The thrill of winning Olympic gold at age 14 was no match for the shock of a lifetime gymnast Dominique Moceanu said she received a few years ago.
Moceanu, one of the darlings of the famed 1996 Olympic women's gymnastics team that stole America's hearts, revealed she has a long-lost sister who was born with no legs.
“It was the biggest bombshell of my life," Moceanu, now 30, told ABC’s “20/20.”
Moceanu learned the news two weeks before giving birth to a daughter of her own in 2007. A package came with photos of a 20-year-old woman and a letter explaining she was her sister who had been adopted as a baby and had just recently learned her birth name.
At the time, Moceanu was estranged from her parents, Dimitry and Camelia Moceanu, from whom she filed for emancipation at age 17.
When she confronted her parents about the woman’s story, they admitted they had given the baby up for adoption after learning the girl had a medical problem that they couldn't afford to treat.
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! Anyway, right before I turned sixteen, I was asking my mom if there was anything she had not told me about my adoption, and I was expecting her to say “no” because they (my parents) never kept any secrets from me, but she said “yes.” There was something she had not told me yet. She said that I would never believe her, so she told me that my biological last name was “Moceanu” and proceeded to show me the papers I sent you.
I almost could not believe it myself. You had been my idol my whole life, and you turned out to be my sister! I was in extreme disbelief, and my immediate thought was that I wanted to meet you and let you know! So my whole family had known for quite a while, but they had to wait until I was older for a lot of different reasons to tell me, which was the right thing to do.
My uncle is a retired private investigator, and he got in contact with Dumitru, your father. He talked to your father, and he did not deny that I was their biological child, but he would not return my uncle’s phone calls after that. So we stopped trying to contact you for a while because I did not want to seem pushy and I wanted to do this right. I feel that I have one chance to show you and prove to you that I’m not some crazy person, but I’m sure after seeing all of the papers, you’ll see that I’m serious. I’ve been a member of your website almost since the day I found out. 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 realize this must be a lot for you to take in right now, I mean, it is a lot for me too, but I’ve had a lot of years to soak it all in. I’ve been trying ever since I was sixteen (I’m now twenty) to think of the right way to get in contact with you. I thought about it almost every day. I would see different things on your website and see pictures of you and Christina and think, I wonder if they even know about me? I really hope we can get in contact; I would love that more than anything in the world!!
If you still for some reason do not believe me and the papers, 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. If you want to call me my number is (redacted). Please do not hesitate to call, I would really LOVE to hear from you, and I hope all is well!!
Dominque's memoir Off Balance comes out today!
More info at the source and book excerpt