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Meet Alicia, a Living, Breathing 19-Year-Old Girl Who Doesn’t Exist

Saying 19-year-old Alecia Pennington is suffering an identity crisis would be an understatement. Having grown up in a homeschooling Christian household, she never got a birth certificate or social security number, so from an identification point of view, she doesn’t exist.

Alecia is one of the nine Pennington siblings – children of James and Lisa Pennington, group leaders of the Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) and members of the Hill Country Home School Association. In a YouTube video Alecia posted on February 9, she claims that following her home-birth, her parents failed to file a birth certificate or record of any kind. She also alleges that they never got her a Social Security Number, have no school records or hospital records simply because she was never taken to a school or a hospital.

“This leaves me with nothing to prove my citizenship,” she explained in the video. “I am now 19 years old and unable to get a driver’s license, get a job, go to college, get on a plane, get a bank account, vote.”

Alecia-Pennington

Photo: Patheos

In addition to the video, Alecia has also set up a Facebook page called ‘Help Me Prove It’, as well a Twitter account, where she explains that she tried contacting the midwife who delivered her to find a birth record, but that the woman didn’t prove very cooperative. And when she asked her parents to provide her with an affidavit confirming her birth and attesting to their citizenship, they simply refused.

Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO), a non-profit organisation, has defined Alecia’s situation as ‘identification abuse’ – it includes destroying, holding hostage, or denying a child their identification documents (birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security Card, etc.). They claim some people perceive identification documents as ungodly or as the ‘mark of the beast’.

Alecia-Pennington2

Photo: YouTube caption

After Alecia’s video went viral online, her mother Lisa took to the internet to deny her accusations. “The video is untrue,” she posted on Facebook. “Maybe you should check your facts before just believing what you see online.” Lisa further wrote on her website that “She gave us no warning, no signs that it was coming. She didn’t try to talk to us about it or work with us. She, with the help of my parents, just left. And with her she took pieces of my heart that had been torn to shreds. We have spent the past 11 days trying to make head or tails out of what happened. Why did she leave? How can we help her? What will happen next? We also learned that she has been telling exaggerated stories about what is going on inside our home to a godless woman who has been giving her foolish counsel and encouraging her to deceive us and get out.”

But if Alecia really is telling the truth, her situation is somewhat of a paradox , because despite being born in a country of privilege, she is unable to make use of any of her rights. “I want to travel, I want to get an education, I want to just be a functioning American but I can’t until I can prove citizenship,” she said in her YouTube video.

 

As shocking as it sounds, Alecia’s case isn’t exactly unique. HARO revealed that home-schooled kids are particularly vulnerable to this form of abuse, because of anti-government and pro-parental rights attitudes in this culture. According to the organizations’s 2014 survey, 135 out of over 3000 respondents had experienced some form of identification abuse. One alumni, Sarah, said that her parents had deprived her of a birth certificate and social security number because “they believed they would give the government ownership of me and that God wanted his people to be unaffiliated with any government.” In fact, globally, there are expected to be over 200 million children under five whose births are not recorded.

Alecia has asked people who might be able to help her to contact her at [email protected]. Hopefully, she’ll soon be able to solve her problem and live a normal life.

Sources: Patheos, HomeSchoolers Anonymous

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