A Milwaukee woman named Patricia is Oprah Winfrey's half-sister, the billionaire announced on her show Monday.
"I thought nothing could surprise me any more, but let me tell you, I was wrong," Ms. Winfrey said. "Patricia is my half-sister who I never knew existed."
Her mother Vernita Lee gave Patricia up for adoption in 1963, shortly after she was born. Ms. Winfrey was 9 years old and living with her father – she didn't know her mother was pregnant.
Patricia lived in foster homes until she was 7, always hoping her mother would one day come back for her. She spent years searching for her identity and finally learned Ms. Winfrey was her half-sister four years ago. The two women met on Thanksgiving Day.
The sisters have the same round faces and smile but Patricia is shorter. (Ms. Winfrey brought her out on stage.)
According to USA Today, the host said her mother "is still stuck in 1963" and carries "the shame" of Patricia's birth, describing the reunion of her mother and sister in Milwaukee last week. In a taped segment, Ms. Lee said, "I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do, that I had done – gave up my daughter when she was born."
Ever the superhero, Ms. Winfrey, who grew up in abject poverty and was raised at various times by her mother, father and grandmother, is hoping to change that.
Looking into the camera and addressing her mother, she said, "You can let the shame go."
The show airs in North America on Monday afternoon.