Natalie Carson of Westminister, Colorado, is a college student studying computer science. She will turn 20 on June 10 and made an unusual appeal on Craigslist for her birthday.
Carson asked to rent a family to help her celebrate and offered $8 an hour for the job.
Carson was placed in foster care as a baby in Colorado. She was soon adopted and moved to Georgia.
"They were abusing me and so I got placed back into foster care when I was 12," she said.
Six years later, Carson aged out of the foster care system and took a bus back to Colorado. "I really didn't know anything, but I knew I was born here," she said. Carson sought support at Urban Peak, a Denver homeless shelter for young people, and obtained her GED. In addition to attending school, Carson holds a job as a grocery store clerk. Still, birthdays are an emotional ordeal for her.
"It's something that I've never really had," she said. "Of course, I've had birthdays, but they haven't been good. Usually every birthday is really painful and hard."
Carson posted the ad after she heard about a girl in California who did the same. Her request has since gone viral and she has received widespread messages of support from Australia to Canada. “I swear I’m getting [four] emails a minute now,” she told Yahoo Parenting. “I think I’ve gotten more than 1,000 emails.”
Some people have offered to fly her to their homes to celebrate. “Now I feel more hopeful about my birthday, and more happy," she said. "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?’”
Though the response has been overwhelming, Carson’s request hasn't changed. “I just want a normal birthday, nothing extravagant … I just want something low-key.”
Carson is grateful for the support, including messages that offered her money to help other foster kids. “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.”
You can contact Carson about her birthday plans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: The Denver Channel