Jennifer Bricker relives moment she discovered Dominique Moceanu is her SISTER

by 08/10/2015 19:26:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Jennifer Bricker, 27, tracked down Dominique Moceanu when she was 20
  • The Romanian-born gymnast didn't know her parents had had a third child
  • Jennifer was put for adoption by her parents, who had another daughter 

By Bianca London for MailOnline and Sarah Barns For Mail Online

Published: 22:14 GMT, 8 October 2015 | Updated: 23:26 GMT, 8 October 2015

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An acrobat who was born with no legs and beat the odds to become a champion gymnast says she's no different to anyone else.   

Due to a genetic defect, Jennifer Bricker, 27, from Los Angeles, was born with no legs but has never considered her missing limbs a disability. 

Speaking on TLC's Body Bizarre, which has aired in the UK, Jennifer, who now lives and works in Hollywood as a professional aerialist and acrobat, said: 'As a kid I didn’t understand why people thought I was an inspiration.

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Jennifer Bricker relives the moment she contacted her sister Dominique

Jennifer Bricker relives the moment she contacted her sister Dominique

Jennifer,. who performs professionally, shows off her acrobatic skills with a partner

Jennifer,. who performs professionally, shows off her acrobatic skills with a partner

Dominique Moceanu wrote about discovering she had a long lost sister in her 2012 memoir, Off Balance

Dominique Moceanu wrote about discovering she had a long lost sister in her 2012 memoir, Off Balance

She added: 'I’m just like my friend. She’s tumbling, I’m tumbling. She’s playing softball, I’m playing softball. What’s the difference?

'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.' 

Jennifer, who grew up in a tiny community in Illinois, has a condition caused by an extremely rare birth defect, which, for Jennifer, came with no further medical complications. 

Jennifer was adopted at three months old by Sharon and Gerald Bricker, who raised her alongside their three older sons.

Jennifer said: 'My parents told me, from as early as I can remember, that I was adopted, that my ethnicity was Romanian. They gave me self-esteem, encouragement, love, support and confidence. It had a huge impact on who I am today.'

The youngster, who was crowned power tumbling champion of Illinois at age 11, and says she 'came out of the womb, a gymnast', grew up inspiring everyone around her, yet her own idol was Dominique Moceanu, the youngest member of the US gymnastics team who won Olympic Gold.

Jennifer says she 'came out of the womb a gymnast' and demonstrates her skills on the mats

Jennifer says she 'came out of the womb a gymnast' and demonstrates her skills on the mats

Jennifer, who grew up in Illinois, unaware she had siblings, pictured as a child with her friends

Jennifer, who grew up in Illinois, unaware she had siblings, pictured as a child with her friends

'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.' she said.

'She had that spunky little personality just like me. As a child I just related to her. I just saw that we were one and the same.'

Then when she turned 16, Jennifer realised she and Dominique had something else in common.

Jennifer said: '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.'

But four years passed before Jennifer could gather all the proof she needed to approach her biological sister who didn't know she existed.

In her memoir, Off Balance, Dominique reprints the letter Jennifer sent her in December 2007, which was printed in the New York Post.

Jen shows off her talent on the bar despite being born without any legs

Jen shows off her talent on the bar despite being born without any legs

Jen plays volleyball on Santa Monica beach with friends last year

Jen plays volleyball on Santa Monica beach with friends last year

Jen Bricker performs a handstand by balancing on a fence overlooking Santa Monica beach

Jen Bricker performs a handstand by balancing on a fence overlooking Santa Monica beach

The letter 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 was 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!'

After explaining that her uncle, a retired private investigator got in touch with Dominique's father Dumitru, but that he stopped returning their phone calls. 

Jennifer went on to write: 'I saw pictures of Christina, and you would not believe how much we look alike, it’s so crazy. The first time I saw a picture of her I got chills; my friends and family thought it was me on the computer! 

'I would even take a DNA test if you wanted, just to prove it. I’m up for anything; I just have already lost all of these years without ever meeting or knowing my two sisters.'

Olympic gold medal-winning Dominique, 34, from Cleveland, Ohio, remembers the moment she met her long-lost sibling, after initial phone calls to get to know each other.

Dominique Moceanu stands with her parents Dumitru and Camelia Moceanu before a state district judge in October 1998. She gained independence from her parents and the obtained a protective order against her father

Dominique Moceanu stands with her parents Dumitru and Camelia Moceanu before a state district judge in October 1998. She gained independence from her parents and the obtained a protective order against her father

Dominique Moceanu was part of the 'magnificent seven' gymnasts who helped win gold for the US in the Atlanta in 1996

Dominique Moceanu was part of the 'magnificent seven' gymnasts who helped win gold for the US in the Atlanta in 1996

She said: '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.'

In fact, Jennifer is the middle child of three sisters who had been put up for adoption at birth because of their father's fears at the costs of caring for a disabled child.

Jennifer said: '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.'

The discovery was 'a hard thing to take' says Dominique who was filled with rage at the news.

Jen Bricker was given up for adoption by her parents who didn't think they could afford to raise a disabled child
Jen Bricker was an active child despite her disability

Jen Bricker, pictured as a baby (left) and as a small child (right) was put up for adoption by her parents worried they wouldn't be able to afford to care for a disabled daughter

Jen Bricker poses at a gymnastics gym in LA, where she trains in the field she loves

Jen Bricker poses at a gymnastics gym in LA, where she trains in the field she loves

Jen, who lives in Studio City, LA, and has an uncanny resemblance to her sisters poses on her roof 

Jen, who lives in Studio City, LA, and has an uncanny resemblance to her sisters poses on her roof 

Jen shows off her amazing acrobatic skills that have seen her win awards and star in Britney Spears' Circus tour

Jen shows off her amazing acrobatic skills that have seen her win awards and star in Britney Spears' Circus tour

Ironically of the three girls, Jennifer never had medical problems and was brought up in a loving home. However Dominique's childhood was difficult and she sued her parents for legal independence when she was 17.

Jennifer's birth father has passed away but she met her biological mother and is now close to her sisters. 

Now an aerialist and acrobat who was featured in Britney Spears' Circus Tour, Jennifer features in Dominique's memoir, Off Balance.

She continues to inspire with her attitude to life, saying: 'Doing new challenges and putting yourself out there absolutely affects me and every other part of my life, when you challenge yourself, you put yourself in an uncomfortable position, always growth comes from that. 

'When you’re growing, you’re inspired. You inspire yourself, and then others.'

More on Girl with a Split Face: Body Bizarre airs on TLC.

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