On Craigslist San Diego, you can find almost anything. No, seriously, anything. From free used food to expensive antique furniture to a new family with which to celebrate a birthday, it’s all on Craigslist. The site is particularly useful for many and useless to others. I’ve never used it (one too many Craigslist murders on the news for my taste), but for some people it is one of the most useful tools they have. I’ve met a man who makes his entire living on Craigslist, scouring the site for free items people no longer want so that he can refurbish them and sell them for a profit. I’ve met people who clean out their garages on Craigslist to make a few extra dollars or just to get rid of stuff they don’t think that their trash collectors will pick up the following garbage pickup day.
The point is that Craigslist is literally the place you can find anything you ever imagined. For a 19-year-old former foster child in Colorado, it’s the place where she will find a family with whom she can celebrate her birthday. Natalie Carson has never had a family, and her birthday has never been a happy occasion. For most of us, our birthdays are happy days. We get to wake up to gifts and calls and love from our families, our friends and our kids. We have a lovely day with the people we love most, and we have no complaints. Or maybe we do have complaints, but they seem awfully trivial in comparison to celebrating a lifetime of birthdays alone.
I think back to my birthdays past. Last year when I turned 31, I woke up to four beautiful smiling children after sleeping in since my husband was home that day. We went to breakfast with the kids. We shopped, flowers were delivered to me at home by my darling husband. We went to dinner with friends to celebrate while the kids were at our house with their grandparents having a fun night without mom and dad. There was a little blue box from Tiffany’s from my husband with new earrings. There was another blue box from Tiffany’s from my kids with a charm for my bracelet.
There were phone calls and text messages. Our families stopped by to celebrate with us, and we had a beautiful day. Every year is like that. I’ve had surprise parties and dinners, trips and everything in between. I love my birthday. It’s coming up soon and I look forward to it this year just as I do every year, since it’s always a love-filled day of happiness for me. And most of us feel the same way.
But for Natalie Carson, she’s never had a family. She’s celebrating her birthday soon, and she is not looking for a three-tiered cake shaped like a Louis Vuitton bag for a party she’s throwing with caterers and gift bags for all her guests. She’s not looking for a day at the spa or a night out with her friends. She’s looking for a family.
“Hi! 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 since I was never adopted, I don’t have a family to spend holidays or my birthdays with. I was placed in foster care after being severely abused by my parents, so spending time with my biological parents is not an option. I am not a weirdo or anything, I was just inspired by another girl that rented a family from Craigslist in California for the holidays. I just want one day that I can feel important and special, and like I matter even if I really don’t. I have never had a good birthday, so I figure why not this birthday. I am NOT looking for any monetary support as I also work. I can pay $8 an hour. Please no replies that are sexually suggestive because I will not answer. Thanks in advance.”
She was first placed in the hands of foster care as a baby, and she was adopted before too long. While that might seem like something wonderful, it wasn’t. She spent the first 12 years of her life with her new family suffering at the hands of their abuse. She was back in foster care by the time she turned 12 and eventually turned 18 still in foster care, aging out of the system. She’s never had a happy birthday before; something the rest of us take for granted.
She decided to place an add on Craigslist San Diego in hopes that she would find a nice family willing to celebrate with her for one day so that she can experience what it’s like to have a real family and a real birthday.
“I aged out of foster care and since I was never adopted, I don’t have a family to spend holidays or my birthdays with,” she says of her life. “It’s not something that I’ve ever really had. Of course, I’ve had birthdays, but they haven’t really been good. Usually every birthday is really painful and hard,” she says of her 19 previous birthdays.
The ad she placed online has been overwhelming in terms of responses. We are happy to say that Natalie has found a nice family with whom she can spend her birthday, and she’s asked that the other families who have reached out to her do the same for other kids in foster care who lack the same basic pleasures that so many other people take for granted. Her plea has no gone unanswered as many people have done precisely as she asked and reached out in support. Here is hoping that these families take her advice and her requests to heart and do what they feel is right in their hearts by helping out another child on a day that might not seem so special.
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