I was born at home in California to two anti-establishment parents who didn't file a birth certificate or social security number for me or my two brothers and opted to give me limited homeschooling that lacked structure or consistency wherein most of the academic subjects I know I learned independently prior to attending an adult school this year.
Proof: https://imgur.com/a/hNsvc
EDIT: I made a small GoFundMe for anyone interested.

Comments: 2088 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

Fakename9981797 karma

What are some unexpected difficulties you've experienced due to this?

BrightenTompkins4014 karma

Finding out I have minor scoliosis that I can't stop thinking could have been dealt with had my dad taken me to a doctor; not being able to check items out of a library; being unable to get fingerprinted for a job; being turned down at schools because I don't possess a photo ID; and having to find out the court documents and procedures involved in obtaining a birth certificate where information is limited.
EDIT: The most unexpected difficulty was knowing when and how to approach an authority on the matter and if they would actually help. I ended up calling the police on my father and after they tried to lecture me and my brothers, I told them everything, and they called CPS.

robolink157 karma

Oh fuck you can treat scoliosis while young? My school doctor diagnosed me and told me to get to a doctor, my skitzo mom instead used it as an excuse to shelter me and keep me from doing anything ever and hid me from the world.

That and the dozens of pills for every single thing that was "wrong" with me.

I never had her go as far as yours did in the paranoia aspect but she attempted to kill herself so I couldn't go visit a friend to hang out once so there's that.

Anyhow I'm half a country away now and I assume you're in a better place now, gratz on living :)

BrightenTompkins14 karma

Thank you kindly. :)

centrafrugal8 karma

What jobs require fingerprinting?

BrightenTompkins11 karma

A robotics and programming job. I remember them saying it was a process everyone over 18 goes through though.

fuckbirdsman1307 karma

Where do you plan to go from here job-wise and education-wise? Since you've lived off the grid this long is it possible to get a birth certificate and a social number?

BrightenTompkins2803 karma

Education-wise, I started an online program, Edgenuity, through an adult school that let me in without a photo ID on the condition that I can't graduate until I possess one. Job-wise, I need a social security number before I even begin.
It is possible. I had an Order Establishing Fact of Birth (VS108) signed by a judge and I'm working on sending it to the California Department of Public Health - Vital Records to be made official. From there, I'm using my Medi-Cal benefits card—which I got from my social worker helping me get temporary health insurance—as ID, the VS108, and a copy of my birth certificate to get assigned a social security number. Finally, I'll be able to work and graduate.

EarsRingAndTeethClik803 karma

Do your brothers share your parent's beliefs? Are there any extended family members that tried to help/stop this?

BrightenTompkins10 karma

My brothers share my beliefs. My great aunt tried to help, but we were too brainwashed to tell CPS the truth.

BrightenTompkins201 karma

That is golden.

RinoaRita187 karma

How hard is it to "prove" that you're a citizen of this country? I can see the current state of the government claim that you're illegal or something.

Also would you be able to lie about your birth date/year if you choose ? What does the paper work involve?

BrightenTompkins272 karma

It's a 2-step process. First, you gather testimonies, family photos, and personal testimony. Second, the judge believes everything you and the witnesses say after verifying everyone is telling the truth. I made up my own middle name, so I'm sure I could have lied, but I didn't want to. It would also take my witnesses lying with me.

diveboydive135 karma

Please tell me you picked some fantastic middle name like Magic or Ulysses or Thundercock.

BrightenTompkins109 karma

No such luck. That would have been funny though. I chose Quin after my dad.

StinkinFinger32 karma

You chose a cool name. That said, there is no way I would have chosen his name after what they did.

BrightenTompkins44 karma

I would have ended up regretting any other, to be honest.

RiggsDiehard155 karma

What's it like to work for the CIA in movies?

BrightenTompkins182 karma


highvolt4g3149 karma

OP have you heard about Khan Academy? They have a TON of classes in video form in many different subjects online for free along with practice questions. I would recommend you using them to try to catch up on certain subjects, and if you plan on getting a GED they could really help you get ready for the tests. Best of luck.

BrightenTompkins127 karma

I love Khan Academy!

brad-corp95 karma

What is the unexpected upside of officially not existing that regular folk would never realise?

voxnemo14 karma

You have an awesome sense of humor and grasp of pop culture and meme's. I would say your long term chances of success are high and that your socialization either happened quickly or naturally.

I would wish you luck, but I don't think you need it. You be you man and rock it!

BrightenTompkins5 karma

Haha, thank you, my dude.

jelvinjs786 karma

So… what happens now? Are you capable of getting a birth certificate/SSN now? What's the process of doing that?

BrightenTompkins213 karma

I am getting my birth certificate soon actually with the social security number coming after.
First, it takes petitioning a court to hear me and my witnesses (maternal grandma and paternal grandma) and believe we're telling the truth. Then, they sign an order that establishes I was born, which becomes official after I send it to the California Department of Public Health - Vital Records. Finally, I use my Medi-Cal benefits card, certified birth certificate, and certified judge-signed establishing order to get assigned a social security number.

SugarandSass5 karma

Will the process be easier for your siblings to follow since you're paving the way for them? Or is it going to be like starting over from scratch for them?

BrightenTompkins9 karma

It would be a hell of a lot easier if my dad didn't disapprove of my method.

SugarandSass7 karma

I'm sure! But his judgment hasn't proven to be all that great, so hopefully even if he fails, your siblings can use your progress when they come of age.

BrightenTompkins5 karma


Mantisbog75 karma

Are you Roy?

BrightenTompkins80 karma

Of course.

entlephant67 karma

How much pot do your parents smoke?

BrightenTompkins117 karma

Lots. I, unfortunately, was allowed to as well.

SwissStriker31 karma

As a kid already?

And do you still smoke?

BrightenTompkins80 karma

I stopped smoking. I don't even drink anymore—not that I should at 18, but it's good fun to watch adults faces when I talk about preferring tequila over whiskey.

SwissStriker30 karma

Thanks for answering.

Did you find that your parents letting you smoke made you more susceptible to their ideologies?

Also, being European, the part about the drinking isn't that odd lol

BrightenTompkins21 karma

I don't think so.

AlyxVeldin16 karma

That's not so odd is it? Most younger people like tequila more then whiskey right?

BrightenTompkins24 karma

What's odd is the part where a kid was the one drinking it. Haha

Youngdough66 karma

Do you think you should've went to the CIA before you got on reddit? You could've been a super spy.

BrightenTompkins47 karma


Repogirl2760 karma

If you could go back and convince your parents to file a birth certificate and ss number, would you?

BrightenTompkins140 karma

Ah, good question. On the condition my parents also weren't knee-deep into conspiracy theories, health myths, and the-Earth-is-flat jargon, I think I would. I believe genetics plays a giant role in personality so I'd still be me in my mind. Granted, a lot of my fondest memories would be gone, but it would be worth having a better shot at things.

onmybike1133 karma

Man, the fact that you can see through the craziness after being raised in an environment where you were constantly subjected to it is very impressive to me.

BrightenTompkins227 karma

When CPS first got called, I didn't even flinch in lying to them and telling them everything was all right. It was only when a group of people challenged me to prove to them that vaccines caused autism that in researching the hows and whys I decided trying to prove to myself they didn't cause autism would improve my arsenal for proving they did; however, I ended up realizing the world isn't so one-sided.

zampe50 karma

How do your parents feel about the situation now? Do they regret keeping you off the grid or do they now feel like what the government is doing by taking their kids away more like a "see I told you so" the government just wants to control us perspective.

Also have they been checked for mental illness?

BrightenTompkins102 karma

They don't like it. They feel like I'm making a huge mistake, and I'll realize it when I'm 40. My mother exhibits signs of schizophrenia but my dad hasn't been checked although I believe he has depression.

MissyJ2248 karma

How do you keep your hair looking so glorious?

BrightenTompkins81 karma

Oh my gosh, thank you. It does what it does.

Oishii8840 karma

Do you think your parents were selfish and unfair for doing this to you and your siblings?

BrightenTompkins75 karma

I want to, but I know my dad did it because with all of his heart he thought it was right.

Hartifuil18 karma

Are your parents extreme left or right wing? Both seem to have these super anti-govt types.

BrightenTompkins24 karma

I'm glad you think so. Too many people think it's only the other side that has it's fringe crazy. They're extreme right wing.

lordkev36 karma

Are you sure that you weren't kidnapped or illegally adopted as a baby? It would also fit with them not having any documents for you and being terrified of the police coming. You could potentially have your DNA compared to the NamUs database to see if there are any matches.

BrightenTompkins56 karma

I'm sure. She got pregnant and everyone saw it. I ruled that out a long time ago.

IthinkImCute33 karma

When your father connected you to the internet and you started some self education, what were some of the most mind blowing things you discovered that people with different upbringings find mundane?

BrightenTompkins9 karma

The pledge of allegiance and the national anthem.

SupremeDictatorPaul30 karma

What is your favorite TV show and movie? Were you allowed to watch cartoons growing up?

BrightenTompkins98 karma

My favorite TV shows are Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Farscape. My favorite movies are Blade Runner and Grease. I was allowed to watch Drawn Together growing up.

LedZeppelinRiff27 karma

You're not on the grid? Is your name Neo and did you take the blue pill?

BrightenTompkins74 karma

I used to take the red pill, but it doesn't do it for me anymore. Neo is a little bitch; I'm Morpheus.

Yoda1035327 karma

Do you agree with your parents anti-establishment beliefs or are you pro-establushment or somewhere in the middle?

BrightenTompkins80 karma

I don't agree with their beliefs but in order to keep an open mind, I think it's good to listen. On YouTube, I'm subscribed to Infowars not because I believe everything they say but because I think it's important to not let my ill-feelings towards them obstruct rational thinking.

aaronr9326 karma

Might have been asked before, but I'm curious: how did you come to do this AMA? Were you encouraged to do so in another thread elsewhere on Reddit?

BrightenTompkins50 karma

You know, I thought one or two people would find it interesting and after hearing people were doing some and personally asking some questions, I went ahead and tried it.

Nissa-Nissa24 karma

Thanks, it's really interesting. I have a conspiracy loving friend with an unvaccinated 2 year old who says she is going to home school so her daughter won't be taught the 'wrong' things by the lying government and Reptilian globalists. This gives me hope.

BrightenTompkins23 karma

Aw. That sucks. I'm glad it gives you hope though!

limerick_slayer26 karma

I have a friend who had a child recently (at a hospital) and they didnt get the bc of ssn either for some odd reason. They are saying that the child will be able to do and have the same rights as an immigrant into this country (canada). Do you believe this is accurate?

BrightenTompkins42 karma

I don't believe so. I think even being an immigrant requires you prove you immigrated.

nancylikestoreddit23 karma

I can't imagine the shitstorm this has put you through in trying to do anything like exist.

How difficult has it been to try and be legally recognized by the system?

BrightenTompkins40 karma

It's been hard. Even the judge that made my birth certificate official expressed sympathy.

horseraddit23 karma

Hi! I work on statelessness and was wondering, do you have nationality?

Getting your birth registered in a quite some countries worldwide is an important step in acquiring nationality. With the USA system I believe you'd automatically be eligible to acquire citizenship for being born on the territory, but not sure what additional steps you'd have to take. So really very curious what your situation is like!

BrightenTompkins25 karma

I hadn't thought about that. I thought I would possess it after acquiring my social security number and birth certificate.

anonymau520 karma

Is that your real hair? What's a good conditioner to use with that style?

BrightenTompkins50 karma

Oh my. Well I used to use apple cider vinegar because my dad made me. Haha. I just use whatever my grandmother purchases; I'm not choosy.

ksnizzo20 karma

What was/is your parent's plan for your family to pro-create?

BrightenTompkins26 karma

Fall in love with them and have babies? They didn't need me to be married to them if that's what you mean.

RannonShound22 karma

I think they mean what was your parents plan to carry on the family line if you kids were made to stay inside and not make friends/not have opportunities to find a future significant other?

BrightenTompkins84 karma

Oh. I'm not really sure. I guess they just assumed I'd meet someone somehow. Maybe at a grocery store? Mm, get me some 50-year-old biker babe buying cheddar crisps. That would be the gold at the end of the booby trapped tunnel.

ksnizzo14 karma

I mean how would you meet other people outside your family? Internet I assume? I can imagine that would be tough to bring someone into what sounds like a commune situation.

BrightenTompkins21 karma

The internet was the only place I could meet people. I hear I do well with normal interactions though. :)

MightBeAProblem19 karma

Were they calling it unschooling? The unstructured homeschooling you were receiving?

I've seen this come down both ways and it's so disappointing because it all has to do with how much time and effort the parent is willing to put into the child's education.

How unstructured was it?Many of us who went to public or private schools have a sort of grade system through which they remember their childhood. Do you have segments like that in your memory? From year to year?

Are your brothers younger or older than you? If they are older, how did they respond to entering adulthood? If they are younger, do you feel like you need to warn them about anything?

Do you feel like you have a different perspective on the outside world than your classmates?

Are you going to get your own social security number? Found that answer

Thanks for the AMA!

BrightenTompkins65 karma

Good questions. They didn't call it unschooling, but I contacted an authority on homeschooling and she used that term. I had no grade segments, everything was all over the place. My brothers are younger and I responded to their needs—whether they had them yet or not—by getting CPS involved. I think I do have a different perspective, but it merely excludes any hate for school; I can't hate education or say school is boring because I know what it's like without school. It eats you up inside. You don't know the world or anything about it. It's like being a hollow shell, filling itself with nothing but bull from your parents.

Jim10519 karma

I have many questions.

What was life like growing up being homeschooled?

Did you have friends growing up?

Any girlfriends or crushes?

Do you drive?

Did you or your parents needed money while growing up? If so, what did you or your parents do for money?

BrightenTompkins40 karma

I wasn't homeschooled really. I recall one day when our mother made us, my brothers and I, put backpacks on and "walk to school" by running to a school bus in place. That was followed by getting a 3rd grade school quiz thrown at us that repeated itself over and over again and got—naturally—easier and more repetitive as I got older.

Blackjaqk2318 karma

If you could go back in time and turn yourself into a masterclass assassin who is hired for big hits and is virtually undetectable, would you do it? (Well considering it is possible, of course.)

BrightenTompkins20 karma

If they paid for my workouts, yes.

Rosssauced17 karma

Can you still get them if you like? That has to seriously effect your employment, credit, and healthcare access.

BrightenTompkins32 karma

Thankfully, I can still get them. It did affect a lot of crucial elements of my life. School and work being the top, but no one wants to ask their grandmothers to buy something for them because they don't have a Paypal or credit card at 18.

billbucket16 karma

Are you currently attempting to thrash Morty's Roy score?

BrightenTompkins38 karma

At this rate, I'm running my Roy score into the ground.

fleetingeyes15 karma

Have you seen "Capitan Fantastic"? If so, how much of that would you say you could "relate" to? (Sorry if repeat question)

BrightenTompkins12 karma

I watched the trailer and it was giving me flashbacks.

fireguzzi15 karma

Do you hold on to or believe any of the things your parents taught you?

BrightenTompkins30 karma

Not any of them.

greatertrocanter14 karma

Your story reminds me a lot of my family's story. While I have tried to rise above and move past our childhood, my sister never graduated high school or got a GED and now has 3 kids. The worst part is, one was born at home "on accident" and doesn't have a birth certificate. My sister says she has been trying to get one, but her kid is almost 3 now! Her other kids never finished their vaccination series but I believe they have birth certs. It's a mess. CPS has been to the house before because 2 out of the 3 babies tested positive for marijuana but the CPS people I think just offered parenting classes to my sister and her fiancé, which of course they declined. I've also called CPS on my sister before for various things but unless there is a clear and immediate threat it seems like they won't do much.

So my question to you is: is there anything an aunt, an uncle, a grandmother, friend, neighbor, etc., could have done in order to help your situation when you were younger? Or do you think things had to go down the way they did?

Edit: I just want to let you know I was also "homeschooled" but got my GED at 16 because they wanted to start me as a freshman at public school. It has taken a really, really long time because I've had to support myself but this year (June 2018) I'll finally be graduating from UC Davis with my bachelor's degree which has been a lifelong goal. If you ever need to chat, please please PM me! You can achieve whatever you want!!!

BrightenTompkins13 karma

My great aunt called CPS to try to get something done, but it never went anywhere because we were grounded in our parents ideology as well. It took waiting patiently until my brothers were thinking for themselves to make the call.

Justjack200114 karma

How did you learn to write so well?

BrightenTompkins58 karma

You think I write well? Thank you. I wrote a 450 page novel and read a lot of books. That helped the most. I also took a college-level online course and learned more through my adult school. I really love grammar and writing. Because it's important to me, I take my writing seriously.

minus713LG14 karma

Does it mean you do not need to pay taxes?

BrightenTompkins40 karma

Yes. But I want to.

wet-paint11 karma

Have you experienced any upside to your situation?

BrightenTompkins19 karma

Maybe an appreciation for the academic subjects, but I think I always would have loved to learn.

jonsayer11 karma

Have you heard of Alecia Faith Pennington, a young woman from Texas who is going through much the same thing you are? She was featured on Radio Lab earlier this year.


One issue she had was she can't get a drivers license. Have you tried to get one? Or do you know how to drive a car and just drive careful to not get pulled over?

EDIT: Alicia also posted this youtube video, which went viral: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPtpKNyaO0U

BrightenTompkins12 karma

I am going to get a driver's license. She actually got her social security number and driver's license. I love her; she helped me have hope.

aybayb25910 karma

How do you feel about movies like Captain Fantastic and The Glass Castle? I realize that you were not raised in the exact same situation as kids like these, but definitely similar. (Give them a search if you don't know what they are, great movies about parenting and living off the grid!) Do you think that they accurately portray aspects of your life, or of the lives of people you know, or are they pretty much heightened for the big screen?

BrightenTompkins4 karma

I've never even heard of those until now. Very similar.

cyn_sybil9 karma

Have you seen the movie The Wolfpack?

BrightenTompkins5 karma


zamboniman469 karma

How did you play in Little League?

BrightenTompkins12 karma

I didn't. :<

PeachesTheWalrus7 karma

Coheed and Cambria is that you?

BrightenTompkins15 karma

Welcome home, Peaches.

QueenCuttlefish7 karma

Reading through your responses was fascinating. You speak with eloquence and experience. What you've been through is herculean, to say the least. What astounds me the most was your ability to develop critical thinking and to use research to prove or disprove your beliefs. Your ability to interact with others online with dignity is something uncommon and admirable.

What was the process like for you to discern between conspiracy and truth? Considering the beliefs your parents had and the environment you were raised in, how did you come to understand those beliefs as incorrect? You could have dismissed resources (as weird as that sounds), like Khan Academy, as conspiracy and prescribed to believe in sites such as InfoWars and Breitbart, especially with the current state of the United States in which reality itself is challenged by people in power.

Personally, I find it difficult to legitimately listen to the viewpoints of people (like those who trust InfoWars, conspiracies, and other things like that). How do you interact with people like that while maintaining your own composure?

Is it possible your internet friends had some kind of influence on you to seek out something different from how you've lived all your life?

I really hope for the best for you. You have a bright future ahead and insurmountable potential.

BrightenTompkins25 karma

I had a group of people I met online that bullied me for my beliefs and were harsh. I changed when I tried to prove to them vaccines cause autism and found out they didn't. Whenever I come across extreme right wing or left wing people I keep my composure because being able to think critically means to exclude emotion and hold reason to the highest standard. The best critical thinkers exhale emotion and inhale evaluation, inference, the analytical, and reason. I follow Breitbart and Infowars not because I believe them but because keeping an open mind, to me, involves understanding them and their followers. Right wing folks and left wing folks are people and people have biases. If someone believes the Earth is flat, they can still be my friend, and I will still treat them with understanding and an open ear. If anyone can change them, it's someone who won't beat them down.

MakingMiraclesHappen6 karma

Do you know when your birthday is? Was it celebrated?

BrightenTompkins10 karma

First birthday was $30; second was $20; and twelfth was $0. It was pretty usual, ahaha. I did get presents, but my dad didn't like to give them.

AnActualGarnish6 karma

Would you rather have been “documented” as a child or now?

BrightenTompkins7 karma

As a child.

MrTingling5 karma

I'm late but do you think this should be allowed in the US? It would be completely unthinkable in Sweden where I live and social services would be all over it faster than you could utter your first börk.

BrightenTompkins5 karma

I think it should be illegal.

Spiwolf75 karma

What was a typical week like for you and your family before CPS? How hard was it to live this way? Did you have any other friends your age or met with any other "communes" that had kids you could talk to? Did you ever go into town or conversation with other people? We're there ever any medical emergencies that were beyond your family's abilities that had to be addressed?

BrightenTompkins8 karma

A typical week started with feeding our chickens followed by using Khan Academy to try and get better at math and code. I had a lot of stress with trying to figure out how to get out of the hole my parents made for me. I didn't have friends except for on the internet. We never had any medical emergencies because we never did anything big enough to get hurt; going outside being one of those. We went into town on occasion.

rau_reddit4 karma

Do you have any anger towards your parents for putting you in such a disadvantaged position in life?

BrightenTompkins8 karma


RedditConsciousness3 karma

It sounds like this was a bad situation and maybe that is usually the case but I can also kind of see what the parents were going for. It is...disappointing that in order to live in this society we need to have a government issued number. Do you think it is possible that as you get older you'll resent that you needed these pieces of paper to participate in society?

BrightenTompkins7 karma

No. I understand there are certain trade-offs to thriving in this society. As an oppressing body can't survive without participation and societal or military cooperation, neither can a liberating one.

can_NOT_drive_SOUTH3 karma

I'm assuming you're not vaccinated; Do you plan on becoming vaccinated?

BrightenTompkins13 karma

I got vaccinated a few months ago.

ClimateConscience-3 karma

If Trump an his goons come after you, what will you do? Do you have plans?

BrightenTompkins20 karma

Pfft. Don't you know I work for the globalist elite as a shadow agent? Warren Buffett has my back all the way.

ClimateConscience2 karma

What if he dies? What if the Kochs take over his empire?