You can read about Oprah's reunion here and here.
Winfrey said her mother had a daughter and gave her up for adoption in 1963, when Winfrey herself was living with her father.
Winfrey was born to unmarried teenage parents and raised by both her maternal grandmother in Mississippi and her mother, who moved to Milwaukee. She spent part of her youth with the man she considered her father, Vernon, in Nashville.
Her mother never spoke to her of the half-sister. Winfrey is nine years older.
Winfrey's mother Vernita Lee said she never admitted she had another daughter "because I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do, that I had done — gave up my daughter when she was born."
"I made the decision to give her up because I wasn't able to take care of her," Lee said during a recorded interview that aired Monday.
Orpah's sister Patricia had been bounced from one foster home to another until she was adopted at age seven. She said a Wisconsin adoption agency told her her birthmother had refused to meet with her.
But in 2007, she heard an interview with Lee, who talked about two of her children who had died.
Patricia compared her date of birth with the story of Lee's missing children. She quietly got a DNA test, comparing herself with the daughter of Winfrey's dead sister in Milwaukee.
This presents a wonderful opportunity to write to Oprah here!
My letter to Oprah:
Congratulations on your reunion with your sister!
Orpah, now that you have learned that you are personally touched by adoption loss and separation, I hope and pray you will become a powerful voice to help end state discrimination against adoptees.
In approx. 44 states, adopted persons are denied the same access to their own birth certificates that all other non-adopted citizens take for granted. They are subject to special laws that apply only to adopted separated persons and treated as "suspect" and in ned of special "protection" from one another! The state falsifies their birth certificates making it possible for adoptive parents to never reveal the truth and causing adoptees to give false medical history.
This persecution needs to end! Please help us! Host a program about these issues. Animal rights issues have many celebrity spokespersons but adoptee rights have no one.
My second letter to Oprah:
Oprah - your own mother expressed her SHAME at having to place a child for adoption. This is true of the vast majority of such mothers, even those who, like your Mom, relinquished in the 60s. We are not ashamed that we became pregnant outside of marriage, but that we yielded to pressure and lost our children.
Mothers who lost children to adoption are spoken about and laws created making incorrect assumption that purport to "protect" us when in fact they punish us by keeping our children from having access to their own birth certificates.
Please contact me or Origins-USA and CUB and invite some mothers who have lived this to share their compelling stories and burst the myths that make adopted citizens the silent civil rights issue in the US today!