The boy decided to speak up as the judge was about to give her final verdict. The entire room went silent when the boy stood up and said, “Excuse me, your honor, if I may, I have something to say.”
Every single person in the room started to tense up, the boy was filled with emotion as he continued, “I have to tell you the truth about my mom.”
Since she was young, Sara Cozad dreamed of someday being a foster mom and adopting lots and lots of children. On her first date with Stuart Shank, she made it very clear that this was something that was very important to her. Little did she know back then that he would be the love of her life.
Stuart loved the idea and when they got married, they worked hard to fulfil her life-long dream.
They were a young couple and decided it was best to foster babies and toddlers. They would usually stay with them for a few days, Sara liked it this way.
She didn’t feel like she was experienced and skilled enough to look after the older children. She never could have guessed that her next fostering experience would turn her entire world upside down.
They were comfortable enough when they were assigned to take care of a 3-year-old boy for one weekend. His name was Michael and he was the sweetest boy. That one weekend turned into a week, then months and then years.
In that time, he stole Sara and Stuart’s hearts. But the perfect situation would soon take a troubling turn when they heard a knock on their front door.
Michael wasn’t an only child, he had a 10-year-old brother named Dayshawn. When Michael and Dayshawn saw each other, they were both filled with emotions as they embraced one another for several minutes.
When Sara saw this exchange, she knew that she had to do something about it. But whatever she was planning on doing was going to interrupt her plans.
Sara was 23-years-old, only 10 years older than Dayshawn. She never thought about fostering an older child because she felt that she’d do a bad job, but she couldn’t let the two of them grow up separately.
She thought about it a lot before deciding that she would take Dayshawn in too. She wanted to care for him and his younger brother. But things were about to get worse.
Sara was lucky enough to have supportive friends and family, they never questioned anything she did. But when she took Dayshawn in, they all started to feel uneasy about the situation.
Sara and Dayshawn were becoming close. Everyone was wondering if Dayshawn had developed romantic feelings towards her.
Dayshawn struggled without a loving family for years, so when he was finally offered a family, he felt that he needed to take the opportunity with open arms.
He did everything in his power to show Sara and Stuart how much he appreciated them, that was what confused everyone. But the possibility of being broken up was lurking in the shadows.
Sara and Stuart wanted to avoid this threat, so they decided to start the adoption process. It took long, it felt like it had taken them years, but now, they were finally about to hear the judge’s final verdict.
But before she could give her verdict, Dayshawn got up from his seat and spoke in a shaky voice, “Excuse me, your honor, if I may, I have something to say.”
Dayshawn was 13 years old, and Sara’s family and friends were concerned that he was in the middle of puberty.
His behavior was unpredictable. This was a concern for everyone involved. But what he said showed everyone that they had nothing to be concerned about.
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.
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.
Dayshawn’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 seal of approval. But Dayshawn still wasn’t quite done with his speech. He knocked the table until he had everyone’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 Dayshawn’s words.
Dayshawn’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 couldn’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, now he addressed his adoptive parents – who couldn’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 was 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.
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, Dayshawn’s heartbreaking speech also elicited sadness.
Sara was incredibly sad that the boys hadn’t been given the love they deserved right from the beginning. “No 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 Sara’s face were reflected by her and Stuart’s loyal supporters, who witnessed the day’s events.
They had been supporting the couple right from the beginning, so it was fitting that they were also there to witness Dayshawn’s speech and the judge’s ruling. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. And who could blame them?
Sara and Stuart’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 wasn’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.
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, as they rode around the city, about how happy and grateful he was. But their supporters had a question for Stuart and Sara.
Now that the long adoption process was finally over, Sara and Stuart’s friends and family couldn’t help but wonder if the couple intended to open up their hearts and home for more foster children.
Now that they had the time to think about it, 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’re going to become a specialized home. ” But what would that mean?
Sara’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 in the foster system into their home.
In the post, however, Sara explained her reasoning even further. They decided to specialize
“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 to children entering the foster system’s lives. They are absolutely committed to the cause, even though it’s not always easy.
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.