Oprah's sister: How Oprah came to learn a family secret

Oprah's sister: Oprah said on her show Friday that she had been 'keeping a family secret for months.' On Monday, the television host revealed that she had a long-lost half sister.

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    Winfrey is seen in Dec. 2010, doing promotion for 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.'
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On Friday's episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," one of the world's most influential women told her audience that she had been keeping a family secret. On Monday, she revealed that she had a long-lost half sister.

Patricia, whose last name was not given, spoke on the show about her struggles being in foster care and trying to find her biological family. According to CNN Entertainment, the agency contacted Patricia in 2007 with the news that her birth mother did not want to meet her. That same day, Patricia saw a local news story about Oprah's mother, who seemed a lot like what Patricia knew about her birth mother. A DNA test confirmed it: Patricia and Oprah shared a mother, Vernita Lee.

Oprah was touched by Patricia's keeping it a secret for so long. "She never once thought to go to the press," Winfrey said. "She never once thought to sell this story." Patricia found out that she was related to Winfrey in 2007, but didn't want to cause media excitement that would lead to false rumors.

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Oprah was born in 1954, in Mississippi to young, unmarried teenage parents. She endured years of abuse at home, and ran away when she turned 13, where she was then raised by her grandmother. Vernita Lee struggled for many years as a single mother. In 1963, when Oprah was nine years old, Patricia was born, and was given up for adoption. Oprah did not know that her mother was even pregnant at the time, because she was living with her father, Vernon Winfrey.

Finding lost siblings can still be difficult, but with the latest DNA testing out and the Web it can be a lot more attainable. Using public records and sibling-finder websites it can be as simple as typing in a last name, Also people have been creating Facebook and MySpace pages to help find their long lost siblings. A good online resource to help find siblings reconnect would be OmniTrace.

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