One Colorado girl found a picture of herself labeled as a missing child on milk carton while grocery shopping with her stepfather.
Bonnie Lohman was 7 years old when she stumbled upon the upsetting image some time in the 1980s, 99 Percent Invisible reports.
At the time, she could not read and didn't understand what the words “Missing Child” posted above her photo meant.
As it turns out, at age 3, her mother and stepfather had abducted her from her biological father. She spent the next few years with them, living in various shacks, from Hawaii to Saipan.
Oddly, her stepfather bought that milk, and also let Bonnie cut her photo out and keep it.
He made her promise to keep it a secret, but authorities discovered it after she left the photo at a neighbor's home.
The police immediately called Bonnie’s biological father and the two were reunited.
Although 5 billion milk cartons included pictures of missing children in the 1980s, Lohman’s case was one of the few successful ones.
The milk carton campaigns did have some effect, helping raise awareness and contribute to the Missing Children Assistance Act.
The program was discontinued in the mid-1980s and later replaced with the far more successful Amber Alert system, Canarsie Courier reports.
“In our eyes, the Milk Carton Campaign was highly visible whereby children were found and hundreds of families were impacted,” said co-founder and treasurer of Operation Lookout Melody Gibson. “To our knowledge, this effective public service announcement was removed from public view following media stories about a couple of mothers worrying that their children would look at their school lunchtime milk carton and assume they, too, could become a victim of a child abduction.”
She added, “While this erroneous notion had no historic merit, it was negative enough that eventually the donor milk companies stepped back and eventually the project dissolved.”
Authorities believed the milk carton campaign was triggering mental health issues among children, with some kids saying they were scared by seeing the milk cartons at school.