What Do I Call Myself?
For just about all my life, I’ve been called Paul. It’s the only name I can remember being called. Back in the mid 1960s, Paul was the 16th most popular boy’s name. Today, it is only the 244th most popular name for a boy. Still, it’s a great name and there have been many great Pauls—Paul Newman; Paul McCartney; Paul Bunyan.
But for me, I’ve just never felt like a Paul.
I know that sounds strange, but it’s true—I’ve always had a feeling that I wasn’t really a Paul. The name just never felt right for me. Eventually I found out that Paul wasn’t my actual given name. In fact, I had three different first names by the time I was three years old.
There is the name my birth parents gave me—Jack. Then there is the name a foster family gave me after I was abandoned on a street in New Jersey—Scott. And then, after the FBI concluded I was the kidnapped Baby Fronczak and handed me over to Dora and Chester Fronczak, I became Paul.
And that’s how I lived my life—I was Paul Fronczak. Even after I took a DNA test that proved I wasn’t the kidnapped baby, I kept the name, because what else could I do? It was on my driver’s license, my social security card, my cell phone bill. But the truth is, Paul Fronczak is someone else’s name. I feel like I have been borrowing it for a few decades.
One website that features updates about my case even refers to me as “non-Paul-Fronczak.” I don’t mind being called that on a website, but I can’t imagine putting it on my driver’s license.
So what am I supposed to do? Keep calling myself Paul? Or switch to Jack? Or maybe even Scott? What about Paul Jack? Or Jack Paul? Or do I start over completely and just pick a brand new name?
I’ve given the matter some thought, but I know I will have to think about it a lot more. For one thing, changing my name is going to be a difficult process legally. I have two different official birth certificates, and sorting through all the issues and paperwork involved is going to take a while.
But I also feel the name I choose will be important psychologically. It will affect how I work through all the details about my past that I have unearthed, and also how I approach my future. So I feel it’s a really important decision. I just don’t know what to do yet. I don’t really know what my name should be.
What do you think? Let me know if you have an opinion. And thank you, as always, for following my story.
Paul (or maybe Jack?)