In some cases, abusive homeschool parents use their control over their children’s identification documents—such as their birth certificates or social security numbers—to control their children. In other cases, neglectful homeschool parents lose these documents. In still other cases, homeschool parents believe these documents are evil or make one property of the state. When children are homeschooled their parents are generally not required to submit these documents to education or medical officials, and these children may only be impacted by the deficit upon reaching adulthood and working to achieve independence. In this section we present stories of this sort of abuse or neglect, as told by homeschool graduates. While these stories are absolutely not the norm for homeschooling, they do suggest an area of concern.
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Not Obtaining Identification Documents
Sarah, 23, homeschooled K-12th
[My parents deprived me of a social security number and birth certificate] because they believed they would give the government ownership of me & that God wanted his people to be unaffiliated with any government. I am unable to attend any school, drive, get a job, get a background check. I have been trying for 3 years and still have not been successful in obtaining any documentation whatsoever. Not being able to drive or go to school or get a job makes it very difficult to be a functioning, respected adult. My spouse is fully responsible for me in every way because of this and I fear for what would happen to me/our child if anything ever happened to my spouse.
Michael, age 37, homeschooled 1982 to 1995
I did not have a birth certificate because my parents failed to apply for one. Because of this, I had extreme difficulty obtaining a driver’s license and passport. I was forced to go to court in order to prove my citizenship and obtain these. Still today, I am very careful to keep my passport current in order to avoid having to do this all over again.
Emily Walton, age 34, homeschooled 1985 to 1996
When I left home at 17 I didn’t have a social security number or a state-issued ID card (equivalent to a driver’s license). My parents didn’t want the federal government to know we existed so they didn’t want us to have a SSN. They also didn’t think the state had jurisdiction over drivers so they didn’t think we should get driver’s licenses. I got my SSN when I was about 20 I think. It took a lot of work to get all of the documentation together because we hadn’t gone to the Dr. when I was a kid. For a while before I got the number I worked and was paid under the counter at a restaurant. I had received a ticket for driving without a license when I was about 16 and I didn’t know how to clear that off of my record so that I could try to get a license in California (where I had moved to from Idaho where I grew up) so I finally got a license at around age 23 when I moved back to Idaho. Not having a license/SSN made me very dependent on the boyfriend I had moved in with when I moved to California. The dependency on others was the worst part of the whole thing.
Nathan, age 27, homeschooled 1999 to 2004
I grew up in Caifornia until I was eleven, and I remember one of the more senior homeschool dads telling us that his son didn’t have a social security number. This son was born at home, I believe, and his parents never saw the need to get one for him. It was commonly understood, at least as an in-joke among our family and homeschool friends that social security was a bad idea that was doomed to run out of money someday, and that the federal government should not, and was not allowed to, use the Social Security number as a means of identification across the board for things unrelated to Social Security. We thought of it as something that could lead to unwanted government intervention on level with the Mark of the Beast.
J. Hathy, age 35, homeschooled 1982 to 1994
I had my social security number, and birth certificate, but my youngest brother had no social security number or anything until he was a teenager. My dad is a weird anti-authoritarian “pacifist” who really isn’t and later turned out to be a paranoid schizophrenic who wouldn’t let us go outside despite us living in the literal middle of nowhere, citing black helicopters and all kinds of weird shit so we wouldn’t be taken away or tracked. Our schooling basically discontinued sometime in the early 90’s, so when I left home at a young age, it was sink or swim.
Sapphire, age 22, homeschooled 1995 to 2006
Half of my sisters (currently minors) have no form of identification. They were unassisted home births and my parents were adamant about opting out of social security? by denying their kids SSN’s and birth certificates? The initial plan, I believe was to somehow register my sisters as international people or something or get an international driver’s license because some (wealthy) large homeschooling family had done it before. The oldest unidentified is 2 years away from this becoming an issue, I don’t know what they’re going to do. As far as I’m aware it involves witnesses and a court hearing – presumably in the state they were born? I don’t know if they’re going to do that for three daughters (or who can count as a witness, as I was a minor at the time and no one showed up until after the fact). My parents were happy that my youngest brother was born in a hospital (emergency C-Section) because, well, HE would need ID, as a male. — I snuck all of my vital records out with me when I left home (diploma, birth certificate, SSN, drivers license – though, that I had on hand anyway, because driving), if I hadn’t, I feel as though they would have held them hostage and use them to coerce me to return or use them as a way to stop my wedding (which they tried tirelessly to do).
Anna, 24, homeschooled 1994 to 2007
I was deprived of a Social Security number. My parents did not believe in government. When I left home it took me over six months to get a social security number. The social security office in Virginia seemed unable to believe that I could have ever been born in the US without one. Because I had a birth certificate, baptism certificate, and confirmation certificate, I was finally able to obtain a social security number. I was then able to get a job, and take the GED test.
Francesca, 29, homeschooled 1989 to 2001
Did not have a social security number or birth certificate. They never gave me a reason why they didn’t give me a birth certificate. Social security numbers are bad… they are the mark of the beast (that was their reason). I did get both. It took me almost two years to finally get enough documents to prove I was born. It was a nightmare.
Withholding Identification Documents
Firstborn, age 24, homeschooled 1995 to 2007
My parents got birth certificates and SS numbers for me but didn’t allow me to know what they were and I only got my SS card after a long fight with my dad as a sophmore in college, and only because I needed it to apply for a job. For them, controlling my ID documents was a way to control me and what I did. A friend of mine, K, had parents that didn’t want to be part of “the system” so they ” protected” her by not getting any ID documents. She struggled to get those documents while applying for college and nursing school.
Revenwyn, age 30, homeschooled 1994 to 2002
I was adopted into this family when I was 8 years old. They had this documentation, but even as an adult they refused to give it to me. Before I became homeless at the age of 27 to get out, I had no access to these documents. Before I left the house I made a thorough search and eventually found my birth certificate, which had been changed to their last name, and my social security card.
KC, age 32, homeschooled 1986 to 1997
My parents obtained [a social security number and birth certificate] but they were only available for us to use if we were doing what my parents wanted.
Justin, age 26, homeschooled 1996 to 2004
Social Security Card/number, one did exist, I was unaware of a physical card or what my SSN was until I was 19. Birth Certificate, very similar story, my parents had it and maintained control of it until I was 19, when I left the house when I was 17 with no drivers license or SSN I managed to survive until 19 when I returned to the house when they were not there, one of my younger siblings let me in, I then found and took them and used them to get into the army. My parents discovered their absence within days, when I went to basic training they went to the house of the friend that I was staying with and told him that I had asked them to come get my stuff, they then reclaimed control of these documents. I then got out of the army after four years, intending to go to college. I then realized that there was no way I could survive in a real school atmosphere, and for various other reasons I failed to adjust to life outside the army. I then decided to re-enter the army, it was at this time that I called my parents and told my Mom to hand them over, she refused, I then threatened them with legal repercussions that would include me suing them for legal fees associated with retrieving them. I then had the youngest sibling get my birth certificate and original social security card from my parents and send them to me and avoided the time it would take to get them through legal means. My parents held onto these documents for control purposes, I have told my parents that I have no intention of ever seeing or speaking to them again, and my mother still tries to guilt trip me into interaction when I have responded to none of their attempted communications in the last several years.
Joe, age 22, homeschooled preK-graduation
I have my social security number written down now but I don’t have the card and I was over the age of twenty by the time I finally got that. I don’t have my birth certificate or even a copy. My parents have these things but they refuse to give them to me for unknown reasons. It’s very hard for me to find a job and since I’m planning on legally changing my name it’s a nightmare.
Helen, age 26, homeschooled 1994 to 2006
My parents refused to give me birth certificate and social security card when I moved out of the house. I was able to eventually get them replaced but it was a hard process.
Hope, age 24, homeschooled 1994 to 2007
My parents did obtain social security cards and birth certificates for me however those were kept from me when I moved out. Finally after causing a big commotion I was able to receive them but only with the promise that I would give them copies because I/the documents belonged to them. I was also not allowed to get my drivers license which greatly impacted my life esp since I was expected to support my family financially since I was 15 and work a job. Finally when I was 21 and desperate to leave two friends of mine worked together to take me to get my license without my parents consent.
Marla, 37, homeschooled 1982 to 1994
I was deprived of a social security number, drivers license and diploma. I was able to get a copy of my birth certificate from the county clerks office when I left home at 18 and it took several months to get my social security number. I got my first job at almost 19, had to take the bus to work and took night classes to get my GED. I finally got my GED at age 20 and joined the army. I got my drivers license at age 22. It was extremely tough. I joined the army because my parents wouldn’t sign papers for financial aid and I wanted to go to college. The army gave me money for college. I got out of the army in 4 years and then got my bachelors degree. My parents believed that their children should stay at home on the homestead we grew up on and not seek outside schooling or jobs.