Melissa Gilbert, the beloved actress from “Little House on the Prairie,” has a remarkable story of adoption, family secrets, and self-discovery. Born on May 8, 1964, in Los Angeles, Melissa was adopted by Barbara Crane and Paul Gilbert when she was just 24 hours old.

Growing up, Melissa was told that her biological parents were a prima ballerina and a Rhodes Scholar, but the truth was far from it. Her biological mother was a dancer, and her father was a sign painter and stock car racer.

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

They were already married to other people and had three children each, but they ran off together and got pregnant with Melissa. Unable to afford another child, they gave her up for adoption.

Melissa’s adoptive parents, Barbara and Paul, were not planning to adopt a child, but they received a call about Melissa’s availability, and Paul told Barbara to “go get it.” Barbara later explained that they were going through fertility treatments and hadn’t discussed adoption until then.

As Melissa grew up, she uncovered secrets about her family, including the truth about her adoptive father’s death. She was told he died from a stroke, but at age 45, she discovered he had died by suicide. This revelation led to a painful period of acceptance and forgiveness.

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

Melissa has since become an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. She has also forgiven her adoptive mother, Barbara, for keeping the truth from her.

Today, Melissa is married to her third husband, Timothy Busfield, and they live a quiet life in a 14-acre cottage in New York, surrounded by their eight grandchildren.

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

Melissa’s journey is a testament to the power of self-discovery and forgiveness. Despite the secrets and betrayals, she has found peace and happiness, and her story inspires others to do the same.

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