Michelle and Chris started their adoption journey wanting a baby girl and completed it by adopting a five-year-old boy.
You've got a lot of new things to get used to. Some things you get used to more quickly than you would think and other things seemed to take longer. It's not like having a baby, because our son has already got a personality, he's already learnt a lot of behaviors and he can speak for himself.
We had to teach him things like boundaries, we had to tell him, you don't need to shout, we're just here, and we'll hear you. They wanted him to go to a couple with no children so he'd have one-to-one care and we noticed that his development came on leaps and bounds straight away.
But he's so secure now and he's more than happy to go on a sleepover on his own to his auntie's house. He loves family and all of us being together. We have our ups and downs like everybody else, but he's just great fun.
To begin with I wanted a baby girl - the younger, the better. But the whole process changes your attitude. You become more open to other possibilities.
The people who led the course were really good. They introduced us to a lady who had adopted a little girl at the age of eight. Her story opened our eyes a bit and we thought well, if they can manage with a girl who's eight and been through a lot of stuff, so can we.
The adopters and social workers we met shared stories with us that were really useful. But you get a lot of theory thrown at you, and you need to have your eyes and your mind open.
I think because of his age he was kind of running out of options, because people often want a younger child. I did, until I saw his picture, and I thought he's gorgeous! And you've got this little guy who needed a break and you've given him a break and he gives you so much back.
When we were first thinking about adopting we spoke to a colleague who had adopted two children, and I think she had a more negative experience than we did. For us, the information that we were given at the beginning of the process was quite clear about what was going to happen and when.
We went to an information evening where we watched a film to show the circumstances that some of the kids come from, and I think that was supposed to really upset you. The social worker said it might feel like they're trying to put you off and in a funny way they are, because they need to know you're up for this.
The preparation course that we did was really well put together. We were concerned on the first day but left feeling energised, motivated and fired up every day after that. It was a really good balance of telling us what we needed to know, introducing real people who had gone through it, giving us exercises to do, making us aware of the things we need to know. It didn't feel like a drag or anything.
On the day we were approved as adopters, we were given our son's profile.
Our employers were very supportive indeed. One of our bosses lives with a lady who has adopted so he was very supportive. Our son's social worker is fantastic, she’s really easy to talk to, she was there, she was on your side and I think that's what you need.
But we got some great advice from a friend within our support network one time who said, just remember, he's a child first and he's adopted second.
Just seeing the way he laughs or the way he smiles is so rewarding. This morning, at breakfast time, he was just sat there, and I can't remember what he was saying but he's got a beautiful smile and he had this massive great grin on his face and you think, it's great, this! But when it's just been me and him for the day, he likes nothing better than to go for a walk in the countryside and it’s lovely, just spending the day with him. It's the simple pleasures.
Watching him progress and grow is phenomenal, actually. We take him swimming quite a lot and he just loves it. He wouldn't go down the slide on his own at first but his confidence is building. He's just in now and he's off!
If you’re thinking about adoption, I’d say just do it. We never considered IVF. It could have been an option but we didn't feel it was right for us.
If you can talk to someone who's been through it and you can meet the kids, I think that's really important.
Don't be scared by it. We were talking to someone about it the other day, who was saying that they couldn't face the inquisition, but you need to get over it, don't you? What's more important - feeling uncomfortable for an afternoon or having a child for the rest of your life?