“I remember the moment I got the call. The moment she was born. The moment I held her. All the hurt, pain, confusion, questions about adoption, struggles…. they left my spirit in a heartbeat and I became whole. Adoption is a gift. It wasn’t my original plan, but then one never knows the path you are supposed to take, until it is in front of you…handed to you, and as you struggle to catch your breath, you think, ‘there you are…I’ve been waiting for you for so, so long.” – Jackie Cohen, Julia’s Mom
After struggling through two and a half years of IVF, Jackie decided the only way to create her single Mom family was through adoption. Tiffany was the first phone call from the first potential birth mom she ever received. At the end of a two hour call, they decided to take the next step. Tiffany was due on Thursday, and it was Monday, so as soon as her lawyer gave the ok, Jackie jumped on a plane. She met the birth mom for lunch and then went for Tiffany’s check-up at a small regional hospital. The doctor came in, did his exam and exclaimed, “There’s the baby’s head! We’re having a baby!” Jackie called her mom and told her to take the next plane to Indiana. Three hours later Julia was born. Jackie helped deliver Julia and cut the umbilical cord.
“ I didn’t name Julia for 48 hours until I finally had the release papers from the birth mom. Those 48 hours were the longest ever. I was terrified of losing my baby girl who I had just met and fallen in love with. In a strange way, I was trying to protect myself. Finally I picked my grandma’s name Julia, and my Julia came to life.”
A MOMtrepreneur, Jackie refers to herself as Jewban, belonging to a small community of Cuban Jews. Both of her parents were born in Havana, Cuba and came to America shortly after Castro came into power. She relates strongly to both parts of her heritage, and is raising Julia to be bilingual. Growing up, Miami was a second home to her and her brother. They ran around around the beaches before the Delano, was the Delano it is today, eating Cuban sandwiches for lunch while her grandparents worked selling “Shmattes” across the street on Collins Ave.
Despite her timid, quiet nature, Jackie had a lot of friends in high school. She met her first boyfriend in college, where she found a group of friends who were very outgoing, giving her a greater sense of confidence, especially her best friend Lisa Cear, whose wild, infectious energy led Jackie to become more open and social.
When she finished college, she became an aggressive trader on Wall Street, and after that experience decided to travel the world. An avid hiker, she’s climbed Kilimanjaro and Patagonia. During one of her free spirit tours, she bought a pink dish in a market in Morocco, and every night she fills it with the baubles she wore that day. The pink dish now holds pieces of her past and her future. For Jackie, jewelry connects emotion to experiences, as each piece represents a memory, a person, a sensation. Her pink dish holds among other pieces, a rose gold JULIA pin with an AZABACHE (black onyx), which is a very Latin/Cuban custom. She received one when she was born, the black onyx is called an AZABACHE and is given to newborns to protect against the “mal de ojo” or evil eye.
Her family business is jewelry, and when Julia was born, she was inspired to create something special to celebrate their journey. She made herself a little diamond band with Julia’s birthstone on it, and inscribed Julia’s name and birthdate on the inside of it. While selling the traditional jewelry that was her business, her customers often complimented her on the ring, inquiring about its significance. She would share her journey with her customers, and in turn, women would often tell her their most personal life stories and experiences. Jackie found that when you are open and authentic, others respond by being authentic and honest. What started as one ring is now a collection, aptly called MY STORY JEWELRY, and will be featured in Barneys NY this Fall…something Jackie never even dreamed could be possible!
Jackie is paying it forward by serving on the board of the association Help Us Adopt. The average household income in America is $54k, the average adoption cost is from $40K – $60K. This financial burden is the most significant obstacle between a child living a life in foster care or orphanage vs the safe, encouraging and loving life that can come from a stable home. What happens if you don’t have the money to adopt? Families often find themselves in financial ruin trying to conceive and then adopt. Others remain childless. After adopting Julia, Jackie set out to make a difference and a portion of her My Story jewelry sales go to www.helpusadopt.org, an association that provides $300,000 in grants annually to families trying to adopt. Help us adopt awards grants to both couples and individuals regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity marital status or equal orientation.
“Julia has been known to eat ice cream, with sprinkles for breakfast, just because Mama has the day off and we have nowhere to be and no one to tell us we can’t. I am truly the luckiest Mama alive.”
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