Adoptive mum Kealie wants to tell everyone about the joys of adopting an older child.

Kealie and her husband Darren, from Prestatyn, North Wales, adopted Jake when he was eight years old.

Jake was removed from his birth family, due to neglect, when he was four and then spent the next four years of his life in foster care.

Older children like Jake spend longer in care because many prospective adopters want to be matched with babies or toddlers.

This is why older children - along with sibling groups, children with disabilities and those who are BAME - make up part of a cohort of children deemed to be harder to place.

But Kealie and Darren had made their minds up from the outset that they wanted to adopt an older child.

Kealie, aged 43, explained: “Having an older child also made it possible for me to be an all-out mum straight away - playing football, board games - which I couldn’t have done with a younger child.”

The couple had originally set their hearts on a child aged three to six but when they saw a profile of Jake, who was eight at the time, they “instantly fell in love with him”.

Kealie concedes she did have preconceived fears about an older child having behavioural issues which she would be unable to fix – but in reality, this was not the case at all.

She said: “Jake’s so smart and switched on. He knows what’s happened to him and he’s had years to understand and make sense of life, so we’ll never have to sit him down and tell him he’s adopted and explain why.

“He really wanted a mum and dad so the transition for him coming into our family was easy.

“Jake’s super clever, he’s thriving at school but what’s been missing from his life is love so we’re doing our best to nurture him.”

Kealie understands that some prospective adopters may be put off adopting an older child through fear of missing all of the first milestones that parents experience with a toddler.

But she points out that while Jake is older on paper, in his mind he is still a three-year old, as a result of his early life experiences.

She said: “I’ve had to go back to basics with Jake which through play therapy has seen me rocking him like a baby, getting him to suck his thumb and encouraging him to make ga-ga baby noises.

“You still get all of those fantastic firsts. I’m the first person to wash his hair in the bath with a jug. I’ll never forget him giggling like a toddler even though he was eight. It was so fulfilling.”

Asked if she would recommend adopting an older child, Kealie replied: “It’s amazing. We have had a lot of support from our local council as Jake is a harder to place child – which has been key.”