No papers for you!

When parents go bad.

On Sep. 24, 2014, 18-year-old Alecia Faith Pennington left her family and childhood home with the help of her grandparents. Having been raised in a staunchly Christian, homeschooled family in Texas, she was ready to set off and pursue a new life.

You know, that needs a re-write.

On Sep. 24, 2014, 18-year-old Alecia Faith Pennington escaped her family and childhood prison with the help of her grandparents. Having been imprisoned in a fanatically Christian family in Texas that wouldn’t let her go to school, she was ready to escape and find a life.

But there’s a glitch: she has no paperwork of any kind.

Ms. Pennington, who says she’s now 19, has launched a campaign via YouTube and Facebook called “Help Me Prove It.” In the video, she explains her strange circumstance: she was born at home, after which her parents neglected to file for a birth certificate or a social security number; she was homeschooled and therefore has no school records; she has never been to a hospital and is without medical records. Furthermore, her parents have refused to help her in any way.

Never been to a hospital or a doctor of any kind – which is or should be criminal negligence.

She appears caught in a Kafkaesque bureaucratic web – one that’s been dubbed “identification abuse,” which  a small percentage of homeschooled children and adults sometimes experience, often due to the anti-government views held by their parents.

It’s appallingly abusive. She’s basically enslaved – her parents have systematically deprived her of everything she needs to get an education and/or work.

James and Lisa Pennington have refused to help, according to their daughter.

James and Lisa live in Kerrington, Texas, where they serve on the board of the Hill Country Home School Association. In 2010, they were named the 2010 Texas Home School Coalition Association’s “Leaders of the Year,” according to the THSCA website. Lisa is also an ardent Christian, homeschooling, and parenting blogger, posting at Hip Homeschool Moms and The Pennington Point.

In other words she’s an “ardent” child abuser. Very hip.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    “Help her prove it”?? WHO is there to help? You can bet her parents isolated her and only allowed her to associate with similarly loony, abusive, fundamentalist Christians.

  2. Blanche Quizno says

    How is their fundamentalist Christian approach any different from what women are subjected to in Shariah Law-compliant Muslim theocracies?

    Somewhere, the girl’s mother posted something to the effect that “they are willing to help her in any way they can”, words to that effect. But they won’t. If she won’t come back and submit to being their slave and obeying their every command, they will punish her by making it so much harder to make her own way in the world.

    They are deliberately crippling her as surely as if they’d cut off her foot.

  3. Brett Oliver says

    In New South Wales it is an offence if a person responsible (usually the parents) for having a birth registered fails to do so. Also, the law allows for the Registrar to accept a notification from someone other than the parents if that person has knowledge of the facts and the “persons responsible” are unlikely to register the birth.

    I would have thought that most US jurisdictions would have similar clauses in the relevant Act, (if only to deal with the
    incompetent parent), allowing the grandparents to register Ms Pennington’s birth?

    Brett Oliver

  4. angrycat says

    I don’t understand why there are no repercussions for parents like these. They haven’t acted in their daughter’s best interest on any front, it seems. Religious privilege gives people carte blanche to treat their kids as possessions and override their rights. How is that acceptable or legal?

    I had a quick peek at Lisa Pennington’s blog. Kudos to Alecia – if that’s the environment she grew up in, she must be a strong-minded young woman indeed. I pity her eight sibs though.

  5. says

    Perhaps it should be made an offense for parents to withhold crucial identity documents from their adult children (which really, should be deemed property of either the children or the government). And if no such documents exist (because stupid fanatical parents never got them), then the courts should be able to take some reasonable fall-back position like having another close relative (like the grandparents in this case, who seem to be on Alecia’s side) swear out affidavits regarding the required information, like birth date.

    Yes, all of which involves legal crap and paperwork and $$, but the point is there should be a *procedure* available for these people to turn the crank on, instead of having them fall through the cracks into a Kafkaesque unpersonhood. I mean, it used to be that people got off the boat with pretty much no documentation, but the system of the time somehow managed to integrate them.

  6. anat says

    Libby Anne has several threads going about this situation. One of Alecia Pennington’s sisters showed up to attempt to cover for their parents. There are some examples of odd family dynamics. The father is supposedly a lawyer, (the mother sells essential oils via pyramid scheme), yet not only did he break the law by not filing birth certificates for his children, there is reason to suspect tax fraud on his part.

  7. sigurd jorsalfar says


    The offence was about 18 years ago, so it’s now largely irrelevant. A limitation period probably applies.

    The passage of time also means that the local registrar likely cannot accept registration of the birth now except by order of the court. So to get her paperwork this 18 year old is going to need a lawyer, i.e. she’s going to need money – but from where?

  8. says

    @5: Indeed, withholding (or never obtaining) standard documentation seems like a kind of child abuse, except for the technical issue that the child is now a legal adult.

  9. Jenora Feuer says

    […] not only did he break the law by not filing birth certificates for his children, there is reason to suspect tax fraud on his part.

    Not having read the threads over at Libby Anne’s, I will note right now that, as we have seen with Kent Hovind and the like, there is a large overlap between the ‘my true home is in Heaven’ crowd and the ‘I don’t need to obey any Earthly government’ crowd. In other words, the really conspiracy-minded fundamentalist types quite often spill over into the Sovereign Citizens. Makes me wonder if this fellow qualifies.

  10. Lady Mondegreen says

    @sigurd jorsalfar #8

    So to get her paperwork this 18 year old is going to need a lawyer, i.e. she’s going to need money – but from where?

    Well, that’s something we can all help with. Any plans for raising legal funds via crowdsourcing, Ophelia?

  11. says

    @10: I’ve read a fair bit of the threads at LJF, and so far the only one I have seen suggest a Sovereign Citizen connection is myself. I agree that the warning flags are there.

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