On Craigslist, there’s no shortage of treasures just waiting to be unearthed: you can find Shakeweights, a Batmobile, even black Jesus paintings—OK, that last one not so much. But 19-year-old Natalie Carson is using the site to find something else: a family.
“I am currently a young female college student looking to rent a family that I can spend time with on my birthday in a few weeks. I aged out of foster care and I since was never adopted, I don’t have a family to spend holidays or my birthdays with,” Carson writes in her post, which appeared May 26 and has since been removed.
She explains in the post that after suffering years of abuse at the hands of her biological parents, she spent years in foster homes and has “never had a good birthday.” Her inspiration was “another girl that rented a family from craigslist in California for the holidays.” The Denver-based computer science student and grocery store clerk writes that she is not seeking monetary compensation, instead offering to pay a family $8 per hour for their help.
Though she tells Yahoo parenting she usually just tries to sleep through her birthday and holidays, this year, Carson’s birthday will be different. ABC News 7 Denver reported on Carson’s Craigslist post, and since then she says that she’s been getting inundated with responses to the ad.
“I swear I’m getting four emails a minute now,” Carson says. “I think I’ve gotten more than 1,000 emails.” She has received many messages from families with offers, as well as messages of hope and encouragement and even gift offers. They’ve come from as far as Canada and even Australia, and some have even offered to fly her out to their hometowns to celebrate her birthday.
“It makes me feel really good,” she says. “Now I feel more hopeful about my birthday, and more happy. I feel a bit bad too, though in a way, because I’ll be 40 before I can celebrate my birthday with all of these people. I want to be like, ‘Will you be willing to wait until I’m 40?’”
Her dream birthday bash? Nothing fancy. She says she doesn’t even like fancy dinners or extravagant events, but instead hopes for a small get-together with cake and balloons outdoors. “I just want something low-key,” she says.
And as for the countless generous offers that Carson won’t be able to accept, she says it motivates her to help others who have been in foster care or are otherwise underprivileged. She has already requested that people writing with offers of money instead donate the funds toward helping children in foster care.
“Seeing everyone wanting to help me has made me more motivated to do more to help other people,” says Carson. “I’m not sure yet exactly how, but I want to figure out a way to try and help other kids aging out of foster care who don’t have any people to support them or mentors.”
Photo via Pete/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)