Oprah Winfrey has discovered she has a half-sister – a Milwaukee woman who was given up for adoption by Winfrey’s mother nearly 50 years ago, when the TV talk show host was eight years old.
An emotional Winfrey introduced her newly found sibling to viewers and explained the woman’s persistent quest to find her birth mother.
“This, my friends, is the miracle of all miracles,” Winfrey said before bringing out the 48-year-old woman, who throughout the programme was identified only as Patricia, with no mention of her occupation or any other details.
After years of searching for blood relatives, the woman met Winfrey on Thanksgiving Day last November.
When Patricia was born in Milwaukee in 1963, the young Winfrey was living with her father and did not even know her mother was pregnant, she said.
Patricia, who Winfrey said bounced from foster home to foster home until she was adopted aged seven, had given up after previous searches for her mother.
But she decided to resume looking several years ago at the insistence of her grown children.
Winfrey’ mother Vernita Lee, who recently suffered a minor stroke, said she never told Winfrey about her half-sister, “because I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do, that I had done, gave up my daughter when she was born”.
Winfrey said documents from the girl’s birth reveal that Ms Lee gave up the baby for adoption because she did not think she could get off welfare if she kept the child.
Winfrey said she was particularly stunned by the news because of the way it came out. She said Patricia had known since 2007 that the two were related, but never attempted to profit off her discovery, even as she tried unsuccessfully to contact Winfrey, her mother or others in Winfrey’s family.