gallery Dear Adoption, My Name is Franco

2017-12-06 17.19.25

Dear Adoption, My Name is Franco

The name given to me when my birth mother gave me up at birth and sent me to an orphanage was Franco Gerosa. The surname is unremarkable like Smith or Jones. So the only link I have is my Christian name, Franco. I was born in Cagliari Italy on October 16, 1951. Although Franco is a common Italian first name it was my name. I answered to that name when it was time to eat or go to bed; when it was time to go to mass or to play.  Even when I was being punished for doing something I wasn’t suppose to do. I had nothing that belonged to me except my name Franco.

Then it happened. My life was turned upside down. No one told me what was happening, No one explained I was leaving the only life I had known or why. I was told I was going to America to live with a family as their son. What does that mean to a five year old kid who has never had a family? Is this a good thing? Oh yes, you will be so happy.

I came to America on December 4, 1956. Two days later I met my prospective parents. Oh they were so happy to see me as I was the little boy they had hoped for. All I remember is being extremely tired and hungry. Mangier. Mangiare. My prospective father actually spoke Italian and told my new mother I was hungry. My new parents took me to my new home in Pennsylvania and I had to learn all over again what to do and how to do it. The language barrier was a problem at first as my mother didn’t understand me and my father had to translate. Then the rules started. I had to learn to speak their language. I wasn’t allowed to drink coffee black; only with lots of sugar and milk. I had to wear shoes all the time, which turned out to be a problem as I had never worn shoes before and could not walk in them.

Both my new parents came from large families. My fathers family was Italian and my mothers family was Slovenian. So I was displayed like a slightly used car to all my new family. All of this was confusing and frightening enough, but the thing that made me the unhappiest was my name. My new father’s name was Anthony; he went by Tony. Well I was starting a new life so I had to have a new name. Of course my new Christian name would be Anthony, and as a concession I guess my middle name would be Frank. So my new name was Anthony Frank Armen. Since everyone called my dad Tony I was called Tony also. That created it’s own problems; I wasn’t a junior so I was called Tony Frank. I don’t expect you to understand how much I grew to hate being called Tony Frank. When my mother would call me that it was like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. The kids in school would call me Tony Frank out of derision and meaness. I would tell people “just call me Tony”.

I learned to accept my American/Adopted name out of necessity and legality.

But, My Name is FRANCO!!!!

Tony Armen is a retired IT Professional. He is a private citizen who wanted to tell his story for his children and grandchildren. Tony often says being an adoptee affects your life, for your entire life in ways most people don’t understand.



  1. Reblogged this on Gazelle's Scirocco Winds and commented:
    An adult adoptee had his name taken -the only one he knew ro the first five years of his life -by a court and adopters, changed to something I guess one would call ‘Italian -American)… His father, even though he was Italian, like Franco, gave him the name Tony after himself, and to placate the boy (I presume) added Frank so that he became to be called Tony-Frank-not the mor appropriate names in his native Italian Antonio Franco… In adoptions in ‘America’ no one cares what you may wish as an adopte… only the laws which steal a child’s identity and separate him from his DNA family… But although the child, now man, was forced to accept the change of name and the loss of his own culture, now says ‘[ My Name is FRANCO!!! To Franco, I know the feeling only too well having been adopted at age five under much different circumstances. 13 years before you… Buongiorno, Franco!!!! Take your name back, my friend. Even after these years. It is your right to do so. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your history. As an adoptee, I honor your experience and how it has impacted your life. Several details that you described were especially moving to me, based on my experience of being adopted as an infant by a family that was kind and that abundantly provided for me–but I never felt like I fit in, or like it I was “real” or like I belonged anywhere.

    You wrote:
    “I don’t expect you to understand how much I grew to hate being called Tony Frank. When my mother would call me that it was like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.”
    To this day, as an adult, I get a knot in my stomach every time someone says my name aloud. Although it is the only name I have ever known, it doesn’t feel like my name. I don’t know what name would. It is hard to explain this phenomena to most people I know.

    You also wrote: “I learned to accept my American/Adopted name out of necessity and legality.” I can appreciate how self-preservation (“necessity and legality”) is a priority for a child navigating a traumatic situation alone. I also understand now, looking back, how that focus on self-preservation delayed my full development of a sense of self, which is a basic building block of so many milestones in childhood/ adolescence/young adulthood.

    Even though I am an adoptee who wholeheartedly agrees with your assertion that “being an adoptee affects your entire life in ways most people don’t understand,” your writing helped me understand my own experience more profoundly. Thank you so much for sharing how being an adoptee affected your life, and for helping me see myself in your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very touching story, Franco. I cannot imagine what it was like to have such major adjustments at the age of five! I’m wondering if you ever learned about your first mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awww!! I loved this!! I’m so happy that you chose to speak up Franco!!

    Its so hard and most don’t realize it’s a life long struggle and if those who wish choose to come out of the fog and address the pain…holy crap. I had no idea what it was going to be like but now…I’d rather live in the light and the truth than have it all shoved away to take with me to my grave. Much love!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Franco have you ever heard about Italiadoption? It’s an association run by an italian-american adoptee like you John P. Campitelli. He is reuniting many adoptees with their biological families. Let me know if you are interested in this point.


  6. Franco! Thank you for writing this. I related strongly with your story. I hated my adoptive first name and reclaimed my birth right years ago. It’s a bit of work but well worth it, wanted to encourage you in case it was something you secretly wanted, it is well within your legal rights to reclaim your name. If you want to.


  7. Franco-
    Thank you for sharing your story. I have a dear uncle who was also adopted from an orphanage in Cagliari, Sardinia. He has been searching for any information about his birth family. Were you able to track your information down?


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