He sat anxiously at the edge of his seat, his palms sweaty. The judge was about to give her verdict, but he knew he had to speak up. He stood from his chair and glanced around the room, "Excuse me, your honor, if I may, I have something to say."
The room fell silent, their family and friends tensing up as they stared at him with wide, unknowing eyes. He was emotional when he began speaking, "I have to tell you the truth about my mom."
Sara And Stuart
Sara Cozad knew from a young age that she wanted to be a foster mom and adopt many children. When she met Stuart for the first time, she made her intentions clear when it came to this dream.
He was the love of her life and fortunately, he loved the idea. As soon as they were married, they put this dream into action.
Following Her Dreams
They were a young couple and decided that they were most comfortable when it came to fostering babies and toddlers. They would usually only stay with the couple for a few days at a time, which Sara was most comfortable with.
She didn't feel like she was skilled enough to look after older children. She didn't know it yet, but her next fostering assignment was about to change everything.
He Never Left
They were happy when they were asked to take care of a 3-year-old boy for a weekend. His name was Michael and he was a joy to be around. But soon, one weekend turned into a week and one week turned into a few months, then those months turned into years.
But Michael stole Sara and Stuart's hearts from the moment they first saw him. They were happy to have him around. But soon enough, trouble would show up at their door.
Dayshawn was Michael's 10-year-old brother. When Michael saw his older brother for the first time in years, he was overwhelmed with emotion. They embraced each other for what felt like a lifetime.
Sara watched the two boys as they held one another. She knew she had to do something about it. But what she was about to do was going to throw her plans off course.
Taking Him In
Sara was ten years older than Dayshawn. She never thought she would consider fostering an older child. It was outside of her comfort zone. But she couldn't let the two of them grow up without each other.
After speaking to Stuart about the situation, they gave it careful consideration and decided that it was best to take Dayshawn in too. But things would only get worse.
Sara's family and friends were always available to support her. She could do no wrong in their eyes. But Dayshawn's arrival made them all feel uneasy.
They were growing close and some friends and family suspected that Dayshawn had developed feelings for Sara. Feelings that went far beyond mother and son.
Dayshawn had been without a loving family for years and it took its toll on him. He jumped at the opportunity to be part of Sara and Stuart's family.
Dayshawn appreciated what Sara and Stuart had done for him, and he always did his best to show them. His commitment to that is what caused everyone's confusion. But the possibility of losing his new family was lurking.
Sara and Stuart were aware of this threat, which was why they began the adoption process. It felt like the process took years, but they were finally about to hear the judge's final verdict.
But before she could, Dayshawn surprised everyone by standing up. "Excuse me, your honor, if I may, I have something to say." He spoke with a shaky voice, causing everyone in attendance to tense up.
Dayshawn was 13 years old, it concerned everyone that he was in the middle of puberty.
Sometimes, his behavior was unpredictable. They were scared of the problems he could cause at that very moment. But what he said erased all 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.
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 a 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.
Where They Belonged
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, he now 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 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, 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 supported 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?
Watching The Fight
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.
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?
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 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 system’s lives. They are absolutely committed to the cause, even though it’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.