Her name was Jennifer and apparently she was my long-lost sister given up for adoption by my parents in 1987. The letter explained that Jennifer had always known that she was of Romanian heritage, but that it wasn't until she was turning sixteen that her adoptive parents decided to share the details of her birth. They revealed to her the names of her biological parents, and me, her biological sister. She wrote that she had been waiting four years to contact me directly.
I feel that I have one chance to show you and prove to you that I'm not some crazy person…I'm sure after seeing all of the papers, you'll see that I'm serious.
Is this possible? I thought. I tried to think back to 1987. I would've been six years old when Jennifer was born. Was my mother even pregnant? Why couldn't I remember? My life has been one bizarre adventure, filled with highs and lows, one headline after another…but a secret sibling? I sat in my car for what seemed like hours, repeatedly examining the contents of the package. The information was presented meticulously, like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece carefully and intentionally placed next to the other. The evidence was overwhelming.
The photographs hit me the hardest. The girl in the images looked exactly like my younger sister, Christina, born in 1989 when I was almost eight years old. Eventually I could see that while it was definitely not Christina, there was no doubt that she was a sister nonetheless—my sister. The resemblance was uncanny.
I have another sister!
How could something like this be kept a secret?
I was an only child for the first eight years of my life. My parents, Romanian immigrants, struggled to provide me a better life than the ones they had left in their homeland. They worked hard to give me every opportunity in life, and once I showed natural talent as a young gymnast, they spent every last penny on my training. My father ("Tata") often worked several jobs just to meet the financial burden of my escalating coaching and gym costs. My parents even relocated our family from city to city and state to state whenever necessary to meet my evolving gymnastic needs. According to Tata, I was destined for greatness, so I did my best not to disappoint my parents. By the age of seven I was a serious, committed gymnast, and by the age of nine I was receiving national attention and regarded as one of America's hopefuls. Standing on the podium at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and receiving a gold medal was the crowning jewel in a successful gymnastics career and, most certainly, the confirmation that my parents' sacrifices were not in vain. I took another look at the photos, took a deep breath, and called my parents in Houston.
"Hello?" Mama answered groggily.
"Did you give up a baby for adoption in 1987?" I blurted out. I knew I caught her by complete surprise and gave her a morning wake-up call she'd never forget, but sitting in my car, in the rain outside the post office, I needed answers.