Oprah's family secretsIt’s been quite the week for Oprah Winfrey!

And not career-wise this time.  We’re talking about family secrets that have come to light this past week.

Oprah Winfrey shared a big family secret on her show on Monday.  She has a half-sister, Patricia Lloyd, who she never knew existed until recently.

Oprah said on Monday that she has learned just in November that she has a half-sister named Patricia, who was secretly given up for adoption in 1963. Patricia, who lives in Milwaukee, said that she discovered Oprah was her half-sister while searching for her birth mother in 2007. Winfrey told her audience that “Imagine my shock just a few months ago, at the end of October, when I found out I have another sister living 90 minutes away”.

When Oprah was 9 years old, her mother, Vernita Lee, was pregnant and gave up her baby for adoption.  Oprah never knew that she had a half-sister.   In fact, she never even knew her mother was pregnant. Forty-eight years later, the two sisters – Oprah and Patricia Lloyd – were finally reunited on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Oprah’s show revealed the secret and introduced viewers to her half-sister Patricia.  It also featured a taped interview with Oprah, Patricia and her mother Vernita, who opened up about her feelings.  Oprah’s mother didn’t have the means to care for her and chose to give her up.  Patricia tried to contact Vernita several times until finally, she listened.  Oprah commended her for not selling the story and going to the tabloids.

Besides having a secret sister, Oprah has another burden that she’s been carrying around for most of her life other than the family member she never knew. Oprah Winfrey was pregnant at the tender age of 14.

Sadly, Oprah Winfrey’s baby boy died shortly after she gave birth to him. Oprah was so ashamed of her pregnancy, she considered ending her life. She hid the pregnancy as best she could, and her mother Vernita Lee sent her to live with her father, Vernon Winfrey in Nashville.  Vernon had said,  “I would rather see a daughter of mine floating down the Cumberland River than to bring shame on this family and the indecency of an illegitimate child.”

Oprah has said that losing her baby boy gave her a second chance at life.

Now with the news of her half-sister, she’s having another chance at family too – a blessing considering the sad deaths of her two younger siblings.

Oprah’s brother Jeffrey passed away 22 years ago, but they were not speaking at the time of his death in 1989. He told the National Enquirer shortly before he died of AIDS that his half-sister had effectively disowned him, though Winfrey has not discussed the source of their dispute.  In 2003, Oprah’s other half-sister, also named Patricia, died mysteriously.

Oprah was 9 years old when she was first sexually abused. While babysitting Vernita’s children, Oprah’s 19-year-old cousin raped her, took her out for ice cream, and told her to keep it a secret. Within the next few years, she would face more abuse from a family friend as well as an uncle. She kept silent about all of it for years.

Why is all this news coming out now?  Was Oprah finally ready to share her private life with the world?

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Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.


  1. Sarah Carbone Reply

    I am here cause I want to talk about Oprah Winfrey….She is an Icon to me….she has endured lots of hardships in her life..and she has come through them….she is a real person not just a celebrity that we have come to know and love…she has helped out thousands of people with her talke show…she shows real concerns and if she has to she will even cry with us…as we know her life was not an easy one….and now that she has come out and told the world….literly the world..her family secrets after all these years..she is one hell of a Woman…..I do not read the tabloids as I do not believe everything they write.. I am very proud of Oprah….. I hope she will continue with her success…and enjoy life.

  2. don’t mean to be rude. plenty of people have gone through the same thing. why is it so tramatic? cause it is oprah. stop it.

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