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Oprah Winfrey's family secret: A half-sister, Patricia

Oprah Winfrey has a sister Oprah Winfrey has a half-sister, the talk-show host announced Monday, introducing the Milwaukee woman only as Patricia and calling the turn of events "the miracle of all miracles."

It was a years-long search that led Patricia, who was born in 1963 and given up for adoption, to a seat on her famous half-sister's talk show. Oprah, born in 1954, was living with her father at the time and said she didn't even know her mom was pregnant.

Vernita Lee, the women's mother, said she never told Oprah about Patricia "because I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do, that I had done, gave up my daughter when she was born." Adoption documents showed that Lee didn't think she could get off welfare if she kept the baby girl.

Patricia had researched her adoption and was told in 2007 that her birth mother had been contacted and did not want to meet her; coincidentally she saw a local TV interview that day with Lee and realized then and in the days that followed that family details matched up in a way that meant she could be related to Oprah.

"She never once thought to sell the story," Oprah said. Patricia instead managed to contact Winfrey's niece, and after a DNA test proved those two were related, it was only a matter of time before the  half-sisters would meet. Oprah learned of the news before a show in October.

"Family business should be handled by family," Patricia said, as to why she didn't contact the press, even after she struck out a few times trying to contact her mother. "It couldn't be handled by anyone else. That's not fair. It wouldn't be fair to you."

Stedman Graham drove Oprah to Milwaukee to meet Patricia on Thanksgiving Day, and the host shared video footage of the meeting with her audience.

In announcing that her show would wrap in 2011, Winfrey promised "we are going to knock your socks off."

Uh, you think? Does the Australia trip even hold a candle to this surprise? And, hey, Barbara Walters — you missed a question.

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— Christie D'Zurilla

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Oprah Winfrey at the Women's Conference in Long Beach on Oct. 26. Credit: Jonathan Alcorn / Bloomberg.


 
Comments () | Archives (12)

Soooo long Gayle

oprah made a mistake about having a halh sister. the bible says that those born of the same mother are full blood sisters and brothers. those born with the same father but different mothers are half sisters and brothers

I'm shocked, I tell ya' shocked...yaaaaawwwnnnn!

I agree with allen tillman, those born of the same woman , same womb are not half Oprah should stop calling Patricia half sister. They are whole

Ok, sorry, but just because the bible says that children born of the same mother are full blood sisters and brothers does not make that true. People born of the same mother and different fathers have some genetic composition from their respective fathers and are not full blood sisters or brothers.

Dear Oprah: I just watched your show today regarding your half sister, and your family secret.
It takes me back to when Sarah Palin was on your show, and she was saying she wished the GOP would have let her speak about her daughters pregnancy to help women not take the easy way out and get an abortion.
I was quite disturbed by her comments, and I knew then that whatever a womanchooses to do regarding child birth there are consequences. Consequences that only she lives with throughout her life. It breaks my heart, and I am so grateful that your mother was able to face whatever she may have needed to face in her lifetime. My mother also had a secret, that I found out about after her death, and it also broke my heart that she couldn't bare the "shame" to tell my sister and I. Life is full of mystery and we all have the opportunity to face ourselves. Thank you for listening. Rika Rich

Dear Oprah, It is God's blessing that you and your sister were to be united. It is also his blessing that you now have the opportunity to build a loving relationship with each other and each other's families. What a blessing!!! God bless you both and I will continually lift you and your family up in prayer. Thanks for sharing as I share the sentiment with you.

I was fascinated by the whole story. It is riveting on so many levels and I love that Patricia feels such wholeness now, however, I am torn about the right and avenues that adopted children have when yearning to find their birth
parents. I think it is worth noting that giving birth and choosing adoption
has multiple emotions and realities. I feel that the privacy and choice and courage and even the individual ability to cope with parting with ones own child, must be respected. I feel birth mothers who chose to give up their offspring in privacy should be respected. Afterall, no matter the circumstances, it is that moment of conception that gave adopted child their
life afterall. The courageous mothers should be held in high honor.

Oprah I am so happy for you and your sister whom is a gift from GOD. When I was a little girl my grandfather told me you don"t say half you just say sister. I saw into your heart that your sister have filled that sad feeling you get sometime. GOD open this door for you. your sister look like my sister in north carolina . Family have to come together and love each other. Your sister have so much love for you because she didn"t want to hurt you she just needed you to be her sister that she losted so long ago. MAY GOD BE THE GLORY. Oprah I hope you read this my son was killed in washington,DC NEVER FOUND THE KILLER HIS NAME IS STERLING LINDSEY . THE CASE IS CALLED COLD CASE. i WOULD LIKE FOR YOU TO DO A SHOW ON STERLING. hE WASSHOOT IN MARCH 11 20003. MY HEART BREAKS EVER DAY. hE WAS 23 WHEN HE DIED . tHE DETECTIVES DIDN"T TRY. GOD BLESS YOU OPRAH and your sister

I want to marry for the half sister for Opra so she is give me half the money.

Does she have two sisters named Patricia Lee-LLoyd because the news paper said in 2003 that Oprah's sister died of a drug overdose and Oprah tried to keep every thing hush hush. Is she lying about her sister cause she embarassed? It lookslike she hired an actress to play her sister, since her sister died. If anyone doen't belive my just look it up.

jill - the patricia who died was her sister (not half), different from this patricia - oprah did grow up with her. if you watched the show, you'd have seen - they discussed her sister patricia, and her children were even there. oprah's not hiding her or her story (she is deceased).


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