Matt’s Moments: Ultimate test of nature vs. nurture


OBLONG, Ill. (WTHI) – How much of who you are is natural and how much is your up bringing?

High in the air, dangling among two silk sheets, Jen Bricker tells a tale with her aerial acrobatics.

“I think I am a true half and half of nature versus nurture,” she said. “So much of me is who I am because of how I was raised and who I was raised with and so much of me is the DNA.”

It’s a career she never dreamed of, but when you get to know her, it’s in her nature.

Jen was adopted by the Bricker family when she was three months old. Raised in Oblong, Ill.,

she would never know her biological parents.

But that’s okay because Jen required a different type of nurturing.

“I had no idea I was different. I competed in sports just like everybody else; basketball, softball, power tumbling, volleyball…” Jen said. “It wasn’t a disabled sport because in my head I was like everyone else.”

Each sport, which should have been a road block, never stopped her. Especially her favorite: Gymnastics.

“I mean 6 to 7 years old watching the Olympics and the big meets that were televised and my favorite gymnast that I was always drawn to since I could remember was Domoniqu Moceanu, it’s like it was just ingrained in me when I was born,” Jen explained

However, that family tree was still unknown until her adopted mother dropped a bomb on her.

“She says ‘You’re never gonna believe me, but your biological last name is Moceanu.’”

Are you surprised? Imagine being Jen.

“That means that the girl that I watched on TV, the girl that I idolized that I was her biggest fan, that she was my biological sister…”

Making Jen the middle daughter of that gymnastic family. All those years away, nature tried to poke its way through.

“All three of us we all had butterfly tattoos on our backs when we met, just the same like in foods, same handwriting all these things… ”

The athleticism, the natural draw to gymnastics… it all made sense. In a way, before she even met her sisters, she was already following their footsteps.

“Gymnastics and aerial are, you can definitely cross over,” Jen said. “If you were a gymnast you can be an aerialist, but they are very different because when you’re an aerialist you’re performing and it can be very emotional…”

A Friday evening in March, their two worlds collided.

Dominque watching Jen perform with the community that raised her and there was Jen telling her story high in the air.

Nature working hand in hand with nurture. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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