SUSQUEHANNA DEPOT, SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It is a story that has been 75 years in the making.
With the help of a recent change in Pennsylvania law, a man in Oklahoma recently was able to track down several brothers and a sister currently living in Susquehanna County.
When the phone rings at the Schell house in Susquehanna borough, there is now a little more urgency to answer it.
“We have a lot of catching up to do, I know that!” John Schell of Susquehanna said.
John Schell, his brother Joe and sister Janet only recently found out they have a long lost sibling, an older brother.
“I used to be number two. Now I’m number three!” Joe Schell said with a laugh.
Right before their mother Grace died in 2010, she told a secret she’d been keeping for decades.
“She called me over and she said I have something to tell you and I asked her what and she said you have another brother,” Janet Fabrizi of Susquehanna said.
There was shock, surprise and even confusion.
Joe, John and Janet and a fourth sibling Judy (who lives out of state) all tried searching.
They got nowhere.
That is until the phone rang one day in January.
On the other line was Tony Tortorici who lives near Tulsa, Oklahoma.
As it turns out, he was searching for them too.
“Wow. After all these years, I’ve finally found my family!” Tony Tortorici of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma said.
Tony Tortorici was born at the Saint Joseph Orphanage in Dunmore in 1942.
He calls himself a “war baby.”
His mother put him up for adoption.
It wasn’t until Tony Tortorici’s adoptive parents died that he started searching for his biological parents.
Tortorici hired a lawyer but hit roadblocks too. A change in Pennsylvania law that went into effect in November was the breakthrough he needed.
“That change allowed us as adoptees in Pennsylvania to get our actual birth certificate. That’s what this is!” Tortorici said.
Within moments, Tony learned his actual birth name: Charles Joseph Ficarro.
“You’re a Tortorici for 75 years and all of a sudden you’re a Ficarro,” Tony Tortorici said. “Very wierd!”
Through social media, Tony tracked down his siblings in Susquehanna County and made the first call to reconnect in January.
“He asked, how does it feel to have an older brother? My response was, how does it feel to have a younger brother?” John Schell said.
There was instance acceptance.
“I can’t wait to meet him. He was part of my mother so he’s part of us!” Janet Fabrizi said.
“Now I feel like we’re all complete!” John Schell said.
The siblings now talk by phone on a weekly basis.
Tony Tortorici plans to visit northeastern Pennsylvania and meet his siblings for the first time in June.
“This seemed to be a perfect union. It is what it is and I believe it was blessed to be!” Tony Tortorici said.
Tony Tortorici was educated in New York by his adoptive family. He moved to Oklahoma for a job.
As a big train buff, when he visits northeastern Pennsylvania, Tony and his family may visit the Nicholson Viaduct and even the Steamtown National Historic Site.