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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,697 ratings  ·  360 reviews
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
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Howard Books
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  2,697 ratings  ·  360 reviews

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Start your review of The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
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
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
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
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-biography
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 ...more
Davyne DeSye
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Katie Larson
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
(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:

And ye
Leigh McInnes
It started as a 5 stars but after half way through it dragged and became too long and detailed.
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
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 ...more
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
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
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Angel Hench
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Candi Hadley
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.

Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A well written, page turner about a real life mystery. The story was surprising on every level.
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
♥ 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
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Dara S.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it

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
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Abby mamacos
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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Rolla Public Libr...: The Foundling - August 2019 7 9 Aug 14, 2019 07:30PM  

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