Alecia Pennington, you are not alone

Alecia Pennington’s Help Me Prove It campaign went viral on social media this week.

But as the survey conducted by Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO) a few days ago demonstrates, she is not alone. And the majority of survey respondents whose parents denied them their identifying documentation were also Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) members, which is an interesting correlation.

Source: HARO. Image links to source.
Source: HARO. Image links to source.

When my parents gave me an ultimatum between moving out and transferring colleges to Bob Jones University summer 2012, I left with only my driver’s license.

Earlier that year or year before, my mom gave me a folder marked “Eleanor.” She kept one for me and each of my siblings. It had everything from baby footprints and my birth certificate to my social security card and passport to x-rays and health records for my growth hormone treatment as an adolescent.

But the Waldo Canyon Fire started one sleepy Saturday in June 2012. By the next Tuesday, the winds rolled it down the mountain into the city, destroying around 300 homes, and my family and neighbors were planning to evacuate.

My dad took the folder for safekeeping in a safe deposit box. I reminded him I would need it later.

I moved out on August 1, 2012.

Before and after moving out, I asked for that folder and my documentation over and over. I applied for jobs off-campus for additional income, but could only provide my drivers’ license for the I-9, which wasn’t enough.

Mom finally gave me a few Xerox copies of my social security card and passport. But not before I’d already been denied one tutoring job after an interview because I couldn’t produce proper identification.

They kept telling me they were holding my documentation in safekeeping for when I changed my mind and decided to go to Bob Jones.

Around four to six months after moving out, they finally gave me my social security card.

I continued asking for my passport.

Text messages from 11/17/2013:
Me: May I please pretty please have my passport?
Mom: Passport applications are available at the post office. […] I will continue to pray for you. Goodbye.

Later, my dad said I had to repay debt before he would give me my passport. I didn’t receive my passport until October 2014.

So this week, the Help Me Prove It campaign reminded me that I still don’t have my birth certificate or health records.

I emailed my parents two days ago.

My dad replied, Feb. 13:

Have not seen your BC for quite some time. Your best bet there is to contact Jefferson County in Texas. They can likely give you a copy. Very busy these days. Best regards, TS

Mom answered the next day:

Dad and I had to request birth certificates when we first applied for passports.  It was not something that Grandma PZ or Gram had.  We wrote Harris County and Duchess County for our birth certificates.  You won’t need one to renew your driver’s license.  Just proof of address and take the eye test.  Mom.

No answer about my health records.

At least I’m registered in the state system, so I can get another birth certificate if I need to get a driver’s license in another state, and I can request copies of my health records from my doctors. Alecia Pennington can’t.

So yes, some of us who moved out years ago are still fighting for our documentation.


13 thoughts on “Alecia Pennington, you are not alone

  1. Eleanor, So I am understanding that in order for you to get your various forms of identification you had to comply with your parents demand that you attend Bob Jones University for your education? Seeing you are a legal adult all you have to do is call or contact the medical doctors you went to see and usually for free or a very small fee they will make copies of your medical records and immunizations for you to keep. It is part of the patient bill of rights and the HIPPA Laws. It is going to be a bit of a hassle and annoying, but you can independently gather your information your self.
    I have been thinking about this as I have prayed for you. In scripture there is only one command to children…”Obey your parents”. I have been searching for an answer to when does that stop. We have no official YOU ARE AN ADULT NOW MOMENT here in our western society We have rights of passage…16 drivers licence…18 the right to vote and 21 drinking. Those are are legal and societal life delineations for adult privileges and consequences. I am trying to figure out in the scripture when the ” Obey” stops. Parents do not have life long control over their off spring. Some say the boundary is when the “child” marries. Is that to mean if a man or woman never marry the Father and mother still has control and can expect obedience from their off spring in their 30s and 40s? At what point… is the adult off spring free to make independent choices and decisions with out being called out to be in sin or rebellion? Hard questions and I am not finding ready answers.
    In my family, my children were held accountable to the level of responsibility their age provided them At 18 in our society my children have become legally culpable for their actions. It was my responsibility to have prepared and guided them to be prepared for that moment and release control over them as children and interact with them as adults.

    All 4 can testify it has been a learning curve for me… but they have patiently taught me how to be a parent of an adult “child”. I am fortunate they come sometimes for council and advice. We help them if we can try and figure out direction and decisions but ultimately it is their life, their journey, their relationship or non relationship with God.

    I would love to hear your thoughts or any one else’s thoughts or ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, thanks for your input! ^^
      Yeah, I can definitely get another birth certificate, but some of my health records are over 10 years old and I’m not sure if my doctor still has them, which is why having the originals would be really helpful.

      “I am trying to figure out in the scripture when the ‘Obey’ stops. Parents do not have life long control over their off spring.” Amen to that. I wish our culture did have more coming-of-age traditions, it would probably make the transition easier for parents and children.

      Also, I’ve heard that childhood is much more extended for the millenials than it was for our parents, which is probably also affecting the dynamics.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Eleanor, Health records are kept I think for a long time. Now a days I think they are on the computer. I would encourage you to just call the doctors office and ask. My oldest daughter who is 28 needed documentation of her child hood immunizations. It took a few phone calls but we were able to retrieve them just fine.

      Yes I agree with making the transition easier from child to adult hood. The goal of parents is to raise capable responsible caring adults and let them go on their life journey. If you are “lucky” the kids seek your council and advice and you have the freedom to speak. I am sorry you and your family find yourselves in this struggle.

      I do see the extension of extended childhood in position and some behavior in the millennial generation. I was raised by 2 parents who lived through the depression and WWII… that colored everything the did. Hard work and independence were the operative words.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Just a thought on the “obey your parents” commandment: it doesn’t exist.

      The commandment is “Honor your father and mother.” Now, can honoring include obeying? Yep – when it is in line with God’s law. Requiring a particular school attendance to obtain personal documentation isn’t something God addressed; nor would it lead your soul to heaven or hell – it doesn’t point you any particular direction (given that extenuating circumstances could certainly point you in a particular direction). If a parent told a child (minor or adult) to commit theft, obedience to that parent would NOT be honoring said parent. In that situation, honoring the parent would actually be refusing to commit the sin, doing what is in that particular child’s power to help the parent back onto the right path, and obtaining suitable outside help as appropriate to the situation.

      In the religious education classes I teach to elementary and middle schoolers, we define “honoring our parents” as “making them look good to the world”. So do what it takes (morally) to show that you have learned good lessons from your parents, that you are a capable responsible adult whether because of or despite your parent’s failings. That is honor; obedience is only a small part and some of the time.

      In your particular case – they really should be giving your government issued identification — that is not information tied to attending a particular school, this becomes a secular/government law, not a God law. Secular law can make them provide that information. That is your choice on that pursuit.


    4. Hi, Pege,

      I feel the transition from obeying our parents to honoring them is under explored, especially as it relates to adult children who aren’t married. We’re used to looking in the epistles for answers to questions like this, and looking for answers in the form of flat out commands. However, Jesus said, and demonstrated, some very interesting things relating to family relationships. I find Matthew 12:46-50 especially helpful. As shown in Matt. 15:1-6, Jesus did honor the parent/child bond, but I believe he places it well below following God personally. Too often we conflate keeping parents happy with following Christ.

      Liked by 2 people

    5. When I was finishing grad school (paid for myself), my parents were trying to bully me out of taking the job I wanted and into taking one that I didn’t. I went to talk to the pastor of the Baptist (ABC) church down the street from my university to see if I really had to obey my parents at the age of 22 because I wasn’t married (this is what they were telling me). He said that biblically we are only considered dependents until we’re 20, and he pointed to the Temple tax on men 20 and up (as well as military counts in the OT, IIRC) as his reasoning.

      My parents had insisted that I call their pastor (also ABC; my family is much more conservative than their church, and the fundamentalist views definitely came into our family through the homeschooling materials). He didn’t give me that clear delineation, but he did feel confident in assuring me that I wasn’t on the hook to obey my parents forever just because I hadn’t met the right guy yet. It really took the wind out of my parents’ sails to have two different pastors, one their OWN pastor, tell me that they didn’t have the “biblical authority” they kept telling me they did. 😀 They weren’t expecting that!

      I would never tell an 18 or 19-year-old “child” that he or she had to obey his/her parents, because in our culture they are legally adults who are responsible for their own actions and are therefore entitled to be in charge of their own lives. But 20 does seem like the best answer to “biblical age of adulthood?” from what I can tell.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. “come to think of it, there must be a fundamentalist awakening in central Colorado.”
      Totally agree. 🙂

      Just emailed you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello to the folks in this stream of discussion…..I have been thinking…..The work of a parent is to raise a mature and responsible person who is able to function in society. A Parent is a guide…a Parent is not a GOD. We point them to God, we set the example to follow God, we teach them to follow God….we do not control the child demanding obedience of them into adult hood. There is no timeline in scripture to delineate when maturity happens….what year it is reached. The Bible was written to a different culture at a different time it is not the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy telling us what to do in every situation for every person to follow like some puppet. Christs teachings are timeless and eternal truth. There is not a 12 step guaranteed guide that if we as parents follow it… we will have perfectly obedient adult children who will never make mistakes or sin….hell we the parents do not do everything well and sin….why do we expect more form the kids?

    Christianity is not about performance it is about a relationship with Christ. I as a parent need to relinquish my “authority” over the child to God himself. I , in my Parenting should have taught my kids to follow God in faith and love.
    .I have no guarantee my children will become believers or follow Christ .Setting stringent rules and guidelines for them to follow only produces mindless puppets who have a hard time thinking for themselves who obey out of fear or rejection or it produces anger ,hurt, confusion and pain. If we parent like this we have failed.

    I am sorry If I am not explaining myself well……i think my conclusion is thus far… an adult ( in our society 18) is legally culpable for their actions and consequences. We can be guides to them but they are no longer under “OBEDIENCE” to parents.Life decisions are theirs and we can be available to show love and support, encouragement and warning if need be,…council if we have earned their respect but we no longer have the right to demand obedience.
    Any things to add or challenge?
    Love to hear.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How fortunate that you have your passport! That can get you new copies of everything else–birth certificate, social security card, etc.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s