The Doc Project

ENCORE: My almost brother—a family, a boy, and the adoption that never happened

More than a decade ago, Catharine Tunney’s family was planning on adopting a child. But her family decided not to go ahead with the adoption. Catharine has never been able to shake the feeling they made the wrong choice — and that it was all her fault.
(Getty)
Did you ever do something, something you knew was wrong, and then regret it for years after? 

What would it take to make that nagging feeling fade?

More than a decade ago, Catharine Tunney's family was planning on adopting a child. This wasn't just an abstract plan, the boy they were going to adopt was someone they knew well.

But her family decided not to go ahead with the adoption. 

Catharine has never been able to shake the feeling they made the wrong choice — and that it was all her fault. 

Producer's Notebook

Producing radio that's 'a cherry on top of a crap pie'

By Catharine Tunney

The Tunney family: siblings Joe, Catharine and Eve along with mom, Jane and dad, Mark.

I've always loved longform radio, but I've never produced anything longer than seven minutes until now.

Catharine Tunney with JP.
I had been circling around the idea of pitching an idea I had for years. I knew it had a story arc, it was interesting, original and the characters were all well spoken.

But what kept me back for years was the fact that it's my own family's story. I wanted to pitch a story I knew would cause friction in my family. Tension I wasn't sure we would recover from.

My documentary for The Doc Project follows a nice(ish) family of five who tried to the right thing, but it all went wrong. When I was about about 13 to 14 years old my family decided to try and adopt another child. We were paired up with a boy who was around 12 years old. He was sweet and kind and did nothing wrong.

But I couldn't accept him. At the time, I couldn't even pretend to love him.

Continue reading →

About the producer

Catharine Tunney
Catharine Tunney has learned many jobs to stay alive in journalism. She started as an online writer at the CBC in Halifax, nagging her producers until they let her do television/radio reporting. She also worked with the Nova Scotia bureau's investigative unit. Catharine is now working as a radio producer at CBC Ottawa.

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