Broken Arrow man finds biological family at 75-years-old

Posted at 10:28 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 13:05:22-04

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. -- A man living in Broken Arrow found his biological family at 75 years old. 

Tony Tortorici was born in an orphanage in Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1940s. He called himself a war baby. His mother gave him up for adoption. 

"She, I guess, was shamed into being an unwed mother and having a child and they kind of sent her away to the St. Joseph's Center," Tortorici said. 

He was adopted at the age of three by the Tortoricis. 

Tortorici has been married for more than 50 years. He has four kids, seven grandchildren and four great grand children.

The now 75-year old said it was not until his adoptive parents died that he started digging to find his biological family. 

He hit road blocks but that made him become more aggressive in his search. 

"I knew there had to be a way forward," Tortorici said. 

It was not until a change in the law in Pennsylvania in November that he was able to get his birth certificate. He found out his actual name was Charles Joseph Ficarro. 

"Sure, you're a Tortorici for 75 years and all of the sudden you are a Ficarro," Tortorici said. "Very weird."

He learned his mother passed away in 2010. His father's name was not on the birth certificate.

Through Facebook, he was able to find his siblings Joe, Janet, John and Judy. 

In January of this year, Tortorici spoke to his siblings for the first time. 

"He said, 'How does it feel to have an older brother?'" John Schell, Tortorici's brother said. "My response was, 'How does it feel to have a younger brother?'"

"You don't know what to expect on the other end of the line," Tortorici said. "I'm sure John was as hesitant as I was, but once we started communicating to one another and realized 'Wow this is for real.'" 

They talked for an hour that night. Tortorici said he went to bed feeling relieved. 

Turns out, Tortorici's birth mother told her other children about him on her death bed. Since then, they had been looking for him, too. 

"If you knew my mother and how much she loved and cared for us... I just can't imagine what she had to go through to give Tony up for adoption," Joe Schell, Tortorici's brother said.

The siblings talk on the phone, email and chat on Facebook weekly to learn more about one another. 

This June, Tortorici and his wife, Jo, are heading up to Pennsylvania to meet in person. 

John Schell said their family is now complete. 

"We have a lot of catching up to do. I know that," John Schell said. 

"I think we have fostered a relationship and I think it is growing deeper all the time," Tortorici said. 

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