Stephen describes how adoption has proved to be right way to build his family.
The journey to become adoptive parents does not start from the same place, nor finish in the same place, for all people. While some of the themes are common, people seem to start with different expectations and finish with different outcomes.
My journey began with the long-held expectation that I would become a father; I remember buying extra copies of certain precious books for the son/daughter I'd yet to meet.
The next chapter of the journey was the recognition that this was not happening, followed by the realisation that it was not going to.
Unlike others, we elected not to go the IVF route, we did consider adoption but didn't pursue it at the time. Instead, through dint of some hard work, the next twist in the tale was relaxing with our fate and becoming happy and content as two.
Looking at adoption had sown a seed though, and we couldn't help but think that all those positives we had for two were there to share with a third. We had loving hearts and a home to share and there might be a child out there who could benefit from that.
So, with undecided minds we set the ball rolling with our local county council's adoption services, the plan being to learn more so that we could make our decision. The adoption preparation course did just that; we learned of the children who are in care needing families and the issues they face.
There were fears that seemed like risks: I was aware of some of the effects of trauma in childhood and of the challenges, and the challenging behaviour, that it could bring. The fear was that we wouldn't be able to cope and our happy life as two would descend into an unhappy struggle.
There were also hopes: that we would make a real difference for a little person and get to experience the joys that being a parent brings.
The assessment process proved to be not just us being evaluated, it was an education and reassurance. It answered many questions, explored many issues, agreed and defined our limits and made us aware of the support we could draw upon to make this union a successful one.
The social workers are there to meet the needs of the child and that means ensuring that the adopters can do the same.
Adoption isn't for everyone, but it's more accessible than many might think. It's certainly a journey that requires a bit of bravery and tenacity to bring to fruition - and of course you live with your child's background, just as they do.
It's worth stating that I didn't deal with a social worker who didn't impress me with their efforts or their character. They were special people following a demanding vocation.
So, fast forward to our present day and we now share our lives with a beautiful baby girl - and we love each other. We are immersed in the joys and anxieties of parenthood - and it's amazing.
I doubt I will do anything more worthwhile in my lifetime.