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The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me

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This is the inspiring and “page-turning” (Booklist) true story of a man who discovered that he had been kidnapped as a baby—and how his quest to find out who he really is upturned the genealogy industry, his own family, and set in motion the second longest cold case in US history. In 1964, a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped an infant boy named Paul Fronczak from a C This is the inspiring and “page-turning” (Booklist) true story of a man who discovered that he had been kidnapped as a baby—and how his quest to find out who he really is upturned the genealogy industry, his own family, and set in motion the second longest cold case in US history. In 1964, a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped an infant boy named Paul Fronczak from a Chicago hospital. Two years later, police found a boy abandoned outside a variety store in New Jersey. The FBI tracked down Dora Fronczak, the kidnapped infant’s mother, and she identified the abandoned boy as her son. The family spent the next fifty years believing they were whole again—but Paul was always unsure about his true identity. Then, four years ago—spurred on by the birth of his first child, Emma Faith—Paul took a DNA test. The test revealed that he was definitely not Paul Fronczak. From that moment on, Paul has been on a tireless mission to find the man whose life he’s been living—and to discover who abandoned him, and why. Poignant and inspiring, The Foundling is a story about a child lost and a faith found, about the permanence of families and the bloodlines that define you, and about the emotional toll of both losing your identity and rediscovering who you truly are.


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This is the inspiring and “page-turning” (Booklist) true story of a man who discovered that he had been kidnapped as a baby—and how his quest to find out who he really is upturned the genealogy industry, his own family, and set in motion the second longest cold case in US history. In 1964, a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped an infant boy named Paul Fronczak from a C This is the inspiring and “page-turning” (Booklist) true story of a man who discovered that he had been kidnapped as a baby—and how his quest to find out who he really is upturned the genealogy industry, his own family, and set in motion the second longest cold case in US history. In 1964, a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped an infant boy named Paul Fronczak from a Chicago hospital. Two years later, police found a boy abandoned outside a variety store in New Jersey. The FBI tracked down Dora Fronczak, the kidnapped infant’s mother, and she identified the abandoned boy as her son. The family spent the next fifty years believing they were whole again—but Paul was always unsure about his true identity. Then, four years ago—spurred on by the birth of his first child, Emma Faith—Paul took a DNA test. The test revealed that he was definitely not Paul Fronczak. From that moment on, Paul has been on a tireless mission to find the man whose life he’s been living—and to discover who abandoned him, and why. Poignant and inspiring, The Foundling is a story about a child lost and a faith found, about the permanence of families and the bloodlines that define you, and about the emotional toll of both losing your identity and rediscovering who you truly are.

30 review for The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mischenko

    To see this review please visit www.readrantrockandroll.com The Foundling by Paul Fronczak is a true story about a boy strayed at childhood and connected to a kidnapping. I was extremely engaged because I'd never heard this story. The book quickly turns into a search through his past and continues on that path until the final conclusion. *Spoilers below* I had to learn what was going to happen with Paul. I wasn't happy with many of Paul's choices, but had high hopes for him, and understand how one To see this review please visit www.readrantrockandroll.com The Foundling by Paul Fronczak is a true story about a boy strayed at childhood and connected to a kidnapping. I was extremely engaged because I'd never heard this story. The book quickly turns into a search through his past and continues on that path until the final conclusion. *Spoilers below* I had to learn what was going to happen with Paul. I wasn't happy with many of Paul's choices, but had high hopes for him, and understand how one needs to know their origins. I agreed with his wife in that he was not necessarily wasting his time, but that it would possibly never come to an end, and that there might always be unanswered questions. I found many parts sad and can't imagine how arduous his journey must've been. In the end, I felt sorry for him and his family. He spent so much time on a group of people that didn't seem to want anything to do with him. I do understand, in my own way, how Paul felt as I've had a similar experience, but at some point I suppose you have to accept things for the way they are. It's certainly a page turner. 4**** and glad to have read it... Here are a few news links on Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njGUO... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGkD4... Thanks to Netgalley for a copy in exchange for a review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I dislike rating memoirs this low because they tell the story of someone's life and who am I to judge them for the way they chose to tell it? That being said, this was kind of a mess. Paul Fronczak clearly is still too close to everything that happened and didn't have the time to process it. As a result, this memoir lacks self reflection and depth. Paul Fronczak's story is mesmerising in its improbability: the people raising him had their son kidnapped from the hospital days after his birth and w I dislike rating memoirs this low because they tell the story of someone's life and who am I to judge them for the way they chose to tell it? That being said, this was kind of a mess. Paul Fronczak clearly is still too close to everything that happened and didn't have the time to process it. As a result, this memoir lacks self reflection and depth. Paul Fronczak's story is mesmerising in its improbability: the people raising him had their son kidnapped from the hospital days after his birth and when a boy is found abandoned two years later it is assumed that he is the Fronczak boy. This book tells the story of Paul Fronczak's search for the truth and what happens when he finds it. I really liked the idea of Paul's search for his identity but I did not appreciate the journey at all. His quest disrupts not only his own life and that of his wife and daughter, but that of his parents' and of uncountable strangers who happen to share his genetics. I found him to be difficult to relate to because of his apparent lack of empathy for the pain he causes. But my main problem was his discussion of identity. Now, that is definitely a me thing and might not be a problem for other readers, but identity is a very important concept for me - in fact I am writing my PhD on identity construction. I seriously disliked the way the author boils down identity to genetics. This is so different to everything I believe in and I think it did a real disservice to the parents who raised Paul Fronczak. __________ I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Howard Books in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    Wow-- all I can say is that. RTC. I need time to digest this. Review and interview with the author Paul Joseph Fronczak on our blog. https://twogalsandabook.com/ Every parent's worst nightmare. A baby is born, and only a day old disappears out of the hospital in Chicago by a woman dressed like a nurse. Gone without a trace. The hospital doesn't bother to tell you, the mother, for several hours after they discover that the baby is gone. 2 years later, a boy that seems to be the right age is abandon Wow-- all I can say is that. RTC. I need time to digest this. Review and interview with the author Paul Joseph Fronczak on our blog. https://twogalsandabook.com/ Every parent's worst nightmare. A baby is born, and only a day old disappears out of the hospital in Chicago by a woman dressed like a nurse. Gone without a trace. The hospital doesn't bother to tell you, the mother, for several hours after they discover that the baby is gone. 2 years later, a boy that seems to be the right age is abandoned in New Jersey. After doing every test available in 1966 to determine who the child might belong to, the FBI thinks he might be the one kidnapped 2 years prior in Chicago. Sound too far fetched to be true? Guess again. This story is about the 2nd oldest cold case infant kidnapping in FBI history, and to a large extent has never been resolved. In the quest to find answers, only more mysteries emerged, evidence of more crime found. The case has never been solved. I can't even begin to imagine the hell the Fronczak parents went through, nor the boy the book is about. I can't imagine what went through his biological parents' heads to do whatever they did. This story touched so many lives, and I empathize with Paul Fronczak in his journey to answer his lifelong questions that are at the core of everyone-- who am I, where did I come from, except for most of us, the basic answers to those questions are easy: my parents are...., I come from generations of.... my grandparents emigrated from... etc, but not only for himself, but also his daughter. He couldn't answer basic questions about family health history to wife's obstetrician. What if their daughter should inherit something that could possibly come from him, and no one had any idea. I can't imagine the vacuous void he carried in him his whole life, not knowing who he was. I can't imagine his parents, hoping they raised their own son but not knowing for sure. In the search, what is dug up is lots of things that were maybe better forgotten. His quest became a compulsion that nearly destroyed his marriage, and the relationship with his adopted parents. This book will stay with me forever. It raises many questions, should he have been happy not knowing? When things started to come out, should he have just dropped the whole thing? If you were in his shoes, wanting forever to know the truth about yourself and your origins, could you? I received this book from Netgalley. Thanks to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for an unforgettable book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    An engaging and touching true story about a man trying to find the answers to to questions about his identity and his struggle to understand the past and to accept the answers he was given. This is the story of Paul Fronczak who after 50 years learns through a DNA test that he is not who he thought he was and the road to discovery is no longer available to him through regular means but through the amazing advances in DNA testing. In 1964 a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped and infant boy An engaging and touching true story about a man trying to find the answers to to questions about his identity and his struggle to understand the past and to accept the answers he was given. This is the story of Paul Fronczak who after 50 years learns through a DNA test that he is not who he thought he was and the road to discovery is no longer available to him through regular means but through the amazing advances in DNA testing. In 1964 a woman pretending to be a nurse kidnapped and infant boy named Paul Fronczak from a Chicago hospital, two years later police found a boy abandoned outside a a New Jersey store, the kidnapped infant's mother identifies him as her missing son and so Paul rejoins his family and only years later does he begin to suspect that all is not what it seems and his long search for the truth begins. This is a very interesting story about families and belonging and what it is like for someone living on the outside of a family and knowing they don't belong and the struggle to find their identity. I also have an interest in Genealogy as I have done quite a lot of research into my own family history as there was a mystery going way back that needed unravelling but this was just a hobby for me and noting on the scare of Paul's case but I was amazed at the twist and turns and drawbacks that he had to endure. While the book is well written there were times I got a little bogged down in the names and research and some of the story became a little bit repetitive and yet I understand that Paul needed to document his journey and all the names of people and places that became part of the research. Having said that I was rooting for Paul all the way and wanted to see where is journey took him and would the answers change his life. An interesting story That kept me turning the pages.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    An astonishing, riveting, and heartfelt debut memoir of an infant abduction that led to the largest manhunt in the history of Chicago: “The Foundling” authored by Paul Fronczak with Alex Tresniowski is also about search for identity and truth found in family ties and connections, whether biological or of the heart. Part I-- The Fronczak infant boy (Paul Joseph), born at the Chicago Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago on April 27, 1964 was abducted by a woman posing as a nurse. The suspect was seen An astonishing, riveting, and heartfelt debut memoir of an infant abduction that led to the largest manhunt in the history of Chicago: “The Foundling” authored by Paul Fronczak with Alex Tresniowski is also about search for identity and truth found in family ties and connections, whether biological or of the heart. Part I-- The Fronczak infant boy (Paul Joseph), born at the Chicago Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago on April 27, 1964 was abducted by a woman posing as a nurse. The suspect was seen by several people with the infant, after she took the baby from his mother for an alleged medical examination. On May 5th, Dora and Chester Fronczak returned to their home in an unmarked police car, as news media reporters attempted to get exclusive comments and interviews. The local police force and FBI conducted an extensive search and investigation, yet the infant wasn’t found at the time. On July 2, 1965 an abandoned boy toddler was found at an exclusive shopping center in Newark, NJ. By March of 1966, the FBI couldn’t confirm or deny the true identity of this “foundling” child. When Dora Fronczak saw the NJ toddler for the first time, she exclaimed: “My God! This is my baby!” Since no proof could be legally established, the Fronczak’s were permitted by the state of New Jersey to legally adopt the boy in 1967. When Paul was an older youth, he found and read the old newspaper clippings of the mysterious child abduction. His overprotective mother never let him out of her sight, he was never allowed to roam about the neighborhood with his friends. Instinctively, Paul realized he was an “outsider” in his family. He didn’t resemble or act like a Fronczak; in their family portrait Paul looked as if he was photo-shopped in, he and his younger brother Dave had never gotten along. As Fronczak matured, he would realize in his strange and unusual upbringing, that his parents never acted in a manner of “mean-ness or neglect “ but were traumatized and acted out of fear resulting from their ordeal. The continuing “nagging mystery” surrounding his existence, reached a higher troubling point when Paul and his second wife Michelle were to become parents, and needed his medical history. The ordeal was no longer just about him, and would include his newborn daughter Emma Faith. Paul took a DNA test-- if he wasn’t Paul Fronczak, who was he? In Part II-- Paul Fronczak’s story was picked up by the media on April 25, 2013. The story was presented by multi-award winning journalist George Knapp who broke the famous story of “USAF Area 51”. Hundreds of messages and tips flooded in. In addition, Paul was later interviewed by Barbara Walters for the television program 20/20. New terminology was learned: NPE- (Non-Paternity Event) – ULP- (Unidentified Living Person). Each year over 135,000 children are adopted and 400,000 are in Foster Care. Paul was contacted by the FBI, and learned that boxes of files for the Fronczak case had been slated to be shredded, but were remarkably found in a storage room, the case was reopened in August 2013. The book highlighted the possibilities for identification through DNA testing and the dedicated efforts of genetic genealogists that donated hundreds of research hours on his case. As Fronczak became consumed by the search for his truth, his personal life was impacted in unexpected ways as he gained profound insight regarding the unnatural act of child abandonment, forgiveness, and living an authentic life. ~ With appreciation to Howard Books via NetGalley for the DRC for the purpose of review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Antigone

    It's holiday time and the house is empty. Ten-year-old Paul Fronczak, mischievous lad that he is, sets off to hunt down the family's cache of hidden Christmas presents. He runs down to the basement and pulls an old gray sofa from the wall in order to reach a wooden door leading to a crawlspace. He rifles through the items in storage there until he comes across a couple of old shoeboxes filled to the brim with newspaper clippings. The headlines scream: Kidnapping! A newborn child had been taken f It's holiday time and the house is empty. Ten-year-old Paul Fronczak, mischievous lad that he is, sets off to hunt down the family's cache of hidden Christmas presents. He runs down to the basement and pulls an old gray sofa from the wall in order to reach a wooden door leading to a crawlspace. He rifles through the items in storage there until he comes across a couple of old shoeboxes filled to the brim with newspaper clippings. The headlines scream: Kidnapping! A newborn child had been taken from a Chicago hospital. Law enforcement mobilized; a search ensued. And, as it turns out, that child was him. Or was it? Two years after the kidnapping, a toddler is found abandoned outside a department store in Newark, New Jersey. Absent access to DNA testing and footprint or fingerprint records, the best the authorities can do is make an educated guess. This boy, they say, is young Paul Fronczak. To Chicago he is flown, reunited, raised. And no one talks about it. Even after being confronted with those holiday shoebox findings, no one's willing to tell Paul very much of anything. And so it goes for years and years. And for years and years he accepts this. Right up until the birth of his child. The bond he feels upon holding her is, he becomes convinced, the bond he's been denied all his life...and another sort of hunt begins. This is the kind of story upon which the genre of True Crime was built. It's got all the tabloid enticements. Vile transgression, primal fear, human pathos and a mystery to solve - the ingredients are here. And in the hands of a seasoned journalist this would have made an excellent tale. But we're not in the hands of a seasoned journalist. We're in the hands of the foundling. I would like to say Paul Fronczak let his hunger for the truth get the best of him, but in retrospect I think hunger is all this soul has ever known. And it's that grasping, self-entitled sort of hunger that doesn't give a damn who it hurts or how it gets its needs met, just so long as it does. As a reader I was clearly meant to identify with this untethered man and his desperate desire to establish the state of ancestral connection most of us take for granted. Instead I found my sympathies turning toward all those unsuspecting folk he and his crew of dedicated genealogists would contact out of the blue and provide with DNA kits - banking, in the same way this book does, on the evocative nature of the crime to coerce their interest and cooperation. It's a harsh quest, and a sad one, and disturbingly id-compelled. And I suppose I can understand how this came to be so...but it doesn't make the reading any more pleasant.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Davyne DeSye

    A real life mystery… very intriguing and kept me turning pages until the very end. Paul Joseph Fronczak never felt like he “belonged” with his family. But it wasn’t until he was 10 years old that he discovered old newspaper articles in his family’s basement all about his kidnapping from the hospital the day after he was born, and then his ultimate recovery two years later that he really started having questions. And the main question was “I am – the boy who was recovered – really the boy who was A real life mystery… very intriguing and kept me turning pages until the very end. Paul Joseph Fronczak never felt like he “belonged” with his family. But it wasn’t until he was 10 years old that he discovered old newspaper articles in his family’s basement all about his kidnapping from the hospital the day after he was born, and then his ultimate recovery two years later that he really started having questions. And the main question was “I am – the boy who was recovered – really the boy who was kidnapped? Am I the real Paul Fronczak?” A heck of a question! He didn’t find any answers, or even begin to look for answers, until after his own daughter was born and he was questioned about his family medical history. When a DNA test proved he was not Paul Fronczak, this raised a slew of other questions: Who am I? Where is the real Paul Fronczak? This was a fascinating read with an ongoing FBI investigation, genetic genealogy (trying to build family trees from DNA) and classic genealogy searches. My mother has always been big into genealogy, so for me, reading about the process of tracking family down through oral histories, old documents, censuses, etc., was fascinating for me to read about. I very much enjoyed the search and how the “mystery” played out. The sad part for me is how many people were hurt by the investigation. I naturally can’t relate to the author’s need to find his real family, as I was not adopted, but I have heard that this is a normal reaction to finding out that your family isn’t your “real” family. I won’t question the author there. Unfortunately, the author did strike me as a bit naïve (in fact, he used that word to describe himself so often it almost seemed a joke by the end of the book) in not thinking through the various repercussions of his search. Just a couple of examples: In proving that he was not the real Paul Fronczak, this immediately caused the FBI to reopen the kidnapping case because there is no statute of limitations on child kidnapping. If/when the real Paul is found, the kidnapper (possibly the woman he believes is his real mother) will be arrested. (Not that this wouldn’t be appropriate, but whoa!) Also, in (eventually) finding his real family and making contact, he will be bringing to light the fact that somebody (likely a parent) abandoned him as a very young child… if he has siblings, or if his parents are still alive, how is this going to affect that family? And if he turns up a potentially even darker secret… I am not suggesting that the search for one’s origins and family is not a legitimate goal, but the reason I say the author was a bit naïve is because he actually seemed hurt when people got angry with him or didn’t want to welcome him with open arms. After all, none of this was done quietly and privately but was broadcast across national television over a period of years. And of course, the truly sad part: In his mania for searching and discovering his “real” family, his own marriage was sacrificed, and now his daughter is in shared custody. This seemed like an ironic and tragic loss for a person who threw all caution to the wind because of his unshakable conviction that family was the most important thing of all. When it is all said and done (or read and done?), this book presented an intriguing mystery, was factually interesting and also, clearly, evoked emotions on my part. I probably wouldn’t read it again, but I’m certainly not sorry I read it the first time!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katie Larson

    If you like biographies or mystery thrillers, pick this book up immediately! I could not put it down and finished it within two days. This story has more twists, turns, dead ends, new glimpses of hope, questions and answers and then more questions then you could ever believe. It's hard to sit back and remember that this is someone's life and not a mixture of a soap opera and Star Wars. While the end of the book does not give you all the answers, because Paul himself does not yet have all the ans If you like biographies or mystery thrillers, pick this book up immediately! I could not put it down and finished it within two days. This story has more twists, turns, dead ends, new glimpses of hope, questions and answers and then more questions then you could ever believe. It's hard to sit back and remember that this is someone's life and not a mixture of a soap opera and Star Wars. While the end of the book does not give you all the answers, because Paul himself does not yet have all the answers, you are left with a great sense of optimism for him and his journey. This book is inspiring in its honesty and openness. You truly get a sense of the hard work that went into putting all the pieces of this puzzle together, or at least finding as many pieces as they have. The only difficulty I had with this story was trying to keep all of the names straight, but that is often me reading a book. I wish it included an image of Paul's family tree at the end, but I can see how hard that would be with getting all the found family members to sign off on. Over all a wonderful read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Producervan in Cornville, AZ from New Orleans & L.A.

    What a fascinating book. A can't-put-it-down factual account of the nearly inscrutable life of a brave man who searches for his true identity that is by turns heartbreaking and comforting. HIGHLY recommend for adoptees and those who find the growing science of DNA and family history of keen interest. What a fascinating book. A can't-put-it-down factual account of the nearly inscrutable life of a brave man who searches for his true identity that is by turns heartbreaking and comforting. HIGHLY recommend for adoptees and those who find the growing science of DNA and family history of keen interest.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    For most readers this book will more closely approach a 4 star read. But for me it was almost exactly a 3.5 star. And I can't round it up because the length in a tremendous number of "asides" to himself apart from the issue of finding his DNA matches? Well at times that just overwhelmed the entire progress of the book. The tangent 10 page escapade event or adventure or time period job or some other "aside" to the progress of his searching? That made this a very long and detailed read. And much o For most readers this book will more closely approach a 4 star read. But for me it was almost exactly a 3.5 star. And I can't round it up because the length in a tremendous number of "asides" to himself apart from the issue of finding his DNA matches? Well at times that just overwhelmed the entire progress of the book. The tangent 10 page escapade event or adventure or time period job or some other "aside" to the progress of his searching? That made this a very long and detailed read. And much of it has far more to do with Paul himself than it does to his ancestral entity inheritance. Paul (Scott or Jack- the other names he was known by during his lifespan) is all about Paul (Scott or Jack). He's a firmly "needful of change and variety" detached to most deeply emotional connections"me" person. His job and relationship history is epoch for the numbers of them alone. Every aspect of this self-discovery is seated in himself. Never forget that. If you are looking for a search, study, lawful or otherwise many yeared description of an episode like you would see on TLC's TV Long Lost (adoptees searching for birth parents and siblings)- then you may be dismayed by this particular long paged writing example. Because it is a forced issue on both sides by Paul. From his adopted parents to his DNA partial or distance matches - all across there is a consistent "force" issue. The "others" rights and emotive or economic choices just negated or dismissed if the time is "right" for Paul. Paul (in the last few pages of the book) is still talking more about his OWN forgiving of those who abandoned him- than he is at all evaluating or numbering in depth the forgiveness quotient he owes to them himself for those (dozens by the end) whose lives he disrupted or hurt during and within the search process. Because time and time again he doesn't give them a choice and just about (OR DOES) storms their doors. The choices are all his taken- and only rarely are they being donated in any more than a defensive position quantity. His poor 2nd wife too becoming his ex during the whole obsessive process? Completely understandable. That may seem like a spoiler but it isn't. Paul doesn't tell or write in a linear and succinct manner. He tells much "up front" and then tells it again during the time span of its occurrence. It's interesting to me, and to some it might read enthralling. The depths of hours, weeks, months, years of time and energy spent trying to find both sets of birth parents (His own the real Paul Froncak's both) and their "now" offspring or descendants too. And Jill's fate eventually because he's never "done" with searching. But it is all an obsession which negated rights and feelings of others as completely secondary. I'm rather shocked that so many readers of this book little respond to that aspect. Only one or two seem to mention much of that in their reviews. As if anything Paul did would be "wounded" justified just because of the mislabeling and hurt handed out to him before he was 3 years old. But it is a tale of DNA and the current large commercial database DNA ancestry outfits. And the law as it was. And also for an excellent window of "eyes" to a past immigrant 1st and 2nd generation American experience. All of the input seems to be valid. I'm just set aback that he has so little respect or loyalty to the people who raised him and loved him. I know those people well. They were the people in Chicago all around me in my own youth. And many of them were exactly Chester and Paul's Mom. You will like this book far more if you believe nature overturns nurture in most homo sapiens, IMHO. And that a "feeling" of not belonging equates to the right to sure knowledge despite all else and others' lawful and psychological conditions which may preclude it. I so remember the Michael Reese baby snatching in the early 1960's. So many places in this book I could remember physical appearances. WELL! But the entire middle section (Part Two- Vegas) is truly overdrawn and in many arenas redundant. It's barely a 3 star. Part I & Part Three which is Atlantic City are better than 3 stars, IMHO. The photos are well done. At least 4 star in their choices and in their photographic detail. It's well worth the read as a sociological insight. The mores of family habits change, and societal cultures of "norms" do too. Be aware that you are going to read about a narcissistic individual and it's all about him constantly.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    5 stars! I really found this book really interesting and also very fastening too. The one thing that really interesting was on how the people in the story went missing and how everyone tried everything to find them or even get justice for them. I also really loved how this book had different stories of different people and different situations. This book was really good and also very, very, very interesting in so many ways.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This is an autobiography that also encompasses true crime. A new born babe (a boy) went missing in the hospital back in the early 60's. Two years later, a boy who is just barely a toddler, is abandoned in front of a store. Since DNA tests weren't around, the FBI studied the ears of this boy and the ears from a photo of the baby stolen 2 years earlier. They then gave the toddler to the family who had their baby stolen in the hospital. Well decades later, he learns he is not their biological son. This is an autobiography that also encompasses true crime. A new born babe (a boy) went missing in the hospital back in the early 60's. Two years later, a boy who is just barely a toddler, is abandoned in front of a store. Since DNA tests weren't around, the FBI studied the ears of this boy and the ears from a photo of the baby stolen 2 years earlier. They then gave the toddler to the family who had their baby stolen in the hospital. Well decades later, he learns he is not their biological son. I found the genealogy portion of this quite fascinating because that is one my own favorite hobbies. There were more than a few times where the mom in me wanted to smack this guy on the back of the head for many reasons, but for the most part, Paul Fronczak had such a compelling story to tell. He discovers his family and the depths of the dysfunction within it. I truly hope he can find peace and contentment.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    (reading for rpl irl book club) Ok, so here it is past my bedtime. I was about halfway when I sat down, and next thing I knew hours had passed and I was done. I don't know why this book isn't more famous. Lots of people are interested in family history, and cold cases, and kidnappings, and quests for identity. And it's lucidly written, with just a little bit of a light streak running through the struggles to leaven. I'm going to go visit the website to see if there's news: FoundlingPaul.com. And ye (reading for rpl irl book club) Ok, so here it is past my bedtime. I was about halfway when I sat down, and next thing I knew hours had passed and I was done. I don't know why this book isn't more famous. Lots of people are interested in family history, and cold cases, and kidnappings, and quests for identity. And it's lucidly written, with just a little bit of a light streak running through the struggles to leaven. I'm going to go visit the website to see if there's news: FoundlingPaul.com. And yet going in I had little interest myself. I've always believed that the past can stay buried, and that the family that raised you is your own. Well, I still pretty much believe that... but now I can see why some people have the drive to know more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leigh McInnes

    It started as a 5 stars but after half way through it dragged and became too long and detailed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    SundayAtDusk

    In the beginning, Foundling was an intriguing story, particularly for a reader who knew nothing about the case. Paul Fronczak discovered at the age of 10 that he was kidnapped as a newborn, and later returned to his parents two years later. When he confronted his mother with his new knowledge, she became angry and made it clear the topic was not to be discussed; it was over and was not going to be relived. Fast forward many decades--Mr. Fronczak saw paternity DNA tests in a drug store and convin In the beginning, Foundling was an intriguing story, particularly for a reader who knew nothing about the case. Paul Fronczak discovered at the age of 10 that he was kidnapped as a newborn, and later returned to his parents two years later. When he confronted his mother with his new knowledge, she became angry and made it clear the topic was not to be discussed; it was over and was not going to be relived. Fast forward many decades--Mr. Fronczak saw paternity DNA tests in a drug store and convinced his visiting parents to provide samples, just to see for sure that he was their son. He was not. Thus, began an obsessive search for the author. Who was he? Who were his real parents? What happened to the real baby Paul? The word “obsessive” is not being used lightly here either. While Mr. Fronczak’s wife kept pointing out that he was often emotionally abandoning her and their daughter to look for his “real” family, as well as the missing baby, he repeatedly admitted he ignored her warnings, even though he knew he should not. They ended up separating. Much of the book was about the author’s mixed emotions about the matter, and his inability to stop searching for more and more answers. So, in a sense, this was a therapy type memoir. It also deeply explored DNA testing; the companies that now provide it to everyone, such as Ancestry.com; and researchers who tirelessly attempt to put together family trees and discover lost relatives. A few of those researchers immensely helped Mr. Fronczak and he eventually discovered his biological family. He knew his real name and some of the circumstances involving his abandonment at the age of two. He also discovered he had a twin sister, and no one knows what happened to her. There was a good chance she was killed, either accidentally or intentionally. This gets us to all the information in the book about his biological family. Since crimes obviously occurred, the author had no problems invading anyone’s and everyone’s privacy, and talking on and on about this family. While some readers may find that interesting, others will recognize yet another memoirist who feels all readers have unlimited interest in his or her relatives. By the time the end of the book is reached, an intriguing story had turned into a bit of a self-absorbed, tiresome one. In addition, one was left with the impression that Paul Fronczak still felt he did not know who he truly was, and would continue searching for his twin and the stolen baby Paul. Continued searching is not necessarily a bad thing, except the author obviously has trouble living in the present; but finds more meaning and happiness discovering and dwelling on the past; and anxiously awaiting future news about the case. It has become one huge never-ending drama. Are genes and early childhood experiences what determines happiness and success in life, or is it all the decisions one freely makes every day starting at a very young age? You are what you do. What you do is the real you. (Note: I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher.)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    Well written! I had a hard time putting it down. I read at the dinner table even. Mystery, intrigue, genealogy and all true. Highly recommend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    KathrynK

    I picked this book while visiting family and could not put it down! The book wraps the stories of two lost babies into one fascinating, true story. As the author struggles to find his place in the world, he considers what it means to be a parent, a brother, a family, and how much of one's destiny is predetermined by DNA, upbringing, and individual choices. I picked this book while visiting family and could not put it down! The book wraps the stories of two lost babies into one fascinating, true story. As the author struggles to find his place in the world, he considers what it means to be a parent, a brother, a family, and how much of one's destiny is predetermined by DNA, upbringing, and individual choices.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    In 1964, in a Chicago USA maternity hospital, a nurse went through the ward checking babies faces. She didn't speak until she was finished then she went back, picked up baby Paul Joseph Fronczak, told his mother the paediatrician wanted to examine him, walked out of the ward and out of the hospital. Despite a huge manhunt, the 'nurse' was never seen again and baby was neither returned nor recovered. Fourteen months later, halfway across the country, a toddler boy was abandoned on a well to do str In 1964, in a Chicago USA maternity hospital, a nurse went through the ward checking babies faces. She didn't speak until she was finished then she went back, picked up baby Paul Joseph Fronczak, told his mother the paediatrician wanted to examine him, walked out of the ward and out of the hospital. Despite a huge manhunt, the 'nurse' was never seen again and baby was neither returned nor recovered. Fourteen months later, halfway across the country, a toddler boy was abandoned on a well to do street outside a shop entrance. After some time it was announced that he was the missing baby Paul Fronczak. But Paul never felt 'at home' in his family although he knew his parents loved him. Nearly 50 years later, after the birth of his own child, Paul took a DNA test and began the search for his 'true' identity. I listened to the Audible version which was 11 hours 24 min. It did drag in sections, especially in the early sections where Paul was recounting the history the lead up to his discoveries with little about his own reactions. But it is an amazing potboiler on it's own. It was absolutely worth holding on though because there were sections that literally made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I struggled with the technology (I kept having skips) and the reader's voice at times, but it didn't stop me from being engrossed in the story. If you've ever done your family tree, enjoyed Who Do You Think You Are, love detailed detective work, or just like biographies, this book is for you!! It asks What makes identity? What makes family? It has history, mystery and great detective work, success and failure, joy and pain, love and sorrow. You will make judgements, rethink them and make them again. I'd never heard any of this story before and can understand how it changed hospital procedures such as leading to hand and footprints of newborns being required. I have spent decades working professionally with kids and adolescents who have PTSD and/or are in foster care, and their families, and so much of this story should be prescribed reading for professionals. Even though Paul was placed in a safe and loving home as a toddler and loved his parents and was loved by them, that did not stop him from being affected by what went before. And you can see the effect that it had on his whole life. The one critique that I have is that there is a strong and unwarranted emphasis on genetic explanations for behaviour. At the time of writing this book Paul clearly has little understanding of the consequences of Attachment Disorder and PTSD and how these become generational issues. He wrote this book in great part to assist others who may be in the similar situations to his. To them I would say, Paul would have been greatly helped by therapy. Get help, as some of the difficulties Paul faced in this book could have been avoided with appropriate professional assistance. Do not try to do this journey alone.

  19. 4 out of 5

    M J

    I read this book in two days and it would have been sooner if I was able to do nothing but read. I say this because it kept me so excited, curious and interested cover to cover. I have a lot of interest in genealogy, and finding family because I have my own family mystery as well, although nothing like this story that is for sure. In stumbling across some old news articles, Paul finds that the person who he believed he is, is in question as well as the only family he has ever known. Or is it the I read this book in two days and it would have been sooner if I was able to do nothing but read. I say this because it kept me so excited, curious and interested cover to cover. I have a lot of interest in genealogy, and finding family because I have my own family mystery as well, although nothing like this story that is for sure. In stumbling across some old news articles, Paul finds that the person who he believed he is, is in question as well as the only family he has ever known. Or is it the only family he has ever known? Maybe this could answer questions that he has always had about his relationship with his family or maybe it will open up a whole lot more. The book is well written and easy to follow despite the many twists and turns of this unbelievable true story. It is very hard to come forth to find truth in family history, especially when everyone isn't on the same page. You risk the possibilities of hurting those you care about in discovering the deep need of knowing exactly who you are and or truth. I for one am very happy that Paul has decided to share his story for the good and the bad of it. I am sure this book will be helpful to many in their own search and hopefully it will be helpful to Paul in the completion of his own story. I really liked this book and have added it to my favorites. I recommend it to anyone whether they have questions in their own family or just find interest in the subject.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    You might have a little difficulty getting through some of the self-analysis in the first portion of the book. He described his mysterious differences with his family and I didn't agree that any of this was significant. It all sounded a bit simplistic. But ... wait a little bit! The story builds and becomes more and more complex as things move along. We've got lots of good things thrown together here: history, crime, mystery, family drama, DNA research, speculation, revelation. All of this is we You might have a little difficulty getting through some of the self-analysis in the first portion of the book. He described his mysterious differences with his family and I didn't agree that any of this was significant. It all sounded a bit simplistic. But ... wait a little bit! The story builds and becomes more and more complex as things move along. We've got lots of good things thrown together here: history, crime, mystery, family drama, DNA research, speculation, revelation. All of this is well told and in spite of myself, I could not put it down. The second half of this mystery is yet to unfold. I finally had to peek on the internet to see how it was all going to turn out.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angel Hench

    I realize that I will never hava any idea what this man went through when finding out that the parents who raised him were not part of his natural-born family. However, I also felt like he has now rewritten his entire history through the lens of this experience. All families have disagreements, all family members have moments when they think, "Oh my god, I cannot be related to these people." His total disregard for what his adoptive parents, brother, wife and child were going through while he wa I realize that I will never hava any idea what this man went through when finding out that the parents who raised him were not part of his natural-born family. However, I also felt like he has now rewritten his entire history through the lens of this experience. All families have disagreements, all family members have moments when they think, "Oh my god, I cannot be related to these people." His total disregard for what his adoptive parents, brother, wife and child were going through while he was on this journey, as well as his whiny, petulant attitude sorely taxed my resolve to finish this book and find out what really happened. I found the entire middle of this book completely mind-numbing. Perhaps if you are someone who is going through a similar search on a geneology site, this information might be useful. But, I am not one of those people. The story of the author's kidnapping was interesting, and once he finally gets some answers about his past the story moves swiftly. I am glad that I finished the book, and I hope that the author has finally agreed to counseling. I think it would help him alot.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Candi Hadley

    I was fascinated by this book! I usually have a harder time reading nonfiction, but I couldn't put this down. I couldn't wait to find out the things Paul found in his search! While the writing seemed a little unorganized and all over the place at times, especially early on, the anticipation kept me reading. The story is so unbelievable, it's like one of those that has to be true, because you just can't make it up. I was fascinated by this book! I usually have a harder time reading nonfiction, but I couldn't put this down. I couldn't wait to find out the things Paul found in his search! While the writing seemed a little unorganized and all over the place at times, especially early on, the anticipation kept me reading. The story is so unbelievable, it's like one of those that has to be true, because you just can't make it up.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    A well written, page turner about a real life mystery. The story was surprising on every level.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Part mystery - part autobiography - part scientific exploration of genetics. I found the combination of all of this to be heartbreakingly fascinating. The initial part of the story concerns the discovery by Paul Fronczak of the circumstances surrounding his birth. He finds a chest with clippings and letters and other memorabilia which detail the kidnapping of one-day old Paul Joseph Fronczak from the hospital in April 1964 and the subsequent return of a toddler, presumed to be Paul, almost 2 year Part mystery - part autobiography - part scientific exploration of genetics. I found the combination of all of this to be heartbreakingly fascinating. The initial part of the story concerns the discovery by Paul Fronczak of the circumstances surrounding his birth. He finds a chest with clippings and letters and other memorabilia which detail the kidnapping of one-day old Paul Joseph Fronczak from the hospital in April 1964 and the subsequent return of a toddler, presumed to be Paul, almost 2 years later. When Paul asks his parents about this, he's told in no uncertain terms to drop it. But curiosity drives him to find out what he can - reading the clippings or looking up the events - but it's not until the birth of his daughter that he feels driven to really examine his past. By this time, paternity tests can be obtained at the drugstore and he gets his parents to do it. Although they regret it and ask him not to submit the tests, he does and discovers that he is not their biological son, something he had suspected for some time. Thus begins the next part of the mystery. This is really the story of 2 mysteries. One is the still unsolved kidnapping of the "real" (original) Paul Fronczak. That child has never been identified. Although there may have been a few leads, this one may never be concluded without another long-shot DNA match-up through the various databases. The other mystery was the mystery of who was the boy that was abandoned and eventually raised as Paul Fronczak? Here DNA came on scene just in time to connect some far-flung dots. Through the tireless work of genetic database genealogists, tracking back through family trees, Paul is able to track down some parts of his biological family. There is so much that is sad in this story. Paul himself says many times that he loves and respects his parents who adopted and raised him, despite not knowing whether he was their son or not. Yet his actions did go against their wishes and caused strife within his family for years. It is likely not much different than the friction that adoption can create, especially when it's been hidden from the adoptee instead of openly discussed. Nevertheless the estrangement caused problems for years. He also started this journey with the support of his wife, but as his search becomes more consuming, she wonders whether his search will even end, if it will ever be enough. Eventually this search does what she feared and drives a wedge between them. Paul's search also seems to have implications for other members of his biological family and he seldom thinks of their comfort level with dredging up the past. Finally the past that he uncovers is so bleak - alcohol abuse, domestic violence, even possibly the cover-up of murder or accidental death. I can't help but think that Paul was so much better off with his adopted family - a family with their own issues - but one that loved and cared for him, that educated him and gave him a solid upbringing. Perhaps that was what I took from this - yes, he was abandoned - but just as a mother gives up a child for adoption, I think that someone abandoned him in the hopes that he would have a better life. Looking at him 50 years later, I think they succeeded.

  25. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Marlene♥

    Finished last night. The third good non fiction book I’ve read in a row. It was funny that some of the researchers from The Lost Family also played a significant role in this book, I am not so sure Paul is very likable. Well he at least is honest which is a bonus but i did think he was quite harsh about the parents who raised him. Apparently he does have some of the same family characteristics as the family he found. It was easy for them to no talk with each other for years as did Paul when he di Finished last night. The third good non fiction book I’ve read in a row. It was funny that some of the researchers from The Lost Family also played a significant role in this book, I am not so sure Paul is very likable. Well he at least is honest which is a bonus but i did think he was quite harsh about the parents who raised him. Apparently he does have some of the same family characteristics as the family he found. It was easy for them to no talk with each other for years as did Paul when he did not speak to his parents. For me this was a quick read. Had not heard of what happened to him and I wish him all the best.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dawns

    Fascinating true story. I listened to this book on audible, but probably should have read it in book form with a notepad and pen. The book is about Paul’s journey to find out who he is, where he came from. It wasn’t easy for me to grasp all the connections in the family tree listening to the story, it went over my head and I had to keep going back to make sure I was following who is who in this very tangled and desperate search to find out who you are.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dara S.

    This was a fascinating story. Since I am into genealogy, I especially was interested in Paul finding his family. He used DNA, and as he got closer to the truth he found several other mysteries. Paul was abandoned in a stroller front of a store in 1965. As he traced his family, he found he came from a very dysfunctional family. He had several setbacks on his three year journey and parts of his story was very sad, but had lots of good people who cared and helped him in his quest to find his family This was a fascinating story. Since I am into genealogy, I especially was interested in Paul finding his family. He used DNA, and as he got closer to the truth he found several other mysteries. Paul was abandoned in a stroller front of a store in 1965. As he traced his family, he found he came from a very dysfunctional family. He had several setbacks on his three year journey and parts of his story was very sad, but had lots of good people who cared and helped him in his quest to find his family.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    In 1964, when Paul Fronczak was 1 day old, he was kidnapped from the maternity ward of a hospital in Chicago.  Fourteen months later a child was found abandoned in New Jersey.  Very limited scientific tests were available at the time to determine paternity.  All the FBI could say was that they could not rule out the possibility that the child found in New Jersey was Paul Fronczak.  So they gave this child to the Fronczak family and considered both cases closed. When he was 10 years old Paul foun In 1964, when Paul Fronczak was 1 day old, he was kidnapped from the maternity ward of a hospital in Chicago.  Fourteen months later a child was found abandoned in New Jersey.  Very limited scientific tests were available at the time to determine paternity.  All the FBI could say was that they could not rule out the possibility that the child found in New Jersey was Paul Fronczak.  So they gave this child to the Fronczak family and considered both cases closed. When he was 10 years old Paul found a box of newspaper clippings about his kidnapping case.  He had never heard about it before.  His parents refused to discuss it with him - ever.  He grew up feeling like he didn't really fit into his family.  He wasn't anything like them. Then in his forties he decided it was time to investigate.  He took a DNA test and convinced his parents to submit samples too.  They later withdrew their consent but he sent their samples in anyway.  This proved that he was not their biological child.  Now he set out to answer two questions. Who was he? What happened to the real baby Paul Fronczak?   This book is a masterclass in the abilities and limitations of DNA analysis.  It investigates the possibilities opened up by databases on the major genealogical websites to answer long standing family mysteries.  (This happened in my husband's family.) What was fascinating to me was the reactions of the people around Paul during his search.  They did not want him to find out the answers to his questions.  I don't understand that at all.  His parents and brother cut all ties with him.  If your child was kidnapped, wouldn't you want to know what happened to him?  Wouldn't you want to know the truth about the child you raised?  I don't see why it would make any difference in your relationship to each other. His wife wanted him to stop searching.  I understand that it was taking up a lot of his time but how could you expect someone not to want to follow the clues he was getting?  Maybe I just hate an unsolved mystery so much that I wouldn't have been able to let it go.  I can't understand people who are insisting that you walk away from it. Reading about his birth family may be hard for some people.  A family situation that ends with dumping a toddler outside a department store is not going to be healthy and functional.  There is a lot of abuse described. He met so many fascinating people along the way.  There were volunteer researchers who worked on his case.  He met distant relatives identified through DNA who dug into their own family histories to try to find a link to him.  He met other abandoned children who hoped that they would turn out to be the missing Fronczak child. The book is not able to give definitive answers to all the questions that it raises but he does have a pretty good idea of what happened in his life and the life of his parents' biological child at the end.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves genealogy and the science of genetic genealogy to see how it works in real life.This review was originally posted on Based On A True Story

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I wanted to read this book because my husband was contacted about sharing his DNA results with Paul Fronczak's genealogists during their search for his identity. As it turned out, Paul and my husband share a great-great-great grandfather on my husband's paternal grandmother's side (add one more great for Paul since he is in a different generation). It's hard to imagine the feelings adoptees have, not knowing their biological parents, medical history, or why they were given up, but this case takes I wanted to read this book because my husband was contacted about sharing his DNA results with Paul Fronczak's genealogists during their search for his identity. As it turned out, Paul and my husband share a great-great-great grandfather on my husband's paternal grandmother's side (add one more great for Paul since he is in a different generation). It's hard to imagine the feelings adoptees have, not knowing their biological parents, medical history, or why they were given up, but this case takes it to a whole new level. I was fascinated about the process used by professional genealogists to pinpoint exactly where on the genome lines cross and how geography comes into play. Not great literature, but a very interesting read about the process of DNA research, and one man's struggle to find out who he is and what happened to him.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Abby mamacos

    I found this book fascinating. I am adopted and have had my DNA tested by a company called 23ANDMe . This is one of the companies used to trace this authour's identity. I have not had much luck , however I have found that I am related by DNA (as a third cousin) to someone who I have known my whole life to be a first cousin through my adoption. It has helped me by identifying my major lineage being mostly French, German and Scandinavian. I was born and raised in SOUTH AFRICA . It also alerted me I found this book fascinating. I am adopted and have had my DNA tested by a company called 23ANDMe . This is one of the companies used to trace this authour's identity. I have not had much luck , however I have found that I am related by DNA (as a third cousin) to someone who I have known my whole life to be a first cousin through my adoption. It has helped me by identifying my major lineage being mostly French, German and Scandinavian. I was born and raised in SOUTH AFRICA . It also alerted me to some really critical medical conditions one of which saved my life. SPOILER 🚨 ALERT: I have long held the belief that maybe it's best not to find out who my biological family are. It can really open up a can of worms you don't necessarily want to deal with. If I had found what this author found, I would have been devastated!

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