Mike and Lesley's story
Mike and Lesley decided to adopt in their early 40s when Lesley’s sons, from a previous marriage, had grown up and left home.
“We first met our daughters five years ago, when they were eight, seven and four years old. They are sisters who needed a home where they could grow up together.
“The journey to being approved as adopters and then finally being matched with the girls was long. There were many periods of waiting and uncertainty, so the day when we finally met was a huge event in all our lives. Mike and I were incredibly excited but also very nervous just in case, for some reason, the girls wouldn't like us. In fact they were just very happy to meet their new family.
Becoming a family
"The introduction process was gradual and it was a week or so until the girls spent their first night with us. Then, at last, they moved in and our lives changed forever.
"The bond with the girls wasn’t instant and we had to work at it. The girls really tested our boundaries, as a way of seeing if we would 'keep' them.
Dealing with the past
"Like a lot of adopted children, our daughters had a difficult start in life and there are still some uncertainties about their past. For example, we don't know the medical histories for them or their birth parents. It is also very sad that we don't have any baby photos of them which they can look at. We are very open with them about their adoption and always answer any questions they have.
Making it happen
"Our advice to any potential adopters is to be prepared for the very personal questions you and other members of your family will be asked during the approval process. You also need to be patient as things can move slowly. Finally, we recommend that you have a good network of family and friends you can turn to and employers who will be supportive and allow flexibility if you need it.
"We had moments when the adoption felt very surreal and overwhelming, mainly because we went from being a couple to suddenly being parents to three lively, noisy girls. But it has also been hugely rewarding. Our daughters are happy, settled and developing really well. We have been able to offer them a loving home and they have completed the large family we always wanted."