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

This celebrity’s biological parents gave her up for adoption when she was just a baby.

The star’s birth parents didn’t want her when she was born because their careers meant more to them.

The actress’ adoptive parents lied about her background until the truth came out.

Paul Gilbert, their daughter, and Barbara Crane at the 4th Annual People's Choice Awards on February 20, 1978 | Source: Getty Images

On May 8, 1964, the future celebrity was born in a Los Angeles hospital called The French Hospital, which no longer exists. When she was only 24 hours old, the star was taken in by Barbara Crane and Paul Gilbert, her adoptive parents.

The pair also adopted her younger brother, Jonathan. Paul was a stand-up comic, actor, and dancer but started as an aerialist with a family circus from Buenos Aires, Barbara was an actress in her twenties, but her career was short-lived. When the little girl was six, Barbara and Paul separated, with his daughter recalling him fondly, saying:

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

In 1976, Paul passed on with people thinking he’d died from a stroke while sleeping. Her adoption wasn’t kept a secret. In her book, “Prairie Tale: A Memoir,” the star said she was told as a child that her biological mother, Kathy Wood, was a prima ballerina while her father, David Darlington, had been a Rhodes Scholar.

Her adoptive parents said her birth parents weren’t interested in giving up their careers to bring her up. The celebrity’s father was said to have been in the middle of a project, and the timing of the birth was off, so they gave their daughter up.

When she was old enough, she found out the real truth about her biological parents. Her birth mother was indeed a dancer but not a prima ballerina, and David worked as a sign painter and a stock car racer.

Both Kathy and David were initially married to other people, and each had three children. The pair ran off, got pregnant, and then moved in with their children but decided they couldn’t afford their seventh one.

Adoptive Parents Didn’t Want Her
After her adoptive father passed away, the actress was shocked to find more details about her adoption. Her godmother, Mitzi, delved into the day her adoptive parents fetched her from the hospital.

She confessed it was a shock when the Gilberts returned with their new child. The actress was surprised by this and, along with other family members, turned to look at Barbara, who admitted:

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

Barbara said she and her husband weren’t looking for a child when they got a phone call that the little girl would be available. The star’s adoptive mother called her husband, who was on the road, and he told her to “‘go get it.’”

She told the interviewer that keeping such a deep secret wasn’t something she’d do to her children…
She was shocked to hear herself being called an “it,” but Barbara explained that at that point, she hadn’t been born yet. Later, Barbara told her they had been trying to get pregnant when they were informed about her impending arrival.

The couple was going through fertility treatments, but until they received the call, the Gilberts hadn’t discussed the option of adoption, according to Barbara. In a July 2020 interview, the actress shared how secretive her adoptive family was.

The Family Secrets
While speaking to “CBS Sunday Morning,” the celebrity revealed that at age 11, she was told her father died from a stroke. However, at age 45, she discovered that he’d died by suicide.

The secret was kept from everyone in the star’s life, including herself. She told the interviewer that keeping such a deep secret wasn’t something she’d do to her children as such secrets were quite damaging to families.

The actress hired a detective to find out what truly happened to her adoptive father. The detective discovered that the late World War II veteran was in extreme pain while under VA care and threatened to commit suicide, which he did.

When she discovered the truth about Paul, for around six months, she couldn’t eat or sleep as she battled the pain of losing her father that way. However, she’s since accepted it and honors his choice while keeping his memory alive by becoming an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

An actress seen at the Santa Monica Bowling Alley in Santa Monica on January 23, 1982 | Source: Getty Images

After feeling betrayed and resentful for a long time, the star also accepted and forgave Barbara for her choice to hide the truth. The name of the celebrity and what type of life she has now is revealed in the next chapter.

Who Is the Star Who Was Once Abandoned but Later Became a Well-Known Actress?
The actress is Melissa Gilbert, who is well-loved as Laura “Half-Pint” Ingalls Wilder from the beloved series “Little House on the Prairie” from 1974 until 1983. In July 2022, she released her memoir, “Back to the Prairie,” and now spends her time with her family.

The star confessed to being “blessed” and notes how she’s in a different place compared to her late adoptive father. Her wish is for Paul to have known the joy grandchildren brought and the love of a life partner who makes you feel safe, cherished, and heard.

Melissa is married to her third husband, Timothy Busfield, and in May 2022, they were grandparents to a combined eight grandchildren. In 2012, Busfield was dealing with his second divorce when he walked into an empty bar and saw the actress waiting for a friend.

Melissa Gilbert and her husband Timothy Busfield at a photocall during the 62nd Monte Carlo TV Festival on June 20, 2023, in Monte-Carlo, Monaco | Getty Images

The couple held a small ceremony in April 2013 in Santa Barbara, California, to tie the knot with Melissa wearing a Morgane Le Faye dress. Barbara was the one who suggested the brand’s Santa Monica store when her daughter couldn’t decide what she wanted.

In her “Back to the Prairie” book, she revealed that the private affair, where Busfield wore a blue suit, didn’t have guests, as it was just the two of them. The celebrity, who spent almost all her life in Hollywood, welcomed her first child son, Dakota Paul Brinkman, from her first marriage to actor Bo Brinkman.

Melissa’s second child, Michael Garrett Boxleitner, came when she married her second husband, Bruce Boxleitner. Busfield was also a parent of three children, Samuel, Daisy, and Wilson, and he and his wife now live quietly in a 14-acre Catskill Mountain cottage in New York.