A Story of Jennifer Bricker
Birth defects are becoming more common in the U.S. Almost 120,000 babies a year are affected by a birth defect. Jennifer Bricker was one of them. When Jennifer was born on October 1, 1987, the doctor did not think she would survive. Jennifer had no legs and her heart was on the opposite side of her chest. But, she did not let these barriers stop her. Jennifer shows us that having the will and determination to succeed provides you the strength to conquer anything.
Jennifer’s biological parents, Camelia Staicu Moceanu and Dumitru Moceanu, abandoned and left her in an orphanage in Romania because they were worried they could not care or pay for a child with two birth defects. After a few months of being in the orphanage, Jennifer was adopted by an American family, Gerald and Sharon Bricker, who raised her in a small town in Illinois with three brothers. Even though they already had 3 sons, Gerald and Sharon were unsettled that a mother would leave her child that has disabilities, which is what triggered them to adopt her. They believed they could give Jennifer a family who would love, care for, and nurture her. Her parents accepted her and did not put any limitations on her abilities.
After moving in with the Bricker’s, there was one doctor who thought Jennifer would not be able to walk and advised her parents to get a bucket to carry Jennifer around in. Her parents dismissed this. They wanted Jennifer to be treated as a normal child and didn’t want her to feel different from the other kids. Soon after this doctor’s appointment, Jennifer learned to walk and run using her hands. She even started climbing on trees and jumping on their trampoline. When Jen turned 3, she was fitted for prosthetic legs, but never ended up getting them. She felt that she could move better and more freely without them.
In her family there was one rule: “Never say can’t”. Her parents thought that if you believed this then you could accomplish anything. Ever since Jennifer was adopted they have always encouraged her to pursue her dreams no matter the obstacles. So even though Jennifer did not have any legs, she never saw herself as disabled. She grew up playing softball, basketball, and even volleyball, but her true passion was for gymnastics. Jennifer grew up loving gymnastics. She was obsessed with gymnastics and always watched it on TV or on youtube. But, Jennifer idolized one gymnast in particular. Dominique Moceanu. Dominique was an American gymnast and a member of the, Magnificent Seven, the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team that won in 1996. She was drawn to watch Dominique because they looked so alike and they were both from Romania. In Jennifer’s words, ”I saw myself in her in so many ways and that was a big deal for me”.
The Bricker’s were always been supportive and even motivated Jennifer to learn about her birth parents. They would tell her that she didn’t walk in their shoes and she didn’t know what was going on in their life at the time they left her. At the age of 16, Jennifer finally asked her mother if she had told Jennifer everything she knew about her birth parents. To Jennifer’s surprise, her mother did want to tell her something. Her mother sat her down and told Jennifer that her biological last name would have been Moceanu. Jennifer immediately responded by saying, “Wow, that means Dominique is my sister!”.
After hearing this news, Jennifer immediately wanted to get in touch with Dominique. Jennifer’s uncle was a private investigator, so Jennifer asked him if he could contact her birth parents. He got their contact information and Jennifer called them. They admitted to putting her up for adoption, but after that phone call they didn’t respond to any more. She realized they did not want anyone to know about her. Jennifer did not let her birth parents keep her from talking to her sister. So Jennifer wrote her sister a letter four years later. In the letter she talked about her situation and how Dominique had been her idol who inspired her to pursue gymnastics.
When Dominique received the letter she couldn’t believe it. She had been in shock. Dominique called her mom to ask if it was true, and it was. Within the next few weeks, Dominique wanted to write back to Jennifer. She explained to Jennifer that she was pregnant and it wasn’t the best time to get in touch. Dominique’s baby was born on December 25, Christmas Day, and a few weeks later decided to call Jennifer. That spring, Dominique, Jennifer, and their younger sister Christina got together for the first time ever in Ohio and got to know each other better.
Jennifer has grown up to be an incredible woman and an example to everyone. She has pushed through and overcome obstacles to become the person she is today. She has even written three books, is a motivational speaker, and is an adoption advocate. She has helped inspire others to reach their fullest potential. Jennifer says, “I believe God wants to use me as an example to move people in a profound way.” Jennifer’s story is truly a demonstration of never letting any obstacles get in your way of reaching your goals.