When Sara Cozard from Washington first set eyes on a young man who she fostered, she knew he would one day become her son. Now all she could wait for was the official adoption day.
Sara met her husband, Stuart Shank, when she was only 19 years old. The couple always wanted to share their home with others and they had a lot of love to give to some children. Just weeks after the couple returned from their honeymoon, they began the process to become foster parents.
Sara always said she would prefer to foster younger children such as toddlers and babies. Because Sara was young, she felt that she hadn’t gained the life experience to parent older kids yet.
I was only 23 at the time, and the idea of fostering older kids and teens seemed unfathomable.
As soon as the couple were licensed as foster parents, the couple asked to take a 3-year-old for a weekend.
That weekend turned into a week. And that week into months. And those months into years. That little boy is our son, Michael.
Little Michael had been living with Stuart and Sara for several months when they agreed to a supervised visit with his older brother, Dayshawn. For Sara, watching the two brothers reunite filled her heart with a maternal instinct that wanted the kids to be together.
The second Michael caught a glimpse of his brother from across the playground, he ran with all his might and jumped into his arms. 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.
As Dayshawn was older by some years, they were hesitant, but they thought they’d give it a whirl after speaking with him.
There’s only a 13-year age difference between me and Dayshwan. But the second I started talking to him, all my fears went out the window… 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.
After a few years, it had become clear that Sara and Stuart were more than just foster parents
The four had become an extremely tight-knit family and they couldn’t imagine their lives apart. So the couple decided to begin the process of adopting the two brothers. As you can imagine, the kids were thrilled.
If someone told me 5 years ago I would be 26 and adopting a teenager, I would have thought they were crazy. Now I can’t imagine it any other way. I’m sharing this in hopes that anyone who is considering fostering doesn’t rule out older kids & teens. It’s not always easy, but it is so, so worth it.
Following Michael and Dayshawn’s adoption day, Sara now works to encourage other people to become foster parents
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.
The video below which was created by Caleb O’Halloran, the owner of NW Creatives, truly shows the magic of the day. Honestly, it will bring a tear to your eye.
We commend the actions of Sara and Stuart, they’re incredible human beings with the biggest hearts. Congratulations on your official family and a lifetime of togetherness with your two kids!
Don’t forget to watch this adorable adoption day montage in the video below. Also, at Happiest we love hearing all of your opinions. So please let us know what you thought of the article in the comment section. 🐝