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The Girl Who Doesn't Exist

Monday, August 29, 2016 - 04:00 AM

(Photo Credit: Jeff Moore/Flickr-CC)

In today’s episode, we meet a young woman from Texas, born and raised, who can’t prove that she exists.

Alecia Faith Pennington was born at home, homeschooled, and never visited a dentist or a hospital. By both chance and design she is completely invisible in the eyes of the state. We follow Faith as she struggles to free herself from one restrictive world only to find that she is trapped in another. In her journey to prove her American citizenship she attempts to answer the age-old question: who am I?

Reported and produced by Alexandra Leigh Young. Produced by Andy Mills and Brenna Farrell. Special thanks to Savannah Escobar, Nick Reed, Chris Van Deusen, David Glenn, Zen Allegra, Russell Whelan, Rachel Coleman and Lake Travis Zipline Adventures.

Correction: An earlier version of this episode's web copy incorrectly stated that Faith Pennington was born on a farm. Pennington was born at home in Houston, TX, then she and her family moved to a farm in Kerrville, TX, where she was raised. 

Faith’s original Youtube video is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPtpKNyaO0U

For updates on Faith’s journey, visit her Facebook page Help Me Prove It: https://www.facebook.com/Help-Me-Prove-It-882732628415890/

 

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Comments [56]

Heather from California

I work as a caseworker for a government office and have dealt with similar cases. From my experience, if Faith has her delayed burth certificate she can get a US Passport. If she has the passport that is proof of citizenship and she can get her SSN. It isnt simple but i have helped people do it. Radiolab or Faith can reach out if she wants to know more.

Dec. 21 2016 01:05 AM

It's really a good story and great care for the society.

Kratom

Dec. 07 2016 11:30 AM
Amelia from Texas

I can't believe this whole thing slipped by in my own backyard without my knowing about it.

I could have EASILY ended up in that situation. I was a home birth and for whatever reason, the paperwork for my birth certificate wasn't properly filed. 12 years later, my parents had to get all us kids signed up for Social Security numbers because the IRS started requiring them for claiming dependents. It took months and affidavits from the midwife, my mother and I forget who else to get me a birth certificate and then my social security number.

And because of my "Delayed Certificate of Birth", when the Social Security Administration accidentally altered my birth date during the process of changing to my married name, it took SIX blasted months for me to straighten the mess out because they had to do extra verification. I only discovered the error thanks to the IRS bouncing my tax return because I'd put the correct, but "wrong" according to the SSA's database, birth date on my taxes.

Shame on her parents for deliberately withholding their assistance in getting her identity documents in order as an adult. I can only imagine how much worse my documentation problems would have been had my parents intentionally decided to screw me over like that. That's downright abusive.

Dec. 02 2016 12:43 PM
Karl

I honestly can't understand the position that RS from Washington DC is representing. She is an adult, its her right to make her own decisions regardless of what her parents think. Her parents deliberately denied her the ability to prove who she was, which denies her the ability to function in society, why should the fact that they are her parents let them get away with that? What they were doing was damaging her, and what's worse is they were doing it for the purpose of denying her those abilities.

Oct. 27 2016 12:39 AM
Rasco

Incredible story. You guys at Radiolab did an amazing job with this. And to Faith, we're always behind you and hope only the best for you in this difficult situation <3

Oct. 08 2016 07:33 PM
TimLeary from Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

I am incredibly relieved by seeing many of the comments here about the deceptive nature of this segment!!! This appeared to be slanted from the first few minutes in so I had to come to the site to see what other listeners had to say. I hardly ever "sign-up" for comments and up & down voting but I was compelled to let you all know this. There is hope people.

Oct. 02 2016 02:30 PM
Rochelle Yankwitt from White Plains, NY

Why couldn't she get a social security number once she had the birth certificate?

Sep. 29 2016 11:09 AM
RS from Washington DC

Normally I think Radiolab does a fairly good job of remaining impartial and reporting the facts. In this case, I felt that you had a clear opinion on the matter. I thought the Texas lawmaker (who was bent on making the parents criminals for simply doing what they believed was in the best interest of their child) was reprehensible. While I did sympathize with Faith in that the government did not have a path for her to get recognized as who she was (this is what she wanted), I did not think that what her parents did was wrong in any way.

Sep. 24 2016 01:56 PM
Stefan Ruxandra from Bucharest

You guys need to see the Greek movie 'Dogtooth" . It takes this issue to a wild wild place

Sep. 22 2016 01:13 PM
Listener

I bet the fastest path to existence would be to commit a crime and get caught. They would create an identity really quickly.

Sep. 22 2016 12:03 PM
yourtalk from Hamburg, Germany

Two major points that popped up in this story made me contemplate a lot: (i) value and role of individual and collective sovereignty and (ii) determinants of identity. Both are issues on a meta-level that would have given a little more depth and meaning to this story. I would have loved to hear a little more in typical radial style on these issues.Thanks anyway for your work and dedication.

Sep. 20 2016 12:26 PM
Jason

How could they tell Faith's inspirational story and completely neglect to mention the legal status of her other 8 siblings?

Sep. 18 2016 08:48 PM
Bobo Smithson from West Coast

What a real difficult life, America, more than all the food and shelter and clothing she needed, beautiful setting, parents and siblings who were kind to her, solid academic education, and so forth. Whining. Didn’t know what teens were talking about regarding sex and boys and TV? Wow, how rough! Well, maybe not. Has this young lady and the producers of the segment stopped to think about how her life was compared to perhaps billions of people around the world? Is she thankful she is not a drug addict, pregnant before 18, not bullied, etc. Depression? Ask large portions of older children and teens in the "normal world" about depression, anxiety, and more. It makes for a good story but why should anyone feel sorry for her. She is obviously articulate and bright and we all know that eventually she will establish a record that she needs to “live successfully” in the United States.

Sep. 16 2016 07:48 PM
From California from San Francisco

This is nothing new and not just a problem in America. In 2003 an Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Lal Bihari. At age 20 his brothers declared him dead so they could collect on his portion of an inheritance. (This is not as uncommon as an even as one might think.) It's taken some people over 20 years to prove they are alive.

Instead of proving he was born, he had to prove he wasn't dead. He crated the Association of Dead People.

Sep. 14 2016 01:11 PM
Josias

Thank you for sharing this story with us. I really think that the parents are wrong for not letting their children choose what's best for them, even after they are 18. I'm not against people who want to be out of radar, though.

Sep. 09 2016 12:24 AM

As someone who's tried as hard as possible to stay out of the system, the idea that doing so would be a criminal act is horrifying and dystopian. But I agree that each person should get to decide that for themselves and that it's not a decision a parent has the right to make for a child.

Sep. 07 2016 07:07 PM
IvLiberty

I just want to tell Jad that he is greatly appreciated. Your work has been healing to me on so many levels. Please take care of yourself as you have kindly taken care of us, your listeners. Don't forget you are such a gift.

To the listeners: Please learn how to be a little more kind. I wonder if you would make the same harsh comments if you were face to face.

Sep. 07 2016 06:32 PM
Jason from Detroit, MI

Jad, sorry to hear that you're a little burnt out man. Hey, it happens, and I applaud your honesty and transperancy with fans of Radiolab. We appreciate you, and eagerly look forward to your return in January. I'm going to be honest... for the past few months, I could sort of tell that something was up with you personally. And I sensed a bit of tension between you and Robert. I truly hope you're able to fulfill your goal of bonding with your children, and then return to Radiolab and start crushing stuff with Robert again.

Robert, thanks for being a great pal to Jad, and holding the fort down. We love you to pieces as well. If Jad is the fire on the show, you're certainly the oxygen that keeps the flame going. I have always admired your curious quips, and your thirst for knowledge on the show. Keep up the good work!

Sep. 06 2016 03:04 PM
Vanessa Enrriques from Fort Worth, TX

I love RL and I thought this story was interesting but I just want to say that the editing was not your best effort. Too much overlapping-mish-mashing of voices and just too much going on.

Sep. 06 2016 11:49 AM
Julien Couvreur from Seattle

I found this episode rather revealing of the mainstream paradigm. It presents a false dichotomy: either you are severed from social interaction, or you are allowed in society by government.
Frankly, it's a mistake Faith's parents seem to have made too. But her current practical difficulties are as much caused by her parents (for essentially keeping her prisoner, with very limited interactions outside her family) as by government (for preventing a person from driving unless some arbitrary bureaucratic paperwork is produced, and other practical restrictions).
The notion that government legitimately has a monopoly on certifying your name and birth date (while refusing direct testimonial evidence to that effect) is rather sad, but her feeling that that somehow defines her identity on a personal level seemed quite disturbing. She is not a number.

Sep. 06 2016 05:00 AM
Jeff from Oregon

Big fan of Radiolab -- I've shared it with many friends and family. Quite often I play episodes for my kids-- My HOMESCHOOLED kids...who are extremely bright, and well adjusted. And, like so many other homeschoolers, they consistently out score other publicly schooled children in our state. I played this episode for them and we talked about it. They agreed it was well below the quality of content of so many other RLs.

This episode is one of the poorest RL has produced. Granted from our perspective Faith's parents seem a bit overbearing, but RL makes it sound like Faith and her siblings are held as prisoners by fundamentalist monsters -- thats a stretch. Seemingly the RL producers think Faith is better off shackled by the limitless control of the State government (though some show concern for her situation, they don't love her), than having her guided and influenced by her parents who (though overprotective and a bit kooky) seemingly are motivated by their parental love for Faith and her siblings.

Faith, for her part isn't the first kid to reject her Parents traditional values to run away as a prodigal. Perhaps her depression isn't actually because she has no paper trail, but because she's left the cozy house and family where she was valued. to quote Dorthy "there's no place like home". The reporter mentions Faith's green hair dye, nose ring and partying...Has she improved her situation and happiness since she left, or is she a less happy person due to her choices?...Just wondering if she's that much better off now.

Lately Radiolab episodes seem to be veering from the Science into left leaning agenda pushing propaganda. This show in particular seems to be more about undermining conservative, traditional and religious values. Not a surprise since so much of NPR seems to have that focus, but with Radiolab that saddens me. Also, sorry to hear Jad is burnt out. Maybe after time away, he'll recapture and return to the curiosity and passion that drove his early efforts. I hope the show returns to the original goals for of exploring and marveling at the world around us from a scientific-- not political-- perspective.

Sep. 05 2016 06:16 PM
Andrew Smith from Greenville-TX

I went to church with Faith for a short time before I broke out of the environment that praised and promoted this, and I'm so glad to hear she won this fight. I'm almost ten years older than her, but when I left it was around the same age and her family was already concerned about her 'rebellious attitude.' Thankfully, my parents came around and left that mindset, and I was able to fully reconcile with my mother before she passed. I hope Faith gets the same opportunity.

Sep. 05 2016 05:31 PM
Ryan M. from Tampa, FL

It seems like a lot of commenters here are having trouble believing certain aspects of this story... As someone who was homeschooled for a few years as a child, and who was involved in emotionally and psychologically abusive evangelical groups, and who still knows an awful lot of people in those circles, I can tell you that while Faith's parents are on the extreme end of things, everything about this story sounds plausible to me.

Sep. 04 2016 11:16 PM
Kellen from North Carolina

Poorest quality episode ever. The Radiolab standard is very high, and this one fell way short. Should not have aired.

Sep. 04 2016 06:45 PM
davethenube

Horrible episode.

So the girl who says she never was sick in her life, never seen a doctor, and never went to the dentist wound up having an uncle who was a doctor treat her for an injury and an orthodontist record. additionally she lived with this over bearing parents that controlled her and was not allowed to use technology but yet she texted her grandparents to come pick her up?

The only thing interesting about this episode is how screwed up the Texas legal system is that it could not deal with her case.

Sep. 03 2016 12:53 PM
Alvaro from Spain

Very interesting podcast.
What if Faith committed a crime while she still was invisible?
What would be then the legal implications?
Maybe this should be a good subject for a future podcast. Even for "More perfect"

Sep. 03 2016 07:26 AM
Siddika Angle from Berkeley, CA

Oh dear, another "stranger than fiction" Radiolab episode that was more "Ripley's Believe It or Not" than "Scientific American." I stopped listening after half an hour.

How I miss that wonderful old Radiolab with its fascinating science programs!

Jad and Robert, I believe you are making a big mistake going off on this National Enquirer "The Woman Who Does Not Exist meets Elvis" path. Those of us who came to you for great science are being driven away.

Please reconsider what you are doing.

Sep. 02 2016 08:28 PM
Troifanciful

I was listening to the music at the end and thinking, "Someone's been watching Stranger Things on Netflix."

Sep. 01 2016 05:29 PM
Huynh Valentine

I think she can take the DNA test (Genetic Testing for Ancestry) and from there to identify her family tree. Her grandparents have paperwork and identity. Science can prove she relates to her grandparents and from there, she will have her identification.

Sep. 01 2016 04:32 PM
Justin Treon from San Jose, CA

She should have contacted her congressman and senator. They have to do casework they are the only people who could help her at this point.

Sep. 01 2016 01:29 PM
Michael from Brooklyn, NY

Seems to me there are several missing pieces to this story. Really intriguing idea but if you look around online you'll find several comments from her parents stating that they tried to help her early on and she refused their help and refused to so much as talk to them. All she needed was a signed affidavit which they offered but she refused. They claim all the older children have licenses, go to college, one went to law school, and they've even flown on planes. Who knows who to believe, but there are always two sides to every story and RadioLab did a disservice to the listeners by completely leaving out the other side or not even mentioning the status or experiences of her elder siblings.
I realize this isn't journalism per se but it has the effect of journalism and poor journalism at that.

Sep. 01 2016 01:16 PM
Jacob Portukalian from Los Angeles

I was raised under very similar circumstances. Fortunately I was born before my parents went off the deep end and stopped getting SSNs and birth certificates for their kids (I'm the oldest of 11) but some of my siblings are going through the same issues trying to prove they exist, getting passports, etc.

I also had trouble going to college because you must be 24 to file a FAFSA on your own without your parents. I was 24 before I could afford to enroll in a university.

I went from having to teach myself basic algebra at the age of 18 (homeskooling) to now 14 years later I'm an RF engineer for a satellite company. If she needs any advice or help have her reach out to me.

Sep. 01 2016 01:36 AM
Andrew Forlines from Denver

I was raised similarly. My father bought into Bill Gothard's franchised cult. I have Stockholm Syndrome from my childhood. We homeschool survivors need to stand up and push back. I want to help the kids going through what I did.
Demand Oversight of Homeschool Now is a Facebook group seeking regulation reform for homeschooling.
Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a good group too.
I post Angry Homeschooler on YouTube.

Aug. 31 2016 03:34 PM
jader3rd from Monroe, WA

The gentleman making a big deal about how King got is sovereignty from God was way off. The King got his sovereignty by being the big tough guy who was able to get enough of the other big tough guys with swords to agree that he (and then later one of his sons) should be king. If you didn't agree that he should be king, the big though guys would make you agree. Kingdom boundaries were then drawn where the tough guys with swords felt like they could enforce that situation.
The whole sovereignty from God thing was a tack on later, to reduce the number of times the citizens would think "Why do we have that King guy around?".
So given how much he felt that government shouldn't be in control I don't get why he liked the King model (enforced via force) vs. the representative government we have now.

Aug. 31 2016 03:31 PM
J

The screaming at 31:00 isn't kind on the ears.

Aug. 31 2016 12:27 PM
Emily from Norway

I wish RadioLab had explained why she still can't get a SSN. This fact was just tossed in at the end. Seems like her problems really weren't solved with a birth certificate alone.

Aug. 31 2016 12:00 PM
Joe Friday from Reality

What a load of bull. Her story contradicts itself. She swears she's never been to a dentist or hospital, but she talks about submitting orthodontist and doctor records to the government. What point is she trying to make? Was she born on a farm like the description says or was she born in Houston? I think she's scammed a lot of gullible bureaucrats. Her facebook shows she's had a job the whole time.

Aug. 31 2016 09:31 AM
former homeschooler from San Diego

What's strikes me about situations like this is that that, in the end, they boil down to a central element- control. Faith's parents defend their right to have power and control over their own lives and choices through enjoying bank accounts, access to a drivers lisence, employment- all of which allow for freedom and control over their lives as American adults. So far, they seem unwilling to surrender those rights and privileges themselves. But why? It goes against their values.

The troubling focal point of this family dynamic is control- who is trying to hold onto it, and the disturbing hypocrisy it reveals. These parents, having enjoyed full control and parental sovereignty over their children as minors, have taken steps to ensure they do not have to reliquish that control as their offspring become adults. Apparently, control over an adult existence is a privelege only they, the parents, are permitted to enjoy. This unwillingness to reliquish control over the lives of their adult children is disturbing because it flies in the face of these parents chosen values for their own lives- these parents are, after all, actively rebelling against their own culture's social expectations to conduct a life governed by personal determination.

My solution- if parents want to deprive their children of control and personal sovereignty over their adult lives, very well, but they get to go first. If Faith's parents think their children should be asked to live without citizenship, make the parents give up those privileges of citizenship themselves. Let them experience total dependence and powerlessness in their mature years. No car, no bank account, no paycheck. Then let's call grandma and grandpa up and tell them their in charge again (hope mom and dad are ready to go back to having a curfew, a dress code, and no sex). Let's see how the parents enjoy life under the regime they have tried to weild over their twenty-something children. My guess... these parents would not go along with such an arrangement very quietly. Do unto others...

Aug. 31 2016 02:20 AM

Here's what I don't understand:
Why could DNA tests not be used to prove she was a citizen? - Her aunt, her grandmother, her grandfather - perhaps a court order for the parents or siblings- could all have been used to determine relation. Do the parents not have SSN#'s? If her age is the issue - xrays can show to rate of bone plates closing and a pretty close age approximation. If the grandmother had a birth certificate for the parent and a genetic relationship could be shown - couldn't that be a proxy?

They ran missing baby searches but no DNA samples?
Did the Texas legislation not have a DNA provision as well?

What am I missing here?

To the poster that asked about SSN#'s. Those are only required for children you're going to take a deduction for. In the story it sounds like the parents really didn't have much cash income and never declared any of the 8 children for deductions/tax credits.

Aug. 30 2016 08:01 PM
Scott Petrovits

As if we needed another reason to condemn religion. How tragic the time that was wasted and the heartbreak accrued in order for a young woman to live the life her crackpot parents wanted to deny her because of their own ideology. Religion poisons everything. And the blogger who views her decision to enter society as becoming a subject, using a decision from over 200 years ago as if it's still relevant, or citing the bible as evidence that she wants to be a slave, that guy is a lunatic. As are all the other commenters who think it's somehow a bad idea to acquire the trappings of society, and that acquiescing to the system of government somehow makes you an adherent to some kind of State religion. Wow.

Aug. 30 2016 07:14 PM
dirk

Wow, I wish you could do a whole podcast on that soveriegnty guy and concept... Interesting perspectives on that, I'm sure. How ridiculous of him, saying how she's giving up her freedom. I'm an anarchist and I agree with a lot of what that theory and practice, but where do you draw the line when someone grows up under tyrannical parents? The fact that she realized at 19 years old that she didn't know what was good for her, what she should/shouldn't do, how to think for herself or how to interact with others of her very same species, is counter-evolutionary and HARDLY freedom. As an anti-government person, if given the choice I'd rather suffer the restrictions of being a cog in a false democratic system (which at least gives me more than 1 option on how to live my life) than be a pawn in some parent's ridiculous fundamental religious experiment. I'm happy she is finally touching the life force, I bet it's much sweeter for her than most people her age. I think there is great benefit and freedom in homebirthing, homeschooling and raising a child to be free from state, but at least extend the freedom to them to by giving them some documentation to allow them the choice. Especially when you worship a patriarchal "god" from whom the State is replicated.

Aug. 30 2016 04:57 PM
winslow_p_kelpfroth from Muleshoe, TX

This should be interesting. The central respository of vital statistics of Texas recently discovered that an entire volume of the registry is missing; somthing on the order of 1500 people don't have a vital statistic record that can be recalled from a state agency.

Aug. 30 2016 04:47 PM
Hannah

Hmmm. While I always love hearing Radiolab, I think they really missed an opportunity to discuss why it is that we need these identification cards, numbers. etc to exist in society. They touched on it a little bit with the talk radio host, but I think that part of the story needs more examination. We simply accept these requirements and look at things like travel, driving, getting a job as PRIVILEGES afforded to us because we belong to a certain country. I think they had a real chance to examine these subjects and I think it's important to do so but that was simply left out.

Aug. 30 2016 02:24 PM

I am curious about her siblings. Are they still with their parents? Or were they inspired by Faith and went out seeking their "official" identity too?

A very fascinating story. From her Facebook page ("Help Me Prove It") it looks like Faith finally got a passport. Woohoo!!

Aug. 30 2016 12:13 PM
anon from Memphis TN

My child was born unassisted for reasons I won't go into. It did take a bit of time to get a birth certificate and social security card simply because they had no idea how to fill out the forms to satisfy the state, and I refused to lie about it. I ended up signing as my own witness for the birth certificate. A simple doctor's check up visit with her info on the form was enough for a SS#. This person should have had no problem just bringing in signed affidavits. I do agree that this situation is unusual, and you will get NO assistance, but it's really no big deal. Silly story.

Aug. 30 2016 06:58 AM
H W from USA

WNYC Stream doesn't work

Aug. 29 2016 09:41 PM
Anders from Yelm, WA

My parents lost my physical social security card, and never took any of us to get government IDs when we were kids. Getting an ID after turning 18 can be a huge hassle. One of the only reasons I was able to get my social security card was because they let me use my college ID, in combination with other documents. I don't even know what would happen with this person if she never had a yearbook photo, or paid any utility bills. Hopefully she'll get it figured out! I always wondered what happens to kids who, say, get kidnapped, or grow up in an off-the- grid compound, and are adults by the time they try getting IDs and such. Probably a big job for someone.

Aug. 29 2016 07:47 PM
JDD

I don't know how this could help, but I do have some perspective. I work with people who have to fill out paperwork to get a clearance. A lot of the people we work with are born overseas to American parents. They're American citizens, but not born here in the U.S. The technical document they're supposed to have is a Certificate of Birth Abroad. It's either an FS-545, FS-240, or a DS 1350.

Sometimes, the people don't have that documentation. But as long as they have *one* of their parents' SSNs, and their parents were born here in the U.S.A., we can accept them as citizens. If Faith's grandparents have a record of her parents' American citizenship (copy of birth certificate and corresponding SSN), could she be recognized as a citizen, based off that affidavit?

Aug. 29 2016 05:41 PM
Paul from Paso Robles, CA

Just to live in our world there are things that can't be separated out. There are many things that I don't agree with that are pretty much inescapable if I want to merely have access to my environment and the world around me. Having a cell phone, paying taxes, using money, getting healthcare, participating with humanity. Yes, I could go off the grid, but to what end? One needs to look carefully at the roots of what motivates them to adopt a lifestyle. I am an american but I choose to keep my footprint to a minimum and stay low off the radar screen. I don't have a TV, I don't do social media or Linkedin but I work, earn money and have a great basic life.

I see this subject as sort of a continuum with Faith's parents on the fear/delusional end of the spectrum. Faith was not free when she lived with her parents, rather she was being controlled by what amounts to a religious dictatorship. If people want to live that way, go for it! But having children makes it a very complicated issue, particularly when they get to an age where they are more hampered by their parents than helped. All of us are conditioned by our experiences, families, environment and society and I'm happy that Faith has enough intuition, wisdom and courage to question the foundations of her situation and to find her own way, not someone else's way.

Aug. 29 2016 04:38 PM
Dawn from Minneapolis

If her parents are citizens, and therefore have to file taxes, they would have to list their children as dependents with SS#'s. Her parents do not file taxes?, if so by what exemption?

Aug. 29 2016 03:45 PM
Paulo from New England

The whole idea of individual sovereignty is garbage! The word "individual" says it all. And as individuals we can choose to participate in society or not. Not one of your better shows.

Aug. 29 2016 03:36 PM
Mark Pugner from Gitmo Nation West

The root of this poor girl's problems are clear: the government and each individual who works and acts as an agent of the government. Poor thing, born free but choosing slavery.

Aug. 29 2016 02:27 PM
Billy from St. Petersburg, Fl

Just want to say thanks Jad for the many years of fantastic stories you and your team have provided to let your audience experience new perspectives and become informed on the moral challenges of our day right from the comfort of our cars, desks, or anywhere headphones are handy. Enjoy your time off! It's much deserved and your kids are lucky to have such an insightful dad who knows what's truly important in the world.

For the rest of the team, I'm excited to hear how your perspectives will continue to build on the wonderful foundation Jad and Robert have built!

Aug. 29 2016 12:40 PM
Eliza Walton from Boise, Idaho

I am so glad you did this story! I am a big fan and this story means so much to me personally!
My name is Eliza Walton. I live in Boise Idaho. I just have to say that I couldn't believe it when I heard how similar my story is to this young woman's.
I was born in northern Idaho. My mom gave birth without a midwife. My parents never filed for my birth certificate. or four of my siblings. I have 9 siblings (10 kids total). My parents decided against getting them birth certificates for much the same reasons as these parents. Since then most of my siblings have been able to get delayed birth certificates. I represented myself in court to get my birth certificate about a year ago. Since then I have gotten my passport. when I was 19 I couldn't get my drivers license and I didn't have my social security number so I couldn't work at an average job. It has been a long process but since then I have gotten my social security number, birth certificate, and passport and helped my siblings get theirs. I took my GED test and now I'm going to college, something that I was never sure if I could actually do. Thank you again for doing this story!

Aug. 29 2016 12:35 PM
A man from a state of confusion

Ok, it's not the old radiolab, but it's a really fascinating story. Where is science?

Aug. 29 2016 12:15 PM

The same goes for the YouTube link - it points to a webmail box.

The correct links are:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPtpKNyaO0U
https://www.facebook.com/Help-Me-Prove-It-882732628415890/

Aug. 29 2016 10:27 AM

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