As a little girl, Cora Jakes Coleman dreamed of becoming a mother – writing letters to a son she knew was going to be named Nehemiah.
But a diagnosis of infertility five years ago, and at the young age of 22, threatened to derail that dream. Cora was devastated and initially felt like she was all alone.
“It was almost like once I heard I was going to have struggles with conceiving a child, I gave up on everything else that I wanted to do,” Cora recently shared with Fertility for Colored Girls as she recalled her early struggle.
The daughter of Bishop T.D. Jakes and First Lady Serita Jakes, Cora knows about faith firsthand through her parents' ministry and now via her own position as director of the children's ministry at The Potter's House of Dallas. Now 27, Cora can pinpoint what made her go public with her infertility challenges via her blog Fertility Faith in early 2012.
“Well, I wanted God to be able to use my heartache for ministry,” Cora said. “I felt like, well Lord, if I'm going to go through this war, let it be to help someone else -- for His glory. The enemy held over my head, for a long time, with my battle of infertility.
“I had to put a flip on it,” she continued. “I had to say, 'Lord, I'm heartbroken, I'm devastated but if you can use this to help someone else, if you can use this to speak life into someone else, then I'll be a willing vessel.'”
Her willingness led her to begin to write about her experience on Fertility Faith. Cora began to use her posts as a tool to reach out to other women and families who were in similar situations. From her own battle with infertility, Cora knows the weight of cultural stigma and shame surrounding the inability to conceive – particularly for women of color.
Cora's own mother was such a strong presence in her life that Cora never considered that she would not be able to bear babies of her own. At one point, Cora thought the pain and shame would overwhelm her.
“When you find out about you infertility, it can automatically become an embarrassing thing, a shameful thing,” she said. “What happens in this house stays in this house, let's sweep it under the rug and not look at it. And my hope and desire is to bring a positive spin on infertility overall. That is isn't just affecting women, but it is affecting people; whereby we become comfortable in a dead space and are not able to position ourselves for greatness. I think ...we need to come out, to speak life against the shame of infertility. It's just another way of speaking out. My goal is that we don't fight alone.”
Cora isn't done fighting herself. She and her husband Brandon have adopted a little girl named Amauri who is six years old “going on 30,” Cora explained with a laugh. Cora also hasn't given up on her son Nehemiah. She says his birth is a promise from God and she's been writing letters to him since she was 10 years old. Meanwhile, when Cora is not with her family, she regularly speaks about faith and hope, having been featured as a Woman Thou Are Loosed (WTAL) Conference that began Oct. 2. Cora is also working on a book, “Fighting With Faith.”
Cora said she applauds the work of Fertility for Colored Girls as an organization that “brings such a positive light on such a difficult struggle.” The advice she would give any families hoping for a miracle is to hold on.
“You have the right to have to have bad days, you have the right to have good days,” Cora said. “But you do not have the right to stop fighting for your promise. So I would say to continue to walk forward and if God gives you a 'yes,' stand on that yes, no matter how many 'no's' you get from the world. If I God gives you a yes, continue to fight for that yes because at the end of the day, you'll win.”
Follow Cora's ministry through her Fertility Faith blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.