I once read a book titled The Foundling. It is the true story of a man who discovered that he had been kidnapped as a baby. Yet, his quest to find out who he really is shook up the genealogy industry, his own family and set in motion the second longest cold case in US history. It started in 1964, when 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. Paul had long suspected however that he was not that infant.

So, not too long ago, Paul took a DNA test after the birth of his first child, Emma Faith. The test revealed that he definitely was not Paul Fronczak. From that moment on, Paul wanted to find the man whose life he had been living, as well as discover who abandoned him and why.

Now in 2022, hospitals take the situation very seriously and have drills and procedures known as Code Pink.

Recently Jesenea Miron, who is 23 years old, walked into the Riverside University Health System – Medical Center in California. She was allegedly posing as a newly-hired nurse. Miron was able to gain access to a medical unit where newborn infants were present. She then entered a patient’s room and identified herself as a nurse. The Code Pink procedures worked and she is now in custody.

There was a case in 1998, when Gloria Williams walked into a Florida hospital dressed as a nurse. She walked out with a newborn named was Kamiyah Mobley. Williams raised Mobley for 18 years as her own daughter in South Carolina after renaming her Alexis Kelli Manigo.

In the event of a suspected or actual abduction, “Code Pink” is announced loudly over the hospital system if the infant is less than 12 months of age. As more information is developed, up-dated announcements are made. When an infant is suspected or confirmed to be missing, the employee who made the discovery notifies the hospital’s Security Control Center by calling 911.

Out of 325 cases of infant abduction over the past five decades, nearly all of the cases involve a female abductor. In analyzing those abductions, not only do many abductors use similar tactics to steal babies, like dressing as a nurse. Nearly all abductors fit a similar profile. Many women who steal babies do so in a desperate attempt to keep a boyfriend or husband they fear may leave them, if they don’t have a child to bind them together. They are usually of child-bearing age and some may already have children at home. They may pretend to be pregnant, they may have recently lost a baby due to a miscarriage or they suffer from infertility which prevents them from becoming pregnant themselves.

Abandoned Babies

Gary Gatwick

Today, I read the story about the baby that was abandoned in 1986 at the Gatwick Airport.  He was later adopted, had a decent childhood and attempted to locate his birth family after having a child himself.  He has been successful but much like my own mother, discovered that the woman who gave birth to him has died and thus, he’ll never get the answer to the question closest to his heart of “why?”.

Not that long ago, I also read a story titled The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me by Paul Joseph Fronczak.  His was also the story of a search for his authentic roots.

People who are not adopted or abandoned often do not understand why knowing one’s true identity is so important to some of us.  A writer friend of mine once asked – “If the adoptive family was good, why does it matter?”  As I talked to her about it, she came to understand how most people actually take such a deep knowing for granted.  Indeed, many don’t really care about it at all until they are much older, if they ever do.

A piece in the Huffington Post some years ago realized that “this was a shared narrative with no fixed racial or cultural background: my own search for identity, though anchored in part by my own experiences, is part of something larger. It is a collective and contemporary identity crisis.”

Maybe this explains the popularity of DNA testing and the matching sites of Ancestry or 23 and Me.  I also wonder, given the pushback on women’s rights taking place at the moment, if beyond threatening women’s health and autonomy, an unintended consequence could become more abandoned babies . . . and depending on where and when, may result in death.