Coping with the holidays can be stressful, and even more when you don’t have a family to call your own. Jackie Turner, a 26-year-old woman from California, posted a Craigslist ad seeking a family for the holidays.
Turner’s life definitely wasn’t picture perfect. She was sexually, emotionally and physically abused by her biological parents as a child. Her teen years were filled with gang violence and poverty and a prison sentence.
But Turner managed to turn her life around with the help from Christian Encounter Ministries, a camp for troubled youth and eventually enrolled in college, where she’s now holding down a 4.0 GPA.
“There’s still something deep inside of me. There’s this void, my biological parents aren’t here, and it’s kept this hole inside of me.”
That’s where the ad comes in, with the headline, “I want to rent a mom and dad.”
Her ad reads, “I am looking to rent a mom and dad who can give me attention and make me feel like the light of their life just for a couple of days because I really need it.”
She noted she’d be willing be pay $8 an hour.
“Just to sit, just to listen,” she said. “Just to cry with me, no strings beyond that. I’ve never felt the touch of my Mom hugging me and holding me. I don’t know what it’s like to look in my dad’s eyes and feel love instead of hatred.”
But Turner got a lot more than that.
Several families responded to Turner’s ad. All were willing to take her in for free. She said she even received responses from people who came from similar circumstances.
“People who have been raped, people who have been abused, people who have been passed on from foster home to foster home saying the same things.”
Turner now plans on organizing a gathering for everyone who responded to her ad.
“When you speak up, people start learning that they’re not by themselves. Often we lock things inside of ourselves, like a lockbox of our secrets. But then you let one out and realize, ‘I’m not by myself after all, am I?'”
And that’s what the holidays are about.