Paul Fronczak’s journey of loss and discovery documented in new film

National News

MYSTERY WIRE — A true-life story with more twists and turns than a dime store mystery novel is about the debut as a feature film.

The saga of Paul Fronczak’s history began with a simple DNA test. The results upended the lives of three families as a middle-aged man discovered he wasn’t the person he grew up believing himself to be.

It was nine years ago when Paul Fronczak approached KLAS-TV with his strange tale. “We started this journey 2012,” Fronczak said. “It’s been nine really heartbreaking, exciting years. And I have no regrets at all. There’s been times where it’s been beyond dark. But never once did I say, I should have never started this. Because you know that something isn’t true, you just can’t continue with that lie. Because living a lie isn’t living at all. So you have to keep digging.”

The DNA test revealed that he wasn’t really Paul Fronczak after all. As a days-old baby, the real Paul was kidnapped from a Chicago hospital, setting off a nationwide manhunt.

Nearly two years later, a toddler found on a sidewalk in New Jersey was shown to the grieving Fronczaks. The couple took him in believing he was their missing son. But the truth was that he wasn’t.

Fronczak no longer knew his own identity, his age, birth date, or what happened to his blood relatives.

Now, a film crew working with CNN has pieced together Fronczak’s twisted tale and will premiere “The Lost Sons” documentary September 26.

Looking back on his journey Fronczak has this piece of advice, “I encourage anyone that has any question or doubt about their own identity to start digging, start their own journey. I’ve learned that the truth can be devastating. And you’re not always going to find a fairy tale. Sometimes you’re going to find a monster. But at least you know it’s a real monster and is something that you can live with.”

Fronczak said he is now working on a follow-up book to his 2018 book “The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me“. His new book is titled “True Identity” and scheduled for release on December 7.


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George Knapp
Paul, let’s start this way. It’s really been an amazing journey for you the past nine years. Amazing, but also painful. And I wonder, looking back on it now, was there ever a time when you said to yourself, I shouldn’t have just stayed Paul Fronczak and forget this whole thing about being someone else?

Paul Fronczak
You know, George, thanks to you, we started this journey 2012. It’s been nine really heartbreaking, exciting years. And I have no regrets at all. There’s been times where it’s been beyond dark. But never once did I say, I should have never started this. Because you know that something isn’t true, you just can’t continue with that lie. Because living a lie isn’t living at all. So you have to keep digging.

George Knapp
I remember how much you struggled with it. I mean, you wanted to know, you got the DNA test that changed your life, flipped everything upside down, but you really struggled with how to approach your parents. And I recall exactly what it was like when you first broke the news to them, you compose this beautiful letter and explain why you were doing it. And how they reacted. They were hurt. They were upset. They didn’t get it, right?

Paul Fronczak
Yeah. They didn’t talk to me for over a year, almost two years. And I couldn’t understand. One thing I’ve learned on this journey, is that the reaction that you think you’re going to get from people, it’s never what you expect. And the things that might make sense to you are completely off the charts for somebody else. And so I thought my parents would be excited that I wanted to help find their real child. And they took it as I wanted to find new parents, I wasn’t happy with them. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

George Knapp
Can you describe how that part of your quest evolved, your mom and dad, I mean, how they adjusted or didn’t adjust it, the evolution of how the Fronczaks, not only your mom and dad, but others have digested the various twists and turns and developments.

Paul Fronczak
I think we’ve gone through every heavy level of emotion as a family, from not speaking at all to maybe speaking too much. You know, I mean, it’s like, my mom and I have a great relationship now. And I am so thankful for that. I’m just sorry that it couldn’t have happened like that from the beginning. We could have worked, you know, we could have done this journey together.

George Knapp
How did it end with your dad? What was the status when he passed away?

Paul Fronczak
Unfortunately, my dad passed away in 2017. And we weren’t really talking about the story at all. In his eyes, I was Paul, I was his son, and that was it. There’s no need to talk about anything else.

George Knapp
You told them all the way along that you still love them, that it wasn’t about them. It was you know more about you finding out some answers, but you still viewed them as your family, as your your only family. Right?

Paul Fronczak
Yeah, absolutely. I thought that they saved my life in more ways that anyone can ever imagine. And I thought the greatest gift I could give them would be to find their real child to help repay them for giving me the life they gave me.

George Knapp
You’re dropped off on a street corner, by somebody in another town in your birth family that wanted to get you out of harm’s way. I’m sure you’ve thought about, envision what it would have been like, if you had not been taken out of that environment. You might not be here.

Paul Fronczak
Yeah. So it’s like that movie Sliding Doors, right? That one little thing that changes your life changes the whole path for the rest of your life. You know, I can’t imagine any other scenario except growing up with the Fronczaks.

George Knapp
You and the journey, of course, you describe it in your book, The Foundling, right, about how it takes you to get some answers about the birth family, and what the circumstances were there. And it was a it’s such a dark, it’s like a dark soap opera, the things you uncovered. I don’t know how far you want to go in this conversation to talk about it. But there’s a lot of questions that were answered sort of, and a lot of other ones that are still not answered. Right?

Paul Fronczak
Yeah, I think I want the viewers to actually go on the journey by themselves to, to see the movie and then make up their own mind about what really makes family and is it really nature versus nurture? Or what makes us us, and all. There’s so many twists and turns that if it wasn’t my life, and I saw this in a movie, I wouldn’t believe it was real.

George Knapp
Well, you have the book, and now it’s going to be a film. Tell us about the film, what’s in it, what isn’t, about the team that’s developed it and how you feel about how it’s turned out.

Paul Fronczak
Okay, so I got fortunate and I was able to work with Raw Productions, and then CNN Films. And they liked my book, my story, and they thought that it was worth telling to a larger audience. Making the film, it’s been very therapeutic for me. It’s one thing to live a life like that, but then to actually re-experience it again but from a different perspective, I think, you know what everyone in my situation should make a movie and write a book. I think it’s really good. It’s just mind boggling what it can do for you?

George Knapp
Well, it’s it’s an astonishing story. I mean, it almost seems like something you’d have to make up, it couldn’t possibly be true, but it is true of all the twists and turns that it takes, right?

Paul Fronczak
Yeah, I encourage anyone that has any question or doubt about their own identity to start digging, start their own journey. I’ve learned that the truth can be devastating. And you’re not always going to find a fairy tale. Sometimes you’re going to find a monster. But at least you know it’s a real monster and is something that you can live with.

George Knapp
When does the film debut?

Paul Fronczak
It’s gonna debut this Sunday, the 26th, on CNN, 9 p.m. Eastern. So check your your time zones accordingly. But I want everyone to take the journey. And let me know what you think.

George Knapp
How many times have you seen it?

Paul Fronczak
I’ve seen it three times.

George Knapp
Were you able to have a lot of input into edits, in the storyline, things of that sort?

Paul Fronczak
It was it was really cool process, working with Ursula McFarland, she’s a brilliant director. And she really got into my head. And so we got to reenact a lot of things that I went through. And so it wasn’t really about the input. It was about making it for a big screen, I guess.

George Knapp
Well, she’s experienced that that this is the same team that’s made, I want to say similar stories, because there’s no story similar to yours, but they’ve made some intriguing examinations of who we are as people and where we come from, right, with other films they’ve done.

Paul Fronczak
They have. It’s all about the human psyche, human families, love identities. Pretty much in life, all we really have is our identity in our word. And if those two aren’t, aren’t real or not true, what do you really have?

George Knapp
So the film sort of helps you look at this as almost like a bystander, that it’s not about you, you’re able to look at it from an out of body kind of experience. Tell me about the process of making it. Did that film team help you document some things that you didn’t know about? Or help you track down things that you didn’t know?

Paul Fronczak
They did. There’s a lot of things in this film that first hand knowledge to me. And it’s an amazing journey. And that’s all I can say. It’s a roller coaster of just beautiful moments, and really sad, twisted things that you would never imagine.

George Knapp
And what are your hopes for the film? What are you hoping it achieves?

Paul Fronczak
Honestly, George, I hope that it can help someone else, someone else start their journey to find out who they really are. And if I can do that, then I feel I’ve done my job.

George Knapp
I saw the trailer, it’s terrific. It must be weird to see yourself in a trailer like that.

Paul Fronczak
It is, it really is. I just hope that people like it.

George Knapp
So it airs Sunday, and then where does it go from there?

Paul Fronczak
It’s from what I understand it’s gonna stay on CNN for a while, it’s gonna go to the streaming platform. And then from there I have no idea. It was supposed to be a theatrical release, but with with the COVID virus going around, theaters not really opening up, it wasn’t really an option.

George Knapp
Is there a follow up? I mean, I ask it in this sense, both for the book and the movie, because there are so many different fingers of this mystery that you can’t pack it all into one film or one book. So are you working on something else?

Paul Fronczak
Yes, there’s a second book as a follow up to the first book is called True Identity. And it’s going to be out around December 7, it kind of picks up where the first journey ended. So if you like, if you like the story, take that journey again. Hop on that train.

George Knapp
Final question, your Life has completely turned upside down since that journey began. I mean, not only the difficulty with your parents, your brother, the Fronczaks, your marriage, your jobs. I mean, you’ve it’s completely twisted your life, but you’re in a good place, right?

Paul Fronczak
I like how you say jobs. George, I’m in the best place I think anyone could hope to be you know, is every day is a new adventure. I’m just happy to be here.

George Knapp
All right, Paul. Thank you. We look forward to seeing the film.

Paul Fronczak
George, thank you so much. Great to see you.

Interview conducted on Sept. 22, 2021

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