It's National Adoption Week and the theme this year is finding home for older children aged four and upwards. Older children may be in siblings groups, having additional needs or from minority groups and there is currently a shortage of adopters coming forward.
This image, taken by Mary McCartnery, is being projected onto various buildings around England this week to promote National Adoption Week.
It seems crazy to think of a four year old as an older child but that's the way it is in adoption. I didn't even realise that until after we were matched with Missy. Many adopters would like a baby or toddler, for lots of reasons - experience having a baby even if the mother didn't give birth, maternal instincts, not missing out of 'firsts'.
For us, although we were approved for a child aged 0-5, I think we always swayed towards an older child and as soon as we saw the photos of Missy, we knew she was the child for us. Government figures have shown that, sadly, older child can remain in care far longer than those under 4, a fact which makes me so sad when thinking about Missy in care.
Having not been removed from birth family until she was an older pre-schooler, she has vivid real life memories of the home she used to live in and what it was like at times. I'm not saying babies and young toddlers won't but their memories will be further in their subconscious. But in a way this has helped us when helping Missy with her anger and anxiety and understanding of why she was removed.
If you are thinking about adopting an older child and worried about missing out on firsts - don't worry! There are still loads of firsts, some for just the child, some for you as a whole family. We still had the first tooth to come out, first advent calendar and Christmas stocking at Christmas, first time on a plane, first time she said "I love you" to us, first time she swam 5m and many many more. Then there's a big one for all of us - first time she called someone Daddy. There are really so many firsts.
Whether I would have had post-adoption depression if we'd adopted a baby, who knows, but having an older child who soon went to school meant I soon had the invaluable me-time that I needed.
Missy came to us having already had five years to form her values and beliefs and it has certainly not been easy at times - regular readers of this blog will know that for sure! - but we've had some wonderful times so far, lots of laughter and smiles with many more to come.