Wearside-based adoption agency, ARC Adoption North East, supports National Adoption Week

Exploring the significance of ‘memory boxes’ with adopted young people.

  • National Adoption Week 2022 is running from Monday 17th – Sunday 23rd October
  • A powerful short film has been released featuring four adopted people and those closest to them, exploring their ‘memory boxes’ and why it’s so important for them to feel connected to their past.
  • ARC Adoption North East is urging people in Sunderland and the wider North East region to find out more about what modern adoption looks like, and to get in touch for more information: arcadoptionne.org.uk.

This week sees the return of National Adoption Week, which this year is focussing on the theme of ‘identity.’ Sunderland-based Voluntary Adoption Agency, ARC Adoption North East, is encouraging people to understand more about modern adoption, and about how connection to life before adoption can be crucial to an adopted child or person’s sense of identity and emotional wellbeing.

To support this, a new survey has been released national organisation ‘You Can Adopt,’ revealing that ‘memory boxes’ and other sentimental items play a special role in forming our identities and reminding us of the past. Over 60% of people surveyed in the North East keep a ‘memory box’ or equivalent – with common treasured items being printed photographs, greetings cards, toys, and handwritten letters. One in three people keep these items because they help them understand who they are and where they came from, while a third also said it is so that they have something physical about their life to hand down to relatives.

A Digital Memory Box developed for adopted young people


Realising the need for an updated approach to supporting connection to history for adopted people, ARC Adoption North East developed ARCBOX. A life story platform and digital memory box, ARCBOX enables the safe storage and sharing of photographs, letters, messages and other items, which can be uploaded and accessed online via smartphones and other devices. Children are introduced to ARCBOX and the information safely held on there, when it’s most appropriate to do so.

In addition to the ARCBOX platform, ARC Adoption is also developing a ‘Communications App’ to house modern contact, which will help significant people to stay connected in a safe and secure way.


Terry Fitzpatrick OBE, Director of ARC Adoption North East, commented:


“Our team has extensive experience in life story work with children across the North East. ARCBOX provides a fun, modern-day means of children being able to view and interact with elements of their life story, and for adults to safely and age-appropriately facilitate contributions from significant people in the child’s life, whether that be from foster carers, birth family, adoptive parents and social workers. 

“Through our work in this area we realise how important it is to accept a child’s history and past relationships, and we are therefore looking for adopters who are able to embrace this for their child, in an appropriate way.

“Our team is extremely passionate about supporting adopted children’s emotional development and sense of identity, so we are delighted to support this year’s National Adoption Week.”


National Adoption Week film


To mark the start of National Adoption Week, You Can Adopt has released a short film exploring the relationships and memories of four adopted people, as they look back through their own ‘memory boxes’ and keepsakes from their lives before and after they were adopted, which have helped them develop and have an impact on their sense of identity. The emotional film brings to life the connections that adopted people make and how their sense of identity has been formed through various connections in their lives – including birth families, foster carers, friends and adoptive parents.


National Survey


The national survey by You Can Adopt also revealed that 80% of those in the North East say their identity is shaped through connections made throughout their life, and 74% say it is shaped by an understanding of their family history. Adopted people are no different, and many factors play a role in influencing who they are today – including special memories with foster carers and friends, contact with birth parents, knowledge of their family history, and the relationships formed with their adoptive families.


Sarah Johal, member of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group and National Adoption Strategic lead, said:


“With this campaign we want to show that adoption is not a line in the sand, when adopted people close the door on all connections to their life, memories, and relationships from before they were adopted. For the person who is adopted, it is one life – and issues around identity and belonging can come to the fore, particularly if they are not able to have a face-to-face relationship. It is so important for each person to have the information and connections to their life before adoption. That’s why, during National Adoption Week, we’re urging people to find out more about what modern adoption looks like and shining a light on the ongoing journeys of those who have been adopted.”


National Adoption Week is highlighting how modern adoption is changing with the aim of helping adopted people to know more about their family history. This may include being able to stay in touch with birth family members or friends (when safe and supported) and encouraging access to a better quality of information through life story books and later life letters.

In fact, nine out of 10 prospective adopters would consider contact with birth parents, while 78% of adopted people felt that connecting directly with birth family members would have helped them to understand their life history and identity more fully, according to the Adoption Barometer, published by Adoption UK.[i]

While not all adopted people will have mementos from their early life or the opportunity to have contact with people from their life before they were adopted, modern adoption encourages access to a range of quality information. Meanwhile many adopters today make it a priority to help their children to understand and develop their identity, and it is something that is wholly supported by ARC Adoption.  


Finding out more


If you are based in Sunderland or the North East and would like to find out more about adoption, the Ofsted-Outstanding rated, experienced team at ARC Adoption would be very happy to help you further.


ARC Adoption hosts a monthly online information event for prospective adopters to find out more. The next event is taking place on Thursday 3rd November, and you can register here: https://www.arcadoptionne.org.uk/Event/virtual-adoption-information-event-thursday-3th-november-2022


You can also visit www.arcadoptionne.org.uk for information, to submit an enquiry or arrange a call back from the team at a convenient time.  You can also call the team directly on 0191 516 6466 for a friendly and informal chat.


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