Imagine finding out that your birth sister is, in fact, one of your athletic role models: an Olympian! That is what happened to Jen Bricker, who learned as a teen that her birth sister is Dominique Moceanu. Like sister, like sister: Jen was also a gymnast, albeit one who was born without legs.
I am a huge fan of Dominique’s, and I read about her reunion with Jen in Dominique’s memoir, Off Balance. When I heard that Jen was writing her own book, I knew I had to read it.
First, a heads up. Jen Bricker is a staunch Christian, and Everything is Possible: Finding the Faith and Courage to Follow Your Dreams is full of her enthusiasm for Jesus. She also uses the phrases “abandoned” and “gave up” to describe her adoption, and believes that her adoption was meant to be. This is a recurring theme in the book, and may be triggering for some adoptees or birth/first parents.
I thought that Everything is Possible would be mostly about her adoption, but it’s actually a relatively small portion of the book. If you aren’t already familiar with her adoption story though, I won’t spoil anything here! The Brickers approached teaching Jen about her adoption differently than we do, in that they kept some information from her for years, but every family is different and Jen says she is happy with how her parents handled everything.
Much of the book centers on Jen’s approach to life, and how she’s overcome obstacles to become an aerialist. Amniotic band syndrome caused her to be born without legs, but that is not an obstacle as far as Jen is concerned. However, it gives many people around her pause. She and her parents decided to live her life without accommodations, and Jen has worked twice as hard to prove that she is as capable as anyone else. For example, she writes that when she was a child she asked her parents to buy her roller skates:
“[I] never even considering that I might need feet to put on roller skates…I asked my parents to take met the store to buy a pair of skates, which they did, without any hesitation…If I thought I could skate, then my parents believed notably that I could but also that I would. I put the skates on my hands and off I went. It took me a while to make it all the way around the rink – and even longer to learn how to skate backward. But I simply refused to quit trying. And when I did make it around, everyone applauded. I felt like such a star!”
Not everyone was supportive of Jen’s pursuits, though. At times jealous gymnasts accused her of having an unfair advantage (yes, really) and doors for aerialist jobs were shut for a long time. People were afraid that Jen wouldn’t be capable, or that she would get hurt. Persistence, and a belief that God is with her, kept Jen pushing forward.
If you’re looking for a quick read and an upbeat book, then Everything is Possible is for you. You’ll finish it feeling more hopeful and motivated to pursue your goals.