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The untold truth of Oprah’s mother, Vernita Lee

The untold truth of Oprah's mother, Vernita Lee

In 2010, Oprah Winfrey revealed what she called “a bombshell family secret” to the world. That truth bomb: She had discovered she has a half-sister named Patricia Lee.

While living in Milwaukee in April 1963, Vernita Lee reportedly gave birth to a daughter and placed her up for adoption (Oprah living with her father at the time.) “I was left in the hospital for about a month,” Patricia revealed on Oprah’s show. After spending about seven years with foster families, Patricia was adopted, yet she frequently fantasized about reuniting with her birth mother. “I had some disbelief that she didn’t mean to put me up for adoption. I just would always wish that my birth mother was going to come back and get me,” she said.

At the urging of her own children, Patricia sought out her birth mother through proper channels and discovered she had siblings (Vernita’s other children). Those siblings included a half-brother named Jeffrey who died in 1989, a half sister also named Patricia who passed away in 2003, and a half-sister who turned out to be Oprah. Vernita reportedly declined Patricia Lee’s repeated attempts to connect, but finally, in 2010, Patricia had an opportunity to meet Oprah and her mother on separate occasions.

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