By Ashleigh / Jan 25, 2023
Speaking His Truth
The boy stood up to voice his concerns just as the judge delivered her verdict.
He exclaimed, “Excuse me, your honor. May I please say something?”
A silence fell over the room. Their close friends and family grew stiff with tension.
The boy was overcome with emotions as he said, “I have to share the truth about my mother.”
Sara Cozad always wanted to be a foster mom and adopt children.
And when she met the love of her life, Stuart Shank, she made sure to tell him on the first date as this was very important to her.
Fortunately, Stuart loved the idea.
When they got married, that’s what they did.
As a young couple, Sara and Stuart only fostered babies and toddlers.
And they would often stay with them for a couple of days. Sara preferred this.
She felt she didn’t have the necessary skill set to look after older kids.
But her next fostering assignment would turn her world upside down.
One Weekend Feels Like A Lifetime
One day in their usual fostering journey, they were assigned to care for a 3-year-old boy named Michael for a weekend.
Two days turned into a week, a week into months, and months into years.
And Michael completely stole Sara and Stuart’s hearts.
However, trouble would soon knock at the door.
Michael had a 10-year-old older brother, Dayshawn.
And when they laid eyes on each other, there was such an eruption of intense emotion that they hugged for several minutes before letting go.
Sara, watching this unfold and knew she had to do something.
But whatever she could do was going to interrupt her plans.
Sara was 23 at the time and 13 years older than Dayshawn.
She never considered fostering older children. But letting the brothers grow up separately wasn’t an option.
After careful consideration, she decided to take Dayshawn in and care for him and his little brother.
Things would only get worse from there.
Up until this point, Sara had always had her family and friends’ support.
However, the arrival of Dayshawn made everyone feel uneasy.
Dayshawn was becoming close with Sara.
And people started to wonder if Dayshawn was developing feelings towards her that went beyond mother and sonâ€¦
Going for years without a loving family had taken a toll on Dayshawn.
And when the opportunity of a loving family presented itself, he took it with both hands.
Dayshawn made sure Sara and Stuart knew he appreciated them. That was the source of all of the confusion.
However, the possibility of being broken up was lurking.
Recognizing this threat, Sara and Stuart began the adoption process.
It felt like years.
At last, they were at the final hearing, where the judge would give her verdict.
Before she could give her verdict, Dayshawn stood up and, with a shaky voice, said, “Excuse me, your honor, if I may, I have something to say.”
Sara was only 26, and Dayshawn was 13.
A considerable concern echoed through friends and family as Dayshawn was right in the middle of puberty.
His behavior could be unpredictable. And this could be problematic for everyone involved.
But what Dayshawn had to say erased all the concerns.
And the room went silent. Sara and Stuart tensed up.
“Your honor, I have a confession to make,” Dayshawn continued.
“My mom Sara and I have a strong bond. She and dad love Michael and me so much.
And we are proud to be their sons,” said Dayshawn with teary eyes.
Judge Moved With Emotions
The judge was moved by the love displayed in front of her.
She felt it would be appropriate to grant the adoption request.
There was an emotional uproar after hearing the judgment.
Everyone in the courtroom was moved by what had happened.
Dayshawnâ€™s heartfelt words had convinced the judge that he and his brother belonged with Sara and Stuart – it was their forever home.
The judge wiped a tear from her eyes and gave her a seal of approval.
But Dayshawn still wasnâ€™t quite done with his speech.
He knocked the table until he had everyoneâ€™s attention once more.
“Yeah, they all love us,” Dayshawn said.
“We love them. Our whole family is the best thing we ever had,” the boy confessed.
“I’m glad to have these people in my life. I’m glad to be their son.”
Although Sara was already extremely emotional, she broke down completely when she heard Dayshawnâ€™s words.
Where They Belonged
Dayshawnâ€™s speech elicited another round of quiet sniffles in the courtroom when he was done.
It was an emotional moment – everyone could feel that the boy knew that he and his brother were finally right where they belonged.
While Stuart tried his best to retain his composure, Sara sat beside him and couldnâ€™t contain her tears.
But Dayshawn still wasn’t done.
Although the whole courtroom was in tears, Dayshawn continued his speech.
Instead of addressing the judge, he now addressed his adoptive parents – who couldnâ€™t be happier that they were finally the legal guardians of the two boys.
Finally, the waiting and worrying about the brothers getting lost in the foster system had disappeared.
The relief the family felt was palpable.
As he spoke, it was clear that Dayshawn was incredibly relieved too.
He turned to Stuart and Sara, who were still in tears and really drove his point home.
“If I could wish for anything in the world, I would wish I could just love these people for the rest of my life,” he said.
Remembering That Day
Sara, who was an emotional wreck at the time, later described exactly what she was feeling and what was going through her mind on that day in August 2018.
She confessed that it was the most important day of her life and her emotions felt like a rollercoaster.
However, she also had some mixed feelings.
While Sara was ecstatic that she and her husband were the legal guardians of the two brothers, Dayshawnâ€™s heartbreaking speech also elicited sadness.
Sara was incredibly sad that the boys hadnâ€™t been given the love they deserved right from the beginning.
â€œNo child should feel grateful to have a family love them,” she said on Good Morning America.
“It should be a given.”
Back on that fateful day in the courtroom, the emotions on Saraâ€™s face were reflected by her and Stuartâ€™s loyal supporters, who witnessed the dayâ€™s events.
They had supported the couple right from the beginning, so it was fitting that they were also there to witness Dayshawnâ€™s speech and the judgeâ€™s ruling.
Needless to say, there wasnâ€™t a dry eye in the house.
And who could blame them?
Watching The Fight
Sara and Stuartâ€™s staunch supporters had been there to support the couple right from the beginning.
They had continued to support them in their battle for legal guardianship of the boys for more than three years.
They watched as they overcame each obstacle, became attached, and finally, were officially recognized as a family.
But their story wasnâ€™t over yet.
Now that the judge had made her ruling, Stuart, Sara, Michael, and Dayshawn were legally a family in the eyes of the law.
However, amid all the celebrations, Sara and Stuart felt that there was one more detail they needed to square away to make it all official.
There was just one thing left to do.
Changing Their Names
The newly-recognized family decided to take the final step to all share a last name.
It was an important and symbolic action that cemented the parents and their sons.
So, just like that, Dayshawn and Michael changed their last name to Conzad.
It was the last step in the long journey that made the family whole.
As they walked out of the courtroom, a luxury limousine was waiting to take the brothers home.
They were officially Sara and Stuart’s sons and had to be welcomed home in style.
Dayshawn couldn’t be thankful enough. He gave another monologue in the car about how happy and grateful he was as they rode around the city.
But their supporters had a question for Stuart and Sara.
Room For One More?
The long adoption process was finallt over.
However, Sara and Stuartâ€™s friends and family couldnâ€™t help but wonder if the couple intended to open up their hearts and home for more foster children.
They had to think about it first.
They had to weigh all the pros and cons before they made a decision.
“At our adoption party, I was asked several times if we would continue to foster now that our boys are adopted,” Sara explained their decision in one of her personal blog entries.
“Stuart and I have decided that if we continue to foster, we will become a specialized home. “
But what would that mean?
Saraâ€™s blog was featured in LoveWhatMatters. She explained that she and Stuart hoped to become a specialized foster home.
They had decided to focus their efforts on welcoming LGBTQ+ teens and teen moms into the foster system into their homes.
In the post, however, Sara explained her reasoning even further.
They decided to specialize because of the foster system.
“Not because we can necessarily parent these kids better than anyone else, but because it’s heartbreaking that these demographics of teens sit in social workers’ offices for WEEKS (or even months) on end since so few homes are open to them,” she wrote.
And Sara and Stuart Cozad have already made a difference in children entering the foster systemâ€™s lives.
They are absolutely committed to the cause, even though itâ€™s not always easy.
Journey Doesn’t Stop
Sara, Stuart, and their two sons were ecstatic about finally being a family. But Sara was not done.
She continued fostering more children that needed a loving family to care for them.
Over time, Sara and her husband realized fostering teenagers is a little more rewarding as they can talk through traumas with the teens.
Sara discovered fostering teens is not as dangerous as people make it out to be.
Most teens aren’t ‘dangerous’ or ‘trouble,’ claims Sara. And Sara has set out to bring awareness to this with her blog.
And she has begun putting together material to help simplify adoption processes in all states.
In Minesota, a mom went above and beyond when she lay her eyes on her adoptive son. Even she didnâ€™t know she would be capable of such an extent.
A Ray Of Sunshine
Lisa and her husband Mike had been fostering kids for years before they crossed paths with Daniel.
The three-year-old stole their hearts from the get-go, and the fostering duo knew they had to take him in.
But they realized something was amiss as they started spending time with him.
Daniel had a few issues that the parent hadnâ€™t known about. But that wasnâ€™t the worse of it.
Lisa had been caring for Daniel on their first week together, washing and preparing him for bed, when she noticed a few scars on his chest.
She immediately called Mike, asking if heâ€™d seen the markings before.
The boy before them, a ray of sunshine, smiled gleefully and tapped against the tubâ€™s water.
But his parents were beside themselves with worry.
When Lisa and Mike had first seen Daniel, heâ€™d been gaunt and pale.
The caregiver had assured them that he was doing better. She explained that he had a few health conditions heâ€™d been battling since birth.
She also said that he had been improving over the last few months.
What she didnâ€™t disclose in detail were the numerous medical conditions that the little angel was up against.
See, Daniel was born with a non-functioning bladder, two collapsed lungs, a non-working right kidney, and a failing left one.
So far, heâ€™d been through 30 surgeries, each painful in its own way, trying to get better.
The alarmed parents called the orphanage to receive the full story about their son and were heartbroken when they learned the truth.
But the difficult times were only beginning.
The Full Scope
Lisa and Mike went to the doctors to get the full scope of Danielâ€™s condition.
They learned that although his lungs and bladder were stabilizing, they still had to worry about his remaining kidney.
They also learned that his biological parents gave him up for adoption because the list of medical procedures he needed was beyond them financially.
But that isnâ€™t the saddest part.
When they gave Daniel up for adoption, no one would take him in because of the same reasons his parents had given him up.
Lisa broke down as she learned all these new facts. She couldnâ€™t believe that people could be this cruel.
She couldnâ€™t begin to understand that throughout the painful procedures that took over the boyâ€™s first two years, he was all alone.
She had to step in.
Taking Care Of Him
The dotting mom made it her lifeâ€™s mission to care for Daniel.
She understood that he didnâ€™t have much time left because of his failing kidney.
As such, she funneled all her attention to securing him on a favorable transplant waiting list.
She wouldnâ€™t spare any expense when it came to her brave little boy.
The Waiting Lists
But although her intentions were noble, the universe turned a deaf ear to her pleas.
Each waiting list she sought out was crammed with people who needed help just as much as her family did.
To make matters worse, Danielâ€™s condition had confined him to the hospital, where he rarely left his bed anymore.
But the mom couldnâ€™t watch him fade away like this.
Is It Too Late?
The boyâ€™s condition was deteriorating.
Lisa went into overdrive, wading through his 5000+ medical records to see if there was something in there that she could use.
It was then that she had a dream about donating her own kidney to save his life.
Sheâ€™d been pouring through those records all day and had slept over them, not knowing what fate had under her sleeves.
Finally, An Answer
Lisa woke up with a eureka moment. She ran to Danielâ€™s doctors, asking if she could donate her kidney to stabilize his condition.
But the doctors werenâ€™t as enthusiastic as she was.
They presented a few setbacks to her proposal, the biggest of them being that the chances of her and Daniel being a match was microscopic.
Lisaâ€™s answer would leave them speechless.
Never Tell Me The Odds
â€œIâ€™ll take it,â€ Lisa said. A 0.001 chance was better than nothing. But the doctors presented the second biggest setback.
Daniel needed a kidney from someone under the age of thirty.
If Lisaâ€™s chances were 0.001 before, theyâ€™d just broken in half.
But the doctors didnâ€™t know that when Lisa set her mind to something, she always found a way through.
Giving It Her All
â€œItâ€™s better than nothing,â€ she said and asked to be tested. Sheâ€™d started this journey with Daniel, only looking to give him a home.
She had never imagined that sheâ€™d be giving her kidney as well.
To her, this was the best gift she could give him. He had given her so much joy and purpose in life.
If this was what the universe wanted in return, she would pay it a hundred times over.
The Love Of A Mother
The doctors were speechless at Lisaâ€™s zeal. They were even more dumbfounded when she matched with Daniel!
Even Lisa herself couldnâ€™t believe that she had been carrying a kidney that suited her little angel all this time.
She couldnâ€™t push for the kidney transplant procedure fast enough.
Within the next two months, her husband was driving her and their recovering son back home. But this isnâ€™t the only incredible story of this kind.
Welcome To Arizona
In Arizona, a loving foster mom decided to adopt a boy that no other parent wanted.
She had fought tooth and nail to have him under her wing and, after a while, got her wish.
But twenty-seven years later, she woke up in the hospital. One thing was clear.
Her adopted son had done the very thing she told him not to do.
The Love Of A Son
The mom in question had been diagnosed with kidney failure and, like Daniel, needed a transplant as fast as possible.
Her son, now a grown man, insisted on giving her one of his, but the mom refused.
But the son went behind her back and tested positive for a transplant.
He gave her his kidney, saying that he would fight to keep her by his side just as she fought to have him stay with her.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.