Unbreakable Bonds began as a small scale qualitative research project conducted by Marisa and Meredith in the fall of 2010, while studying in the Master of Social Work program at Portland State University. Interested in what they discovered was a disproportionate representation of children with an imprisoned or jailed parent in Oregon DHS custody, Meredith and Marisa began a survey of available research on this disproportionality. As part of this research, they conducted several interviews with Oregonian judges, case workers, and attorneys, the result of which were analyzed and cumulated in a qualitative research report titled, Impacts of the Adoption and Safe Families Act on Children with Incarcerated Parents in Oregon.
Following the completion of the report, Marisa and Meredith felt pulled to do something more with this research. In the spring of 2011, they approached Pathfinders of Oregon with the proposition to further explore this research with incarcerated women at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. Pathfinders granted Marisa and Meredith access to their Parenting Inside Out Support groups, where they were able to begin meeting with mothers affected directly by this issue. This meeting process evolved into a new research undertaking, translating all of the work developed thus far and making it come to life in an arts-based, collaborative research project created in partnership with mothers who are incarcerated. Unbreakable Bonds: Keeping Love Alive is the result of this work. The book provides more specific detail as to the journey of the project, as well as a summary of all compiled research.