Unknown Father: Your baby needs you

On the bulletin board of the Washington, D.C. unit that searches for parents of abandoned and neglected children are “notes of despair,” reports the Washington Post.

UNKNOWN FATHER, you have a 6-month-old girl who was born HIV-positive with cocaine in her veins. Her mother has abandoned her. The people in whose care she was left had no idea, for days, how to give her the “several medications” required to treat her HIV.

UNKNOWN FATHER, you have a newborn son whose schizophrenic mother ditched him at the hospital and moved into a Travelodge in Northeast. She told the social worker who found her: The baby’s father was ” ‘Nino’ from ‘the Bronx’ who was ‘not dark’ and who could be reached by contacting ‘Chief Ramsey.’ ”

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.”

If the mother provides a name, the father usually can be found. But some say they don’t know who’s the father or never knew his last name.

About Joanne


  1. And we need these unknown fathers why? To sterilise them, perhaps?

  2. To sue them for child support.

  3. I suppose also to sign over their parental rights so the children they provided the sperm for (I am not going to call a man who abandons a mother and baby a “father”) so there aren’t any bizarre, bad, and sad surprises for the potential adoptive families.

    Although I have to admit I kind of like jack’s idea…

    I suspect a big reason for the notes, though, is to try to reintroduce a little bit of the concept of “shame” for doing things you ought not to, which I think is a concept whose time has come again.

  4. Isn’t it simply a legal requirement before parental rights are terminated? So even though these loser can’t or won’t be found, the rights can be severed after a period of advertising for the “father,” even without their signing off?

    Sometimes though these reminders point out just how tragically disadvantaged some babies start out. Contrast these “parents” with those in the post about parents rejected from preschool.