Jackie Turner, 26, posted a Craigslist ad seeking a family for the holidays. She got exactly that, but not in the way she expected.
Turner, a California college student who was sexually, emotionally, and physically abused by her biological parents before escaping into the streets, lived a life riddled with gang violence and poverty, eventually serving a one-year prison sentence.
“I was in gang life, on the streets, fighting, doing drugs, just making a mess of my life,” Turner told News10.
Upon her release in 2010, Turner worked to turn her life around, attending Christian Encounter Ministries, a camp for troubled youth, before moving on to William Jessup University in Rocklin, California where she holds a 4.0 GPA.
Though Turner knows her life appears great on the outside, things aren’t always what they seem:
“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.”
Which is why she tried to rent a mother and father for Christmas, offering $8 an hour for the gig:
“Just to sit, just to listen,” Turner 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.”
What she got instead might not have been what she expected, but it was exactly what she needed.
Families not only offered to take her in for free, other people who had been abused, abandoned and neglected spoke out as well.
“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?’” Turner said.
Instead of joining a family for Christmas, Turner plans on getting all those who share her void together for the holidays.