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Journalist: I was adopted from Angel Guardian Home

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Meet a Brooklyn angel!

An orphan adopted from the Angel Guardian Home in Dyker Heights, which is rumored to be going up for sale, has a message for potential buyers: Don’t knock down a piece of history.

“To me the obvious thing would be a school, you have to wonder how structurally sound it is, but from an architectural standpoint, I’d like to see the preservation of the existing structure — it reminds me of a place you’d see in a Charles Dickens novel,” said photojournalist Greg Mango, who was adopted there at 10-months-old in 1966. “I hope that people are careful not to jump into the first deal that comes along.”

The photographer, who regularly graces the pages of the New York Post, credits the orphanage with setting him up for a good life.

It was a cold day in January of 1966 when Gloria and Alfred Mango walked out of the Angel Guardian Home with Greg, a 10-month-old boy they just adopted from the care of the Sisters of Mercy, who ran the orphanage. A half-century later, he has nothing but praise for the Sisters, who he credits with finding him the healthy home he enjoyed.

“When they found Mr. and Mrs. Mango, it was a real windfall for me,” he said. “I don’t know their screening process, but I know they did some financial screening and likely some psychological screening as well — but my upbringing was good by every metric of how a family raises a child.”

Mango does not know his biological mother’s full backstory, but knows she was from Bensonhurst and was in what he called an unstable situation. He had a number of health issues himself, including jaundice and a broken leg, when his mother left him in the Sisters’ care — although he is not sure how that happened.

The Italian-American Mangos originally hailed from Bushwick. Mango is not sure how his parents first connected with the Sisters of Mercy at Angel Guardian Home, but it was likely through the Catholic Church — both his parents grew up in a building just around the corner from St. John the Baptist on Hart Street and were fairly religious.

A year or so after they adopted him, they moved into a neighborhood full of kids his age on Long Island, giving him what he called a “phenomenal” childhood filled with neighborhood stickball games, vacations, and home-cooked meals.

“The only crime I remember was someone breaking into our garage to steal a couple of bikes,” he said.

Five years after adopting Greg, the Mangos went back and adopted his sister from the Angel Guardian Home as well.

Mango moved back to Brooklyn after graduating college — partly to be closer to his grandparents — and has lived in the same Park Slope building ever since, spending some of that time as a photographer for this newspaper. He went back to the Angel Guardian Home sometime in the early aughts for an assignment for this paper but was unable to find any of the Sisters who were around during his short time there five decades ago, he said.

The Sister of Mercy shut down the orphanage at Angel Guardian Home in the 1970s, but continued to run a foster program there. The Sisters can no longer afford to maintain the city block-sized property and plan to sell it in the near future, although the institution has not finalized those plans.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Posted 12:00 am, April 8, 2016
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Reader feedback

Jim C from Formally of Bensonhurst says:
My brother and I were adopted from the Angel Guardian Home in (1966, 1969) when we were only a few months old. We were both very fortunate to be placed with such loving parents who provided such a wonderful childhood for us. It breaks my heart to hear that this historic building which has been doing God's work for so many years, may be taken down and most likely be replaced with condos.
April 8, 2016, 7:47 pm
Gerard McCaffery from Dyker Heights says:
Thanks for the article on Greg Mango's adoption through Angel Guardian Home (AGH). Angel Guardian used to do all the adoptions for the Brooklyn Diocese until the 1970's. We still do 40-50 adoptions a year but nothing like the thousands of adoptions done back then. Not every one was as successful as Mr. Mango's but most were and it is a part of our history that we are very proud of. We still receive 10-15 requests a month from people to see what information we have in our files that we can share.

As noted in a prior story, the buildings and grounds have been around since 1899. The Sisters of Mercy have done their best to maintain this site but they cost far more to maintain than they can afford. The mission and work of Angel Guardian, now known as MercyFirst, will continue even after we re-locate our staff, offices and adoption records from AGH to a new site yet-to-be determined. However, nothing will take the place of this site and the buildings that are filled with so many memories.

If anyone who was adopted through AGH wants to visit or inquire about what information we may have in our files that we can share, please contact Sr. Margaret Dempsey at MDempsey@mercyfirst.org and she will do her best to help. Follow us on Facebook https://business.facebook.com/AngelGuardianHomeBrooklyn

Gerard McCaffery
President/CEO
MercyFirst
April 11, 2016, 11:20 am
AnnaMarie says:
My Dad was in the Angel Guardian Home after being given up to the state by his Mother. He went there at about 2years old in 1933 and stayed until about 1938 when he was then sent to Mt Loretta Catholic Orphanage in Staten Island where he lived until he was about 16yrs. I would love to go to see where he lived in Brooklyn if it is still there and find out if they have any info they can share with me. Considering the life my Dad had growing up he is a Wonderful father and person! Any info anyone can share with me about Angel Guardian from back in the 30's I would greatly appreciate!
April 11, 2016, 12:42 pm
Gerard McCaffery from Dyker Heights says:
The Angel Guardian Campus is still here! As noted above, if you want to visit or inquire about what information we may have in our files that we can share about your father, please contact Sr. Margaret Dempsey at MDempsey@mercyfirst.org and she will do her best to help. In addition, you can also follow us on Facebook https://business.facebook.com/AngelGuardianHomeBrooklyn

Gerard McCaffery
President/CEO
MercyFirst
April 11, 2016, 6:05 pm
annmarie from gravesend says:
amazing i am 58 yrs old and never knew that orphanage exsisted,i hope they dont tear it down as i would consider it. historic
April 13, 2016, 5:53 am
Roseann from Dyker says:
This building cannot be torn down. I would consider it a landmark. Any other facility would pose a significant traffic and safety problem in this area. I hope that some how the nuns can remain where they are and other options could make that possible. Don't allow this piece of history to be lost. Please let me know if there is anything that can be done to stop this from happening!
Oct. 4, 2016, 2:34 pm
Mary Wysocki from Richmond VA says:
I don't know if this is where my adoptive family picked me up from when they took me into their home as a foster child. I didn't have a happy life with them. They had no clue how to work with a special needs child and didn't really seek help from the agency. I grew up being abused and neglected by them, and now want nothing to do with them. I am the oldest and only girl out of 9(yes I said 9) children. One of my brothers died as a baby before he was 2. I have another brother who also has mental health issues. My birth name if it is really what it is would be Litwin. I also know that one of my brothers was put up for adoption, but it was never finalized.
Nov. 11, 2016, 11:12 am
paula from Formerly Dyker Hts says:
From 1940 to 1954 I lived on 65th street and 12th avenue. We "played" with the orphans when they closed 63rd street for that purpose. We were totally fascinated by this beautiful building and the children that lived there. Zoned for row houses? Really! That building should be preserved by the historical society. A really beautiful piece of Brooklyn history. The church needs to step up and not demolish this place that means so much to so many.
Jan. 1, 2017, 9:14 pm
linda ruggiero says:
when i was in high school we use to go to orphage to see the children i became close with a 5 yr old little girl maria i gave her a locket to always remember me always in my heart little maria

linda ruggiero
April 27, 2017, 8:10 am
Jennifer from Bensonhurst says:
Looking for Kathleen and Debra gibbons adopted out of there
Nov. 18, 2017, 10:34 pm
Elaine Buff from Queens NY says:
I worked at the Angel Guardian home back in the 70’s when it was in Jamaica. Does anyone know who was the director back then? He was a heavy set, jolly man!
Aug. 1, 2:26 pm

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