The Tearsmith: Is Sunnycreek Home aka Grave a Real Orphanage?

Image Credit: Loris T. Zambelli/Netflix

In Netflix’s ‘The Tearsmith,’ an orphanage becomes the center of a story that unfolds over several years and changes the lives of two people who are intertwined with each other in the most unexpected ways. Nica and Rigel are orphans who live in Sunnycreek Home under the care of a woman named Margaret. Nica and the other kids are subjected to physical and emotional abuse by the warden, who only seems to have a soft spot for Rigel. The children carry this abuse into adulthood, and it defines their lives, which is a heartbreaking thing to watch. Could such a place exist in real life?

Sunnycreek Home is a Fictional Location

‘The Tearsmith’ is based on the novel of the same name by Erin Doom. It is a fictional story that employs fictional characters and made-up surroundings to further the plot. This means that Sunnycreek Home, dubbed Grave by its young residents, is also a made-up place that the author came up with when laying the foundation of Nica and Rigel’s story.

Image Credit: Loris T. Zambelli/Netflix

While Doom may have created Sunnycreek from her imagination, she looked at the real-life experiences of people who grew up in terrible orphanages. The author revealed that during her research for the book, she read up on the laws surrounding adoption and foster care. This led her to read about the experiences of children who have grown up in orphanages and foster care and discovered that some of them had really bad experiences there. Furthermore, she was also struck by how the children who came out of such places would find it difficult to connect with the world that had no idea what they had been through, leading them to feel more isolated and lonely because the only people who can understand their situation are other kids from the same place.

Having a law background, the author also got to understand the nitty-gritty of the process involved in adoption and what it means for the kids as well as the people who are adopting them. All of this gave her enough material, not just in terms of the plot but also in terms of the emotional foundation of the story, and she decided to make Sunnycreek the starting point of Nica and Rigel’s tale. While Sunnycreek doesn’t live up to the standard, it is not to say that all orphanages and foster care homes have the same environment.

Even though the abuse that the children suffer at the hands of Margaret is one of the important plot points in the film, the author wanted the story to have more footing in love, hope, and the importance of family. She wanted to focus on Nica’s loss of one family and her journey in finding another family, be it with the people who adopt her or the kids at the orphanage with whom she forms an unshakeable bond. So, even though Sunnycreek is a traumatizing place, the children find love and support in one another to help each other weather the tough times until they can finally be free of the place and live the lives they want.

Read More: The Tearsmith: What is the Significance of Nica’s Butterfly Necklace?