A Los Angeles woman who rose to become a champion gymnast, despite being orphaned and born without legs, shares her amazing story of finding out who her birth parents are.
Due to a shattering birth defect, Jennifer Bricker, now 28, was born with no legs. Her parents deserted her at the hospital on the day she was born, according to Little Things.
At three months old, she was adopted by Sharon and Gerald Bricker, who reared her alongside their three older sons.
"My parents told me, from as early as I can remember, that I was adopted, that my ethnicity was Romanian," Jennifer told the Daily Mail. "They gave me self-esteem, encouragement, love, support and confidence. It had a huge impact on who I am today."
Jennifer had a knack for gymnastics and was crowned power tumbling champion of Illinois at 11-years-old. She says she “came out of the womb, a gymnast.”
Her idol was Dominique Moceanu, the youngest member of the U.S. gymnastics team and an Olympic gold medalist. “I always had such a connection to her, immediately. I saw myself in her, she was small and I was small. I knew she was Romanian, I was Romanian,” Jennifer said.
Little did Jennifer know, she had a lot more in common with Dominique than a passion for gymnastics.
“I asked my mom if there was anything she knew about my biological family that I didn’t know so she goes and gets this big folder just full of papers and she says, you’re never going to believe this but your biological last name is Moceanu. I knew exactly when she said that my childhood idol was my sister.”
Four years passed before Jennifer could acquire all the evidence she need to contact Dominique, according to the Daily Mail.
Eventually, Jennifer sent her biological sister a letter. It read:
Hi Dominique, My name is Jennifer Bricker. I’m not sure whether or not you have read the papers I sent you, but if you have, let me explain what they are all about. I’ve known my whole life that I was adopted and that my heritage is Romanian. Ever since I was about six years old, I’ve been obsessed with gymnastics and I always watched you on TV. In fact, you were kind of my inspiration to start competing myself!
Jennifer told Dominique that her uncle, who was a retired private investigator, was in communication with Dominique’s father, Dumitru Moceanu. However, Dumitru cut off contact and didn’t return phone calls.
The girls started chatting via phone to get to know each other. After that, 34-year-old Dominique and Jennifer finally met in person.
“I had a sister and I never even knew it. It was the Moceanu gene for sure. The features, the tones in her voice, her handwriting, the way we laugh and chuckle. It’s mind-blowing,” says Dominique.
Turns out, Jennifer is the middle child of three sisters who were all put up for adoption because Dumitru did not want to care for disabled children.
“The DNA was so apparent, when I met my younger sister Christina especially, it was like looking in the mirror. It was like looking your twin in the mirror, it was just crazy,” says Jennifer.
The revelation was “a hard thing to take” and filled Dominique with anger.
Jennifer’s biological father died, but she met with her biological mother and is now close with her sisters.
“People ask about my challenges in life and what I’ve overcome and things like that but growing up, you have to understand, I was never treated any different by my family or my school or my teachers or my coaches or my peers so growing up was the easy part.”