When Washington woman Sara went on her first date with her husband Stuart she was just 19 years old but, even at such young age, when he asked her what her hopes and dreams were, she didn’t hesitate with her answer.
Sara told him she wanted to be a foster parent and help the kids in her community that were most in need.
Stuart was in no way put off by Sara’s ambition and the two married a few years later. The couple now have two adopted boys and are fostering a teen. Sara tells the story of their journey in her own words, and it’s not without hurdles, but her story will bring you to tears.
In a beautifully written post on the Love What Matters page, Sara talked about what happened two weeks after she and Stuart got back from their honeymoon. She wrote:
“We decided that we were going to start our foster parent training. We were in agreement that we would just do short-term emergency care/respite to start. We were planning on fostering babies and toddlers. I was only 23 at the time, and the idea of fostering older kids and teens seemed unfathomable.
“Once we got licensed, we were immediately called asking if we could take in a baby for a week. It went great and we loved it. Then right after that, we were called asking if we could take in a sweet 3-year-old for a weekend. We said yes. That weekend turned into a week. And that week into months. And those months into years. That little boy is our son, Michael.”
Michael was so happy with Sara and Stuart Cozad but he missed his big brother Dayshawn and wanted the couple to arrange a meeting.
“A few months after Michael came to us, we agreed to supervise a sibling visit. That’s where we met Dayshawn for the first time. The second Michael caught a glimpse of his brother from across the playground, he ran with all his might and jumped into his arms,” explained Sara.
“It was that second that Stuart and I looked at each other and we truly understood the importance of Dayshawn and Michael needing to be together. We were still a little hesitant about taking in an older child. There’s only a 13-year age difference between me and Dayshawn. But the second I started talking to him, all my fears went out the window…”
Sara and Stuart were blown away by Dayshawn. They’d had reservations about fostering teens but Sara said that she couldn’t have been more wrong about teenagers in the foster care system.
“Dayshawn breaks every single stereotype about teens in foster care. He is the most empathetic and compassionate person I’ve ever met. He is a social butterfly and makes it his personal mission to welcome every new child who comes to us. He works so hard in school and is SO funny. He wants to be either a basketball player, a doctor, or a social worker when he grows up.
“Being his mom feels so natural. He doesn’t even seem to notice that I’m so young (or he just doesn’t care.) To him I’m just his mom…”
The couple were in no doubt that they wanted to adopt Dayshawn too and decided to make it official. It was a long case with switches between adoption and reunification which went on for years. But, when Adoption Day finally arrived the couple surprised the two boys with a limo ride and then donuts after.
“[Dayshawn] was so excited on our adoption day. My favorite part is when he felt compelled to interrupt the judge to explain exactly why he wanted to be adopted (so many tears!).
“We became foster parents because we wanted to help families in our community. Adoption wasn’t our primary goal, although we were open to it if it became available. We advocate for reunification whenever it’s possible
“We’ve fostered 14 children, some long-term and some emergency placements. People always say, ‘Oh, I could never be a foster parent. I would get too attached and it would hurt when they go home.’ And that’s true. It is hard. And I cry every single time a child leaves. But reunification can be a beautiful thing. We’re so lucky to have close relationships with many of the parents of our foster children. Our relationship with these children doesn’t have to end just because they return home.”
Even with Dayshawn and Michael in their home, Sara and Stuart are still continuing with their plan to foster and are currently fostering a teenager.
“At our adoption party, I was asked several times if we would continue to foster now that our boys are adopted. Stuart and I have decided that if we continue to foster, we’re going to become a specialized home for either teen moms, sex-trafficked teens and/or LGBTQ+ youth. 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 or shelters for WEEKS (or even months) on end since so few homes are open to them. We just welcomed a new 14-year-old two weeks ago, and it’s been so fun getting to know him.
“Fostering is in no way easy, but I can guarantee it will be the most worthwhile thing you will ever do.”
“There’s that quote, ‘It’s better to have loved and to lost than never to have loved at all’ (Alfred Tennyson), which resonates deep in my heart. I have had the privilege of falling in love over, and over, and over again (14 times, to be exact!)”
What an amazing couple and despite their young years have already made a huge difference in so many children’s lives.
Please share their story as a tribute to these two angels and may their wonderful work continue!