Our Counselors: Allen and Patricia Cooke

February 23, 2024

At Verity’s Village, we believe that support can come in many different forms, but one very important form of support is emotional and mental support. Due to this, we were so happy to have Allen and Patricia Cooke join our mission as counselors for parents as they journey through a prenatal diagnosis, as they learn to care for a medically complex child, and when they go through a loss. Counseling is not about moving past grief or “getting over it,” but learning to live life through the grief and learning to carry it with you.

I am pleased to share the blog post below with all of you, so you can get to know our counselors, Allen and Patricia Cook, even better!

– Brooke Shambley

Allen and Patricia Cook: How It Began

In 2020, our daughter, Hannah, received the diagnosis of Trisomy 18 for our granddaughter, Jewel. 

Because of our unfamiliarity with Trisomy 18, we began to research the condition, which led to sheer terror. We saw over and over, “Not compatible with life.” We were heartbroken and scared. 

Regardless, as a family, we were committed to fight for her survival, even though we had been told there was little chance that she would survive long enough to be born. We began to prepare for whatever and wherever the journey took us. 

Patricia, through her research, came across Verity’s Village and over the next several weeks, had conversations with Beverly. In those conversations, Beverly discovered that we were Christian counselors. She approached us about the possibility of partnering with Verity’s Village as counselors to offer support to the community of ‘From Diagnosis to Delivery’ and eventually ‘From Heartache to Hope.’ 

Late in 2020, we all traveled to Atlanta where Hannah had been scheduled for a C-Section at 37 weeks. Very early that morning, we all gathered in front of the hotel to see them off since, because of Covid, we were not allowed to go to the hospital. I remember walking back up to the hotel room and unsuccessfully trying to go back to sleep.  I remember the dark curtain of dread that hung around me. I expected the call at any time to be, “she’s gone” and that we would begin the journey of grief that we had sat through with so many of our clients. The call did come but it was not what we expected. “She’s here, she’s crying, and she’s breathing on her own,” said my son-in-law, Breck’s voice over the phone. I don’t remember much after that, only that I was able to go to sleep knowing that, for now, we had her and would fight for her with every breath. 

I’ve been told many times how cruel it is to bring a child into the world that you know will suffer and be a burden on the family and society. But, because of what looked like a tragedy to those around us, God was actually opening unbelievable windows and doors for our ministry, Paraclete, Inc. 

Jewel celebrated her third birthday just a few months ago. She is happy and thriving. We’ve had to learn to do things differently as a family and basically learn a new culture and language, but we tell others, “Jewel did not get off the bus in our village, we got off the bus in hers. It is our responsibility to learn how she learns, how she communicates, and how we can give her the best life possible.”  

The inevitability of Trisomy 18 is that we often lose babies and children who appear to be thriving. For that reason, we sometimes grieve. We pray that Jewel will be the exception and that she will be with us for many years. But Jewel is surrounded by love and is cared for and doted over by everyone who meets her. 

As counselors, we hold three virtual support sessions per month along with several individual sessions with moms and dads who have received a life-limiting diagnosis. Sometimes we meet with them in the group for expectant parents, then as medical parents, and then sadly in From Heartache to Hope, our loss group. In each of these stages, we offer hope, and we pray for peace. These parents are our heroes. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in the face of “professionals” and say, “I’ll fight for the life of my baby.” 

We were fortunate and blessed to have a supportive medical team at Jewel’s birth, for each of her surgeries, and now, as she continues to amaze all of us. 

In all the conversations that we have had with parents who are expectant, who are medical parents learning to navigate life, and with those who have lost their little ones, we hear lots of words of uncertainty, sometimes fear, and sometimes unimaginable grief; but we have never heard the word “Regret”. We never hear stories of the trauma caused by choosing life over termination. 

It is an honor to be Jewel’s Mimi and Pop. 

In my Facebook memories today, there is a quote from 4 years ago that says, “The only way God can show us He’s in control is to put us in situations we can’t control.” 

– Allen (and Patricia) Cooke

We hope you enjoy these photos of Allen and Patricia as well as their precious Jewel!

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Do you have a prenatal diagnosis that you are experiencing? Do you need support? Join our community here to reach out to Allen and Patricia Cooke.

Follow Verity’s Village on Facebook and Instagram for more information and education on the various diagnoses parents face and their stories of hope.