This Girl Became a Successful Child Star after Bio Parents Gave Her up to Family Who Had ‘No Plans’ to Adopt

Why Was She Given Up for Adoption, and Who Took Her In?
On May 8, 1964, a future celebrity was born at The French Hospital in Los Angeles, a now-defunct medical facility. Just 24 hours later, she was welcomed into the home of Barbara Crane and Paul Gilbert, her adoptive parents.

Barbara and Paul also adopted her younger brother, Jonathan. While Paul initially pursued a career as an aerialist in a family circus from Buenos Aires before transitioning to stand-up comedy, acting, and dancing, Barbara’s acting career was short-lived.

When the little girl turned six, Barbara and Paul parted ways, with fond memories of him etched in his daughter’s heart:

“My father was the most incredibly talented, vivacious, funny, loving, fair person I ever knew.”

In 1976, Paul passed away, with many believing he succumbed to a stroke while asleep. The details of her adoption were never concealed.

In her memoir, “Prairie Tale: A Memoir,” the star disclosed that she was informed as a child that her biological mother, Kathy Wood, was a prima ballerina, while her father, David Darlington, was a Rhodes Scholar.

Her adoptive parents informed her that her birth parents decided to relinquish custody because they were unwilling to forgo their careers to raise her. Allegedly, her birth father was engrossed in a project at the time, making the timing of her birth inconvenient.

Upon reaching adulthood, she uncovered the truth about her biological parents. While her birth mother was indeed a dancer, she wasn’t a prima ballerina, and her father worked as a sign painter and a stock car racer.

Both Kathy and David were previously married and had three children each. They embarked on a relationship, conceived a child, and moved in together with their respective children before deciding they couldn’t afford another mouth to feed.

Adoptive Parents’ Surprising Decision
Following her adoptive father’s passing, the actress stumbled upon shocking revelations about her adoption. Her godmother, Mitzi, divulged details about the day her adoptive parents brought her home from the hospital.

It came as a surprise to the actress when the Gilberts returned with their newest addition. Alongside other family members, she looked to Barbara for an explanation, who candidly confessed:

“I mean, we had no plans to adopt a child.”

Barbara revealed that she and her husband hadn’t entertained the idea of adoption when they received a phone call about the availability of the little girl. She urgently contacted her husband, who was on the road, and he instructed her to “‘go get it.'”

The revelation that such a significant decision wasn’t premeditated shocked the actress. Barbara clarified that, at that point, she hadn’t been born yet. Later, Barbara revealed that they were undergoing fertility treatments but hadn’t considered adoption until they received the call.

Despite her adoptive family’s attempts to keep the adoption a secret, the actress learned about it in her early years. However, the full extent of her adoptive father’s demise remained concealed until adulthood.

Family Secrets Unveiled
During an interview with “CBS Sunday Morning,” the celebrity disclosed that she was informed at age 11 that her father passed away from a stroke. However, at age 45, she learned that he had died by suicide.

This revelation had been kept from everyone in her life, including herself. Recognizing the harm such secrets could inflict on families, she vowed never to withhold such crucial information from her own children.

She hired a detective to unravel the truth about her adoptive father’s death. The investigation unveiled that the late World War II veteran, plagued by excruciating pain while under VA care, threatened to take his own life, a promise he tragically fulfilled.

Upon learning the truth about Paul, she grappled with intense emotional turmoil for six months, unable to eat or sleep. However, she eventually made peace with his decision, advocating for mental health awareness and suicide prevention in his memory.

Despite harboring feelings of betrayal and resentment toward Barbara for concealing the truth, the actress eventually forgave her. The identity of the celebrity and her current life are unveiled in the subsequent chapter.

Who Is the Star Once Abandoned but Later Thrived as an Actress?
The star in question is Melissa Gilbert, best known for portraying Laura “Half-Pint” Ingalls Wilder in the beloved series “Little House on the Prairie” from 1974 to 1983. In July 2022, she released her memoir, “Back to the Prairie,” and now dedicates her time to her family.

Expressing gratitude for her blessings, Gilbert reflects on her life’s journey, contrasting her current contentment with the struggles of her late adoptive father. She wishes Paul could have experienced the joy of grandchildren and the love of a supportive life partner.

Melissa Gilbert, now married to her third husband Timothy Busfield, found love unexpectedly in 2012 amidst the turmoil of Busfield’s second divorce. Their serendipitous meeting in an empty bar led to a blossoming romance, culminating in a small yet intimate wedding ceremony in April 2013 in Santa Barbara, California.

For her special day, Melissa chose a stunning dress from Morgane Le Faye, suggested by her mother Barbara, who accompanied her during the dress shopping. The ceremony, attended only by the couple, was a private affair, with Melissa and Timothy exchanging vows in the presence of their love and commitment.

Melissa, known for her iconic role in “Little House on the Prairie,” has embraced motherhood throughout her life. Her first child, son Dakota Paul Brinkman, was born from her marriage to actor Bo Brinkman.

Her second child, Michael Garrett Boxleitner, came during her marriage to Bruce Boxleitner. Timothy Busfield also brought three children into their blended family: Samuel, Daisy, and Wilson.

Now residing in a serene 14-acre Catskill Mountain cottage in New York, Melissa and Timothy enjoy the tranquility of their surroundings as they cherish their family and the joy of grandparenthood, with a total of eight grandchildren between them.