She has a long lost half-sister who was given up for adoption shortly after her birth.
Patricia, who reportedly was given up for adoption by Oprah’s mother, Vernita Lee, shortly after her birth in 1963.
Interestingly, Oprah has 2 other younger siblings who died–one ALSO named Patricia and a brother named Jeffrey. According to USA Today:
USA TODAY’s Judy Keen reports from Chicago that Patricia – whose last name was not revealed – lived in foster homes until she was 7, including some that were “not so good,” she said on Monday’s Oprah Winfrey Show.
Patricia said she always hoped her birth mother would return for her. By 17, she was a single mother. She has two grown children, a daughter and son.
“Oh my God, I have a family” was her reaction when she found out she had three siblings, Patricia said. One of those siblings, the only one still alive, was Winfrey.
Just before Thanksgiving, Winfrey said, she was told “a bombshell family secret.” The story would have become public and been “exploited” eventually, Winfrey said, “so I wanted you to hear it from me first.”
“Patricia is my half-sister who I never knew existed,” Winfrey said.
Winfrey said she had no idea her mother had given up a baby when she was 9 and living with her father Vernon Winfrey in Nashville.
Wow. And how did Patricia figure out the billionaire media maven is indeed her sibling? Her son researched Oprah’s mother Vernita Lee online after Vernita did an interview about her kids:
Patricia said she saw Lee in a TV interview discussing her three acknowledged children and began to put the pieces together.
Her son, Andre, went online and found the birthdates of Patricia’s siblings, including Winfrey. “We realized that Oprah could be my sister,” Patricia said. That was in 2007. Lee and Patricia both still live in Milwaukee.
Patricia kept her connection to Winfrey a secret because she worried it would create a media frenzy. “I did not want her hurt,” Patricia said.
And a spoiler on how their first reunion went on the show:
Winfrey called their first encounter “a beloved moment.”
“It’s not something I ever thought would happen to me,” Winfrey said.
She then brought Patricia on stage. Winfrey teared up as soon as she was seated beside her half-sister and clasped her hand.
Today’s show airs at 9am CT in Chicago, and 4p ET elsewhere in the country.