NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Imagine not knowing your real name, or who your birth parents are, or even your age. For one man, this is reality.
Paul Fronczak has had two names during his life, neither is his own.
“I don’t know why, but it really started consuming my thoughts, like ‘who am I?'” he told CBS 2 investigative reporter Tamara Leitner.
The mystery began at the since-demolished Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago in 1964. Chester and Dora Fronczak had given birth to a baby boy named Paul Joseph Fronczak.
“Sixteen hours later the nurse comes in — someone dressed like a nurse — and tells my mom, well, tells Mrs. Fronczak, that the doctor needs to see the baby,” Paul explained.
The woman walked out the back door of the hospital with the baby in her arms. A nationwide manhunt ensued, and the FBI looked at 10,000 different children.
Two-and-a-half years passed before a baby was found abandoned in a stroller on a Newark, N.J., street corner. The child was taken to an orphanage and given the name Scott McKinley. Eventually the FBI came in and made a decision that would impact a number of lives.
“The FBI decided that because my ears matched the Fronczak baby, that I was probably the Fronczak baby,” Paul said.
Because the Fronczaks didn’t have proof that Paul was their child, they had to adopt him. Years passed by and the kidnapping and the adoption were never mentioned in the Fronczak home.
“I found a box of these newspaper clippings. Headlines. It was all about me, I was kidnapped,” Paul explained.
Fronczak confronted his parents, but they divulged very few details.
“It was like, ‘you don’t need to see that; you are our son,'” he said.
As Fronczak got older he began to wonder why he didn’t look like his Polish and Croatian parents. Eventually, he moved to Henderson, Nev., got married, and decided that he needed to know the truth.
A series of DNA tests revealed that he was not the Fronczak baby. Everything that Paul once thought to be true, was not.
After receiving the test results he wrote a letter to his parents and tried to explain the unexplainable.
“They will always be my parents. Great people. Raised me the way I am today,” he said.
But, questions remain. Why did Paul’s parents abandon him on a Newark street, and what happened to the real Paul Fronczak?
“I just think it would be really cool, if we actually found the real kidnapped baby. It would be nice to have a happy ending for once,” he said.
Fronczak hopes that the DNA tests will help him find his real biological family.
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