice if I could put it in a three-part thing, is to have hope. Keep your hope up. Your faith is built on your hope and your hope is acceptance of everything that you’re believing and trusting God. I know it’s difficult to keep your hope up but keep your hope up.
The second thing that I would say is to listen with your spiritual ear and see with your spiritual eye because if you look and you hear with your spiritual eye and your spiritual hearing, then you will see that the doctors are saying that you are in, pause, fertility. You are in fertility, so everything that has been spoken over you, you can denounce, even now that you are not infertile. But rather you are walking in fertility, that everything that you said the doctor said that you couldn’t do, that actually was proclaiming what you are. You are in fertility. Everything that is around you is productive. You have the power and the ability to produce. Do not let what man said stop the manifestation of God.
Last but not least, it does not take birth in pregnancy for you to be a parent. Love somebody’s child. Love somebody who is out there in need of a mom, in need of a father. If you want to be a mom and you want to be a father, that should go beyond DNA and straight to the heart, and those are the three things that that I would give as advice to anyone who is battling with walking in or going through infertility.
MN: What advice do you have for new adoptive parents?
CJC: My daughter has taught me to be patient. She taught us how to consider people’s stories and to consider people through life. So, be patient, adoptive parents. Be careful what you say. Be careful what you use as punishments and tactics and really affirm your adopted child in their being safe and wanted, and that they belong with you, and they belong in your family. Really cover them and consume them. That is one of the greatest things I could say to adoptive parents.
MN: What do you hope people take away from your book?
CJC: Hashtag “the devil is a dummy” [#TheDevilIsADummy]. You are stronger than you think. There is power in your pain and the map to your purpose once you realize that there’s power in your pain.