Oprah Winfrey revealed on her television show Monday morning that she has a half sister she knew nothing about.
The sister, Patricia, had been kept a secret by Oprah’s mother who put her up for adoption at birth.
“For the most part my life has been an open book,” Oprah said. “I thought nothing could surprise me but I was wrong.”
Winfrey said she chose to make the announcement herself so the media would not exploit it. Her sister, Patricia, spoke about being put up for adoption at birth, spent time in foster care and longed to be reunited with her foster mother.
By 17 she was a single mother, Patricia said, and six years later she had another child. When she was 20, she sought out information about her birth mother and then let it go until years later, Patricia said.
The agency contacted Patricia in 2007 with the news that her birth mother did not want to meet her on the same day she saw a local news story that had an interview with Oprah’s mother which gave her information that matched up with what Patricia knew about her birth family.
“We realized that Oprah could be my sister,” Patricia said.
Winfrey told her audience that it was true that Patricia was her sister. Patricia said she kept her family connection a secret after unsuccessfully trying to reach Oprah’s mother, Vernita Lee.
Patricia tracked down Winfrey’s niece who is the daughter of Oprah’s other half-sister. The pair did a DNA test and it was revealed that they were indeed aunt and niece. That started the ball rolling with family members reaching out to Winfrey who eventually confirmed with her mother that the story was true.
Winfrey broke down a bit when expressing why she admires her half-sister so much. The talk show host said she has had so many people betray her since she became a celebrity and she was moved by the fact that Patricia kept the story secret.
“She never once thought to go to the press,” Winfrey said. “She never once thought to sell this story.”