UNKNOWN FATHER, you have a 1-week-old daughter. UNKNOWN FATHER, you have a 13-year-old son. UNKNOWN FATHER, you have a newborn whose mother has six other children; none of them lives with her. UNKNOWN FATHER, your 1-year-old has been found with an ankle burn and such hunger pains that when she was finally fed, she did not stop to chew. UNKNOWN FATHER, your child’s mother has told social workers she “has problems remembering where she leaves her baby.”

The capital letters shout, as if in fury and frustration, as if the legal announcements’ bold-faced, double-spaced type could roar beyond the confines of the clerk’s office, where the few people who see these documents are the court employees tacking them up and the lawyers who double-check that they’ve been posted.
. . .
UNKNOWN FATHER, the postings cry to no one, you are hereby notified.

Notes of Despair: On a D.C. Court Bulletin Board, Pleas for Vanished Parents And Stories of Foster Kids’ Damaged Worlds Come to Life,” by Darragh Johnson, The Washington Post, March 4, 2007

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