LINDALE — Within his nearly two years of life, Coby Cochran has been both an answer to his parents’ prayers and an example of God’s faithfulness, and he’s moved into the hearts of the East Texas community.

Coby is growing up in Lindale, where his dad, Chris Cochran, is head football coach at Lindale High School, and his goofball personality has brought joy, light and unity to the entire area.

His mom, Lindsay, who is celebrating her second Mother’s Day today, said Coby is easy to love, and he’s helped her become a better person.

“He is easy to love. I’m sure all parents say that,” she said. “Especially with him being Black and us being white, he has been I feel like such a light in our town and such a joy. He brings everybody together.”

Chris and Lindsay Cochran, who are both Hallsville High School alumni, always knew they wanted to adopt. On June 24, 2019, their family of two became three through the birth and adoption of Coby.

“We thought we would get pregnant, have a couple babies and then have some kids and it would just be this happily ever after, but it wasn’t,” she said. “It just looked different, but different isn’t bad, and so we started looking into adoption.”

The Cochrans visited with the nonprofit ministry Christian Homes and Family Services, where they met with birth mothers and families who adopted children in the past, and they fell in love with the idea of open adoption.

That means the adoptive family and birth families can be in contact and share personal information to whatever degree the families choose.

For the Cochrans, their path was a private infant adoption, in which they filled out paperwork to be placed on a list for birth mothers seeking adoptive parents.

Coby’s birth mother, Tay, chose Chris and Lindsay to be Coby’s parents on April 1, 2019. Since then, Lindsay said she talks to Tay, who lives in Abilene, about twice a week and gives her all the pictures of Coby she wants.

“Really and truly, it’s a friendship,” Lindsay said. “She is thrilled that I am Coby’s mom and Chris is Coby’s dad. In the hospital room, she held him and said, ‘He’s not mine, he’s yours.’ ”

The next weekend after they learned Tay chose them, Chris said they drove to Abilene and met at the Christian Homes office.

When it was time for Coby’s birth, they drove Tay to the hospital, and both Chris and Lindsay were there when he was born. They also stayed the night while Tay was in the hospital.

“A lot of times people think we got him when he was 2 months old, and that is not true; it’s from the very beginning,” he said. “From the first seconds of his life, we were right there holding him, and he’s been ours.”

Chris added that while he was nervous about open adoption, he’s learned from experience that this path created a healthy relationship for Coby along with he, his wife and the birth mom.

“I don’t know if it’s like that for everyone, but I do think it’s a very good thing to do,” he said.

The special and unique relationship Coby, Lindsay and Chris Cochran have with Tay is something Lindsay said she wouldn’t trade for anything.

“All adoption stories are different, which makes them unique and beautiful. Ours I feel like was very unique because of the relationship,” she said. “We took her to doctor’s appointments. We really built a relationship, and even after he was born, Tay, Coby, Chris and I all slept in the same hospital room for two nights.”

‘Love differently’Chris and Lindsay noted their son being Black and having white parents does and will present challenges, but Coby’s adoption also opened their minds to issues of race.

“I love differently because of Coby. That’s something that I’ve learned, and I just want it to make me a better person in general. People really only care about what affects them, and before Coby, nothing racially affected me,” she said. “None of this affected me, so I went about my life, but now that he’s my child, I love completely differently because this affects me and I would die for him.”

Lindsay explained it was not an accident that God gave her and Chris a Black child in 2019. She said Coby added purpose for her heart along with their family and friends’ hearts and the heart of their community.

“People are scared of what they don’t know. They’re intimidated by what isn’t familiar, and I just feel like as a society and as a world, we’ve got to get better at that,” she said. “This little boy has helped us do that tremendously, and I just want to learn, listen and grow every day because of him.”

Lindsay said that inside their home, she is Coby’s mommy and Chris is his daddy, and that’s all he’s ever known. As they go outside of the home, she knows that as a family they often get noticed for looking “different.”

“He obviously is not our biological child. So I could see that eventually being hard, and I’ve thought through this,” she said. “If I ever get comments, I’m going to rip them and I’m going to be rude and ugly, but the more I thought about it, ultimately I want our family to be light and love. So being rude back to anything like that would do nothing but creative further division. We are 100% about unity.”

While there will be challenges, Chris said he and Lindsay know that God called them toward adoption and to Coby.

“His plan for Coby and for us as a family is perfect and we trust that plan,” he said. “I think the biggest challenge right now is just the race issue, and that’s going to be something moving forward that’s going to be difficult. And I’m talking about much more than where to get his haircut. I’m talking about the stuff that African-American families have to deal with, and we’re having to deal with that as his parents who are white.”

Chris said he’s proud of Coby because he’s allowed their family to be an example in Lindale, and he’s changed their perspective on racial issues.

“He has been a light. His personality — he is full of life as most 2-year-olds are. He loves to run around, he loves to throw the ball,” Chris said. “He loves to watch our high school football players. I think that’s one of his favorite things just coming up and watching them playing football, basketball. He really enjoys being around the school, the field and the court. As a coach, it’s fun for me to watch him enjoy that.”

A football familyThe Lindale football team, which made its first trip to a state championship in 2020, believes in family, and the football players have become Coby’s older brothers, Chris said.

“Anytime he’s around, they’re drawn to him, and he’s looking at them like they own the moon,” he said. “They come over and give me a fist bump and give him a high-five. That just means the world to him. It’s a pretty cool situation that he has those guys to look at and model himself after.”

Coby has a dream childhood as a coach’s kid, Lindsay said, adding he mimics every move the football players make.

“I don’t know all the moves, but Coby does,” she said. “Like growing up a coach’s kid, we come up to the school every single day. He gets to be around big boys and just mimic and model after them, and I think he’s going to have the most fun life being a coach’s kid.”

Lindsay explained when life gets stressful, the student-athletes helped she and her husband recall their purpose.

“We are in it for these kids; we need to show up every day for them,” she said.

And as the sports seasons change, Coby follows along excitedly, whether it’s football, baseball, track or other sports.

“Right now, he’s all about a bat and a ball. When we were going to track meets, he called it a track meek with a ‘k,’” she said. “In basketball season, he was obsessed with the basketball. So it’s been really cute to see him change from sport to sport to sport. In Sunday school, he got upset and they know to bring him a ball when he’s upset.”

Mother’s Day and future plansLindsay recalled her first Mother’s Day last year, which fell on May 10, as especially memorable. The couple celebrated their six-year anniversary and Coby becoming a part of their family.

“It was one of the most special days of my life, just getting to celebrate his birth and our marriage and our family and really God’s faithfulness and his answer to prayer,” she said.

Chris called Lindsay the “best mom on the face of the Earth,” and he wants to do everything to make her feel that way on Mother’s Day.

“Me being a coach, I’m not around as much. I want to be, and they come up and see me and all that kind of stuff, but she does such a good job with him. She teaches him scripture, and she does a really good job,” he said. “We feel like he’s advanced as all parents do. I do think with him learning has to do with his mother. She does an incredible job, and I’m saying all that to say I want her to feel really special. I’ll do everything I can to make her feel that way on Mother’s Day.”

For anyone interested in adoption, Chris said there’s a reason why a person is considering it. He said he was pulled to adoption even before he and Lindsay were together.

“There’s so many different ways that we can help and minister to kids, and not just kids but the families. That’s one thing I learned through the process before Coby was born,” he said. “There was something about adoption that I knew that I was pulled to, and I didn’t really understand that. Well, now I do. I knew that God had it on my heart for a reason, but I would say if you’re thinking about it, there’s a reason you’re thinking about it.”

He added that the ministry side is what drew them to adoption the most.

“Oh my goodness, the way that Coby ministers to me as his dad and Lindsay as his mom, we’ve learned so much from even as a 2-year-old,” he said. “Just being open would be my biggest challenge and words of advice to be open to it and ask questions and pursue it because there’s a reason that it’s on your mind.”

The Cochrans are in the process of becoming involved with foster-to-adopt. This means children stay in their home similar to foster care, and if the kids are available for adoption, the Cochrans would be willing to open their home permanently.

Lindsay said they’re completing the foster-to-adopt paperwork and will attend training Tuesday.

“We’re just trusting that God’s placing the kids that need to be in our home, and the ones that stay for awhile just stay for a little while,” she said. “We are ready to give Coby some siblings and just minister to children in the process.”

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