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The Foundling

The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me
Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Foundling tells the incredible and inspiring true story of Paul Fronczak, a man who recently discovered via a DNA test that he was not who he thought he was - and set out to solve two 50-year-old mysteries at once. Along the way he upturned the genealogy industry, unearthed his family's deepest secrets, and broke open the second longest cold case in US history, all in a desperate bid to find out who he really is.

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 50 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 definitively that he was 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.

This is the story of Paul's heart-wrenching and tortuous journey to solve both mysteries and finally learn the truth about his identity.

The Foundling tells the incredible and inspiring true story of Paul Fronczak, a man who recently discovered via a DNA test that he was not who he thought he was - and set out to solve two 50-year-old mysteries at once. Along the way he upturned the genealogy industry, unearthed his family's deepest secrets, and broke open the second longest cold case in US history, all in a desperate bid to find out who he really is.

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 50 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 definitively that he was 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.

This is the story of Paul's heart-wrenching and tortuous journey to solve both mysteries and finally learn the truth about his identity.

The Foundling is a touching and inspiring story about a child lost and 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.

©2017 Paul Joseph Fronczak and Alex Tresniowski (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What listeners say about The Foundling

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Basically a genealogy

This story if fine, it was entertaining enough to want to know what would happen and i finished it which indicates it was not boring. It is essentially a description of a complex genealogy, not my thing but if it was this book would be great. performed well. couldn't help finding the author selfish and searching for something outside himself that can only be found inside himself but this made it no less compelling.

1 person found this helpful

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tragic all round

amazing story.. so sad .. lots of victims.. was very complicated and convoluted with many family names and peoples names in the story which made it hard to keep up with if too long was left between listening to the chapters where is Jill??

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How can this be true?

This is an amazing story, even more so because the story is true. Tragic, but true. I felt it was too long winded though and found all the very long winded descriptions of DNA seemed to go on an on and on. It was well out of my understanding and after I while I found I was mentally switching off until the story progressed onto something else. It is sad what was done to the central characters in this story, both the children and the parents and I hope all concerned can find peace in the future. I also think the narrator was the wrong choice.

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Angst ad nauseam

This would have been a good story if the author didn't give us the intimate emotional reaction at every setback. The emotional became so gruelling that I lost track of the actually story.

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Sunrise

This story had me captured trying to find the answer to two puzzles. I was left somewhat frustrated that all the answers had not been found. I wait to see whether a sequel is written with some answers about what happened to the stolen baby.

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Awesome Awesome Awesome

I loved everything about this book it had me from start to finish I just couldn't put it down.

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Amazing Determination despite All.

Some People like Paul/Simon/Jack have exhaustive stories.
A message for Paul/Simon/Jack 'you are a being with many names. You are all identities all rolled into one. A truly amazing soul who faced every truth. Be Free now believing this.'

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So worth hearing! So well-read, all absorbing...

This would be my favourite Audible book, so far. The narrator's voice is so easy to listen to. This true life story is well-told, honest and it draws you in; you care so much about the people involved. You empathise with them. I so wanted to know what happened to Paul. I'd highly recommend this book to you. It's left me humble and touched my soul. 🕊

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Family secrets - an intriguing tale with twists and turns

All families have their secrets. This is a very moving book which I enjoyed thoroughly. We will never truly understand what may have motivated Paul's parents to abandon him.
Like it or not as humans we have a drive to find our biological parents which can sometimes be painful, sometimes a happy event. With the help of some dna detectives and great genealogy site Paul takes us on his adventure and shares his ups and downs as he discovers more about his identity. I highly recomend this story.

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Great story

Really interesting story, however I wasn't a fan of the narration. It's strange listening to an autobiography not read by the author, with the narrator putting on voices and having different emotional intimations in his voice when the story is not his. The emotion is not his, so I found it awkward to listen to at times which detracted from the story. It also wasn't very well done so detracted even further. I should have just read it rather than listened.

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  • OUChris
  • 04-04-2017

Prepare yourself for a journey that will take you to shocking places!

Warning: You won't get past chapter 1 without being hooked and pulled into this man's unexpected journey. Just know ahead of time that once you start listening, the next 11 hours of your life will be spent with Kirby Heyborne in your ear (narrating this so masterfully) because you will not be able to stop listening.

If you love a good mystery, if you love journalistic writing, if you love true crime, if you love genealogy or history, if you love twists and turns and if you love saying "what the f*ck" out loud in disbelief/horror, you will love this book.

It's an unbelievable story from start to finish. Paul's continual honesty about his shortcomings and fragility and the brutally raw truth about dark questions surrounding his genetics ground this book. I have yet to rate a book on Audible and I've been an avid listener for 2 years. I have never felt *this* compelled to rate/review a book.

Giving credit where credit is due! Paul, Alex and Kirby hit this one out of the park!




36 people found this helpful

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  • Andrea
  • 03-10-2019

I expected to like this more than I did...

The concept is an interesting one, but the execution fell flat. As background, I got into genetic genealogy in about 2011 when I had a surprise result show up on a DNA test. Through DNA testing and research on my side, I managed to figure out the truth...that I was donor conceived and I have 13 half-siblings. This is all information made discoverable by DNA testing and research that wasn't possible when my own parents were alive. Paul seems to put in zero effort into his own quest - he relies entirely on others to do the legwork and his constant litany of complaints and pity parties is wearisome. In my perspective, if I can do this research, it can't be overbearingly hard for others to attempt. to. something. He won't even make a financial contribution to it; he just waited for people to come to him and offer help. The types of testing and slow unfold make this seem like it took eons, but from when he first tested until he has some answers I think it may have been a shorter time than it took me. Again...I'm no genius. He talks about CeCe (Moore) only having a few tests left to send out...dude, if you want to find out the information, buy them and send them. It's a simple online purchase. His entitlement and inaction and willingness to entirely rely on others to do the work and the constant self-obsessed woe-is-me made me turn on him about 1/3 of the way through. The issue with that is, the story has the opportunity to be fascinating. Maybe it was the telling that turned me off.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kathy
  • 10-07-2018

A true story which reads like a mystery

My daughter recommended this book to me. Her husband has been on a quest to find his adoptive parents. He loves his adoptive family, but medical concerns have led him to investigate. Like Franczek he was able to locate some family members. This story is fascinating as it doesn't wrap everything up neatly. Paul was kidnapped a day and a half after birth from a Chicago hospital in 1964. He was (or at least they thought it was him) some 13 months later. As he grew up he felt like he didn't belong with his family, though he loved them.His story of search and discovery is fascinating. Not all his questions were answered; he is still searching for some things. But it kept me and my husband listening during a long driving trip. The narrator did a good job; he was straightforward and easy to follow. We highly recommend this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • dd
  • 05-07-2018

Wow what a story!

Not only an incredible story, but it is very well told. The reader is excellent too. I will be following this story as it continues to develop. The author has a blog etc.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrea A. Lewand
  • 20-03-2018

Spellbound

Wow! My emotions went from Goosebumps to tears to laughter. Great book. I recommend highly

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gillian
  • 16-04-2017

Dream Teams Chasing A Nightmare

I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to live the life of Paul Joseph Fronczak. From feeling like "The Other" in a family he discovered not to be his own, to finding the nightmare of his real family roots, this is a story of deep and dark secrets, of choices made in unthinkable circumstances. It's a story of people who devoted themselves to his cause, veritable Dream Teams in genealogy, crackers of code, people hunters extraordinaire.
It's a fairly non-stop listen, and Fronczak is a driven man whose story is sure to haunt and inspire. My only problem is that he, in his search/obsession, starts abandoning his own family, leaving his daughter to feel perhaps as unattached as he once felt.
His findings shed light on his ability to distance and detach without emotion, but one has to ask: How much is heredity, how much is environment, and how much is personal choice? Still, it's a darkly compelling story, still unraveling, still evolving.

25 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jessica
  • 28-06-2017

Dragged out. Overly dramatic style.

The events in this book were fascinating and horrifying, however I felt like I could have read a 10 min article and got everything I needed about the story. Personally I didn't like the authors style and felt like he was trying to hype up every little detail, as if it was an episode of dramatic TV. Which would have been more enjoyable. If you're interested in this story I recommend you spend 15 mins googling the events and save yourself hours of listening.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Kathy in CA
  • 20-04-2017

I Was Totally Engulfed By This True Story

Some of my most intense interests are genealogy, the search for one's ancestors, and the after effects of the adoption process and its varying effects on people. This book seemed right up my alley and once I learned of it, I grabbed it and started listening immediately.

The author has an unusual and totally unique story to tell. He was kidnapped from a hospital as a newborn, then later abandoned in front of a store, and subsequently returned to his parents. Or is this what really happened? He certainly never felt he fit in to his family. In middle age, he could no longer stand to wonder about who he was, why he behaved as he did, and did he really belong to these parents?

Paul Fronczak subsequently embarked on a long journey to find out the truths he had pondered much of his life. It was a three year journey that all but consumed him. It put his relationship with his parents and his marriage in jeopardy, in addition to his relationship with his beloved young daughter.

Join him in his book, feel the ups and downs, the sheer horror and excitement at what he learned, things he never dreamed of or even speculated on. From my own personal experience, once you open yourself up to learning your family's deep dark buried secrets, it is a trip from which you cannot turn back. It can be filled with incredibly amazing breakthroughs but also with disbelief and utter disappointment or even horror at the behaviors of those very ancestors you are so keen to learn about. Whether it is good or bad news, it is always eye-opening and can be very exciting.

Kirby Heyborne gave a great narration. He 'became' the author. He was wonderful.

I felt swallowed up by Paul Fronczak's story, his almost fanatical search for the truth of his existence, his tenacity, and his reactions to what he learned. I finished the book in two days. It is still playing in my mind in such a way that I am not ready to even contemplate my next read yet.

18 people found this helpful

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  • sT cW
  • 25-04-2018

Intriguing story of perseverance and hope

Story line is brilliant with so much detail of the search for whom Paul really was. The selfless help of so many others makes one realise how essential people and relations are in ones life. Once you step on that road to find yourself I guess that what you have at that point in time, will just be pushed away together with "i will deal with it later" . Paul had become so self absorbed in his search to find out who and what he is, and it is kind of hard to understand it all, because I have actually no idea how he really felt, even though he is very good in explaining the anguish he went through. I think it is just to big and overwhelming to comprehend. It seems like a bush fire out of control. What I admire the most is their perseverance. Backlash after backlash and yet at least one of this remarkable team got up, if not all, and continued the search. This is a book of hope although one has to realise majority of abandoned and adopted children will never have the means and time to track down their ancestors. But I am very happy for Paul and hopes he will find peace and forgiveness and most of all be able to love someone again.

2 people found this helpful

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  • JoJo
  • 06-06-2017

You just can't stop listening!

Not only is this story captivating, but it is well written and narrated. Your mind won't wonder off even for a minute.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Cat James
  • 14-05-2020

fascinating but long winded

it was a very interesting story with lots of facts and depth. but it did go on a bit in the middle. also, it's a little disappointing how it ended...but that is real life after all.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A
  • 04-10-2019

Great story

Amazing story but the narrator was terrible. Honestly, he should only be reading children's or fictional stories. It was really not good.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-03-2019

Great book

Listen in my car and kept on making excuses to go for s drive like a book you can’t put down- feel I need to know more

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-12-2018

Very intriguing story told in way too much detail... became very tedious... and extremely poor narration... robotic and monotone

I was really looking forward to hearing it, having heard it being discussed on the radio, but was very relieved when I got to the end.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • louise joubert
  • 19-04-2018

too wordy

too descriptive of irrelevants facts like who was sitting where while they drank coffee. very complicated topic with regard to DNA strands etc.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MarionC
  • 11-05-2017

a lost family

as a family historian, i realise the difficulties and frustrations of brick walls. the researchers involved did a fabulous job. at times the story was a little long winded but kept me listening

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Becca.
  • 21-11-2019

Disapointed.

Not my cup of tea. I found it boring at times, tried very hard to get into the story but I failed. Sorry.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • DonnaD
  • 16-11-2019

Gripping story.

Very sad story, I hope all who are lost will one day be found eventually.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs. Kay Murphy
  • 27-08-2019

Unstoppable listening

I loved this fascinating story. Would love an update of any further developments 4 years on

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • IndyCurl
  • 07-03-2019

great story, well read

This is an extraordinary story. No doubt about it. The narration is good, and takes you along that rollercoaster very well. Good pacing.