“She isn’t in ‘survival mode’ anymore, trying to put on a false front to people. She knows she can just be herself.”

Louisa, aged 47, had always been impressed by the dedication and commitment of foster carers and adopters, but it was only after her own children left home that she gave the idea more thought.

She said: “I work in a school so I’ve seen the astronomical difference which adoption can make to young lives.

“My two sons had grown up and flown the nest so I was on my own and coming back to an empty house after work. Something was missing - I realised I wanted to extend my family.

“Adoption seemed like a natural progression, a logical choice. I saw no difference between a birth child and an adopted child.”

Polly (not her real name) was adopted at the age of six and since then has thrived at school and at home. Two years on, Polly enjoys a wide range of school activities and wins awards, and is described as “an absolute dream”.

What was it like once Polly came home?

Louisa said: “Naturally I was worried, wondering if she’d like me and if we’d bond, but we got on really well.

“I remember the excitement when we got home. I gave Polly a key to the front door, and as she turned the key and opened the door I said it was her ‘forever home’.

“Since then Polly has gone from strength to strength. She likes routine and structure so she loves going to school, where she enjoys pre-school and after-school clubs and wins awards.

“Her true nature has come out. She isn’t in ‘survival mode’ anymore, trying to put on a false front to people. She knows she can just be herself.

“She’s an absolute dream and the centre of my universe. She knows that she’s with me forever, because she’s my daughter”

How did Barnardo’s support you?

“I felt valued from the very first day that I contacted Barnardo’s. I had faith in them and they had faith in me.  

“There was lots of paperwork and visits, and lots of questions about my own upbringing. It was very in-depth but it never felt intrusive, and looking back I can see they had to ask so many questions because they were trying to find the right home for a very vulnerable child.

“There was a really good support network and I could speak to other adopters at different stages of their journey, which was a great help.

“At the end of the process I had to appear before a panel but Barnardo’s put me at ease and told me what to expect, so I was really well-prepared.”

Like Louisa, if you think you could give a child the love and support they deserve – we’d love to hear from you.