Memory boxes for children in care

We have helped create a product that enables adopted children or those in care to keep the stories of their precious birth-family objects alive in an interactive way, and to take a central role in doing so.

‘Who am I’ and ‘What has happened to me?’ are essential questions that life story work with children in care and adoption attempts to address.  Too often the children’s reflections are left out of this process, which can have significant impacts on identity coherence and mental health, and lead to placement breakdown. The direct involvement of children in age-appropriate life story work is essential in order for them to work through what has happened to them. 

trove was a partnership between the University’s Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies and Studio Meineck, to design and test a new technologically innovative product for children. Rooted in academic research, the product development focused on enabling adopted children or children in care to keep the stories of their precious birth-family objects alive in an interactive way and so contribute to their understanding of their life story. trove is unique – it’s a physical container that allows children to curate their most precious objects and to record their stories onto the objects, using Raspberry pi.

"Crucially for children in care or those who have been adopted, while they may keep treasured objects, without birth reminders of the personal stories associated with them, their meaning and origin may easily be lost over time" - The Guardian

trove has been piloted with a small group of adopted children and has received positive feedback from parents:

"It’s not just the actual object, but it’s all the discussions that we have around it. Up to that point you know very much you are telling them what had happened to them, but with trove there was that shift, where we could actually tell them: 'You can now take your story into your own hands - it’s not just about what people are telling you, or what’s in the life storybook. You can make your own history'".

This project was part of the AHRC-funded REACT hub.

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