Woman Discovered She Is Related to A Cultural Icon

Patricia Lofton was born under unfortunate circumstances that she was well-aware of. She knew she was adopted but didn’t know much about her biological family. Naturally, the older she got, the more curious she got. When she finally found out the truth about her family tree, Patricia was shocked. She spent years longing to reunite with her birth family.

Patricia and her two children / A photograph of Patricia surrounded by other graduates next to a photo of Oprah and Patricia
Source: Oprah / Instagram, @Oprah

When she couldn’t stand the yearning any longer, she finally started her search but stopped to take care of her own children. Finally, she was ready to continue her investigation, but she didn’t really expect what was about to come. She discovered that her biological half-sister is one of the most recognized women on the planet. After proving who she was by adoption records and DNA testing, Patricia’s life was forever changed.

This is Patricia’s crazy journey to find the truth about her family.

A Tough Decision

When Patricia Lofton’s mother learned that she was pregnant with Patricia, she had so much on her plate and certainly wasn’t ready for another child. She was on welfare and was already having a difficult time taking care of the children she had. A new baby would have made a difficult situation even more complicated.

Patricia Lofton
Source: Pinterest

The compassionate mother knew it wouldn’t be fair to raise a child in poverty. Things were hard enough as it was. Despite all the options she had to spare the baby from a tough life, there was only one decision she would consider. A choice that ultimately changed Patricia’s life forever.

Choosing Adoption

One of the hardest decisions a mother would ever have to make is putting their child up for adoption; Patricia’s mother was no exception. Still, she was determined to give her baby a better life than what she was able to give her. So as soon as the baby was born, Patricia’s mother put her up for adoption.

Patricia as a child
Patricia. Source Oprah

As it turned out, Patricia’s life wasn’t exactly “better” than it would have been. Especially when she was younger, she was bounced around foster homes in her early years, and, when she was seven, Patricia was finally adopted. Despite her struggles in her early years, Patricia has one of the most remarkable stories.

It Wasn’t a Better Life

Sadly, things didn’t go exactly how her mother hoped. Patricia did, in fact, go through hardships and described her childhood as “difficult.” She explained how she never really felt like she fit in with her adopted family. Even though she had no clue who her biological mother was, she yearned to be with her.

Patricia sitting on a couch
Source: YouTube

The intense longing to meet her biological mother never went away. She always had an intuitive feeling that her mother didn’t want to give her up. She knew her gut what trying to tell her something. She listened to her gut and was determined to figure out who her mom was. The curiosity always weighed on her.

Always Wondering

As Patricia Lofton grew up, her interest in her birth parents only grew stronger. She often thought about whether or not she had siblings. Who could they be? Were they also given up for adoption? The questions burned her soul, and she knew it was time. She just wanted to get some answers.

Patricia Lofton
Source: YouTube

Eventually, the truth about her biological family would be shocking. Before she would have the chance to meet them, she would have to endure her own challenge. A challenge that was almost exactly the same as what her birth mother had to go through. You guessed it; just like her mother, Patricia got pregnant.

Doing Things Differently

Patricia was young when she got pregnant with a baby girl. She was at the age that most of us were barely high school graduates or started adulting. Despite the struggles of being a young mom, Patricia decided to keep the baby. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she didn’t want her daughter to have the same upbringing that she had.

Patricia wiping away a tear
Source: YouTube

It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to make. Patricia wasn’t married and wouldn’t have the support she would have wanted when she had her first child, Aquarius. But after she gave birth to her baby girl, her desire to meet her own mother grew immensely.

Let the Search Begin

When Patricia was twenty years old, her curiosity was constant. It was taking over her soul, and she couldn’t ignore her curiosity any longer. She just wanted to learn something about her birth family and decided to begin her search. She was determined and started looking through her adoption records. However, her search was stalled at the beginning.

Patricia smiling
Source: YouTube

Patricia was juggling the responsibilities she had in her personal life, as well as raising her child as a single mother. In the meantime, she had to take a break from her search. Don’t worry, though. Soon, she would be back to work, and her discovery would be all over the headlines.

Baby Number Two

When Patricia’s daughter was just six, Patricia got pregnant again. Just like with her first child, Patricia didn’t want to give up her baby. Soon, her first son, baby Andre, was born. She raised him and Aquarius all on her own, still determined to keep her family together.

Patricia and her two children
Source: Oprah

It’s no secret that being a single mom is no easy feat. Patricia was working two jobs to take care of the two kids. She really didn’t want to make the same mistake her birth mother did. Due to her extremely busy schedule, she never continued her search. But then something unbelievable happened.

Take 2

Throughout her twenties and thirties, Patricia dedicated her life to raising her kids. She put her search for her biological family on hold. Don’t get me wrong, finding her birth family was important to her, but she wasn’t going to do it at the expense of raising her two children.

Vernita Lee
Vernita Lee. Source: People

But when she reached her forties, the yearning and emptiness started haunting her. She was just so curious, and now that her kids were older, it was time. She was ready to dedicate time to finding her birth parents. She started off the only way she knew how, looking through her old adoption records to see what she could find out.

Ignored and Rejected

Patricia finally managed to reach out to her birth mother using the adoption records. After all this time, she could finally talk to the woman who gave birth to her… or so she thought. Sadly, she never got a response. Patricia didn’t know why and assumed that maybe she was embarrassed or something. What she did know was that she wanted nothing to do with Patricia.

Oprah’s mother standing in a hallway with balloon animals
Vernita Lee. Photo by MediaPunch / Shutterstock

The day Patricia was rejected by her mother, fate took over. Something amazing was about to happen. First of all, she learned exactly who her birth mother was. Not only that, but she found out something incredible that would shock her and the rest of the world.

Feels Familiar

The day Patricia Lofton was denied by her mother ended up being a great day. Destiny stepped in! When she turned on the news, she heard something rather strange. It started off with a story about a woman named Vernita Lee.

Oprah with her half-brother, Jeffrey lee
Jeffrey Lee. Source: starchanges

Lee was speaking about how her son Jeffery passed away in 1989. She then went on to say that in 2003 she lost her daughter Pat. This is heartbreaking for anyone to hear, but something about those dates really triggered Patricia’s memory. It was like she knew these people or something. She was about to find out why that whole news segment sounded oddly familiar.

I Know Those Dates!

Not only did Patricia recognize those dates, but she also recognized the locations. That’s because, in her adoption records, she saw the same information about Jeffery and Pat. When Patricia recalled the incident, she said, “The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I said, ‘No, that can’t be.’”

Patricia Lee-Lloyd, Oprah’s half-sister
Patricia Lee-Lloyd. Source: starchanges

That wasn’t even the crazy part. The most shocking part is the reason why this story was being shown on the news. As it turned out, someone famous was a part of that family. Even though Patricia didn’t know it yet, it was one of the most famous and successful women in the world. Who could it be?

Radio Silence

Patricia’s son, Andre, was older at this point, and he knew his mom was onto something. That’s when he decided to look into Vernita’s information as well. Just as he expected, the dates, locations, and everything his mom heard on TV added up. She felt like she had no choice but to reach out once again.

Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey
Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey. Photo by MediaPunch / Shutterstock

Patricia went on to try and contact Vernita Lee several more times, but it still didn’t work. It was like she didn’t want to see her. That’s when Patricia asked her pastor to reach out through Vernita’s pastor. But it was no use; she still didn’t get an answer. That’s when Patricia and Andre noticed the missing puzzle piece – Patricia’s sister.

Oprah Who?!

As they looked deeper into Vernita, Patricia and her son noticed a familiar name. The name happened to be the one and only Oprah Winfrey. Oprah was listed as one of Vernita’s daughters. Could it be? Is it possible that this ordinary woman was related to the famous Oprah Winfrey?

Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globe Awards
Photo by David Fisher / Shutterstock

She needed to find out one way or another. Even if Vernita wasn’t going to help or even respond to her. Instead of taking her story to the press, like most people would if they found out they were long-lost sisters with a celebrity, Patricia came up with a better idea. She did a lot of snooping.

Determined Lady

Using her investigative abilities, Patricia managed to track down a restaurant in Wisconsin that Oprah Winfrey’s niece owned. That was definitely a step in the right direction, but Patricia felt it was the place to figuring out her family tree. So what would she do next? Go eat at the restaurant, of course.

Oprah with her niece and nephews at ‘Pat’s Rib Place’ in Waukesha
Oprah with her niece and nephews. Source: Instagram / @Oprah

She went to visit the restaurant to find some answers. However, Oprah’s niece was understandably skeptical at first. Patricia just ended up showing her adoption records to prove who she was and that she was telling the truth. Oprah’s niece was stunned, but she couldn’t deny the facts. This was when things got real.

DNA Doesn’t Lie

As Oprah’s niece was looking at the adoption records, she still couldn’t believe what was going on in front of her. It was a lot to take in. To help the niece accept it, Patricia convinced her that a DNA test is a certain way to prove the relation. DNA doesn’t lie, right?

Vernita Lee / Patricia Lofton
Vernita Lee and Patricia Lofton. Source: Twitter / YouTube

The DNA results came back positive, just as Patricia suspected. Her journey to finding the truth about her biological family was finally starting to pay off. When she saw the DNA test, it hit Patricia as well. She is actually the sister of one of the biggest icons of the century. But there is more to the story…

Telling Oprah

After Patricia made this unbelievable discovery, the news started to spread around the Winfrey family. It didn’t take long for all the relatives to talk about their new family members through email. However, they chose to keep the news in the family for now… at least until Oprah found out.

Oprah, her niece Alisha Hayes, and Patricia
Oprah, her niece Alisha Hayes, and Patricia. Source: Pinterest

From the beginning, Patricia strongly felt like it should be Vernita Lee’s responsibility to break the news about her daughter. After all, she was the one who gave her up. Patricia herself wasn’t going to sell the story to the press. She decided to remain loyal to her new sister and family. The entire family agreed but decided that Oprah needed to know. So how did she react?

Confronting Mama

When she heard Patricia Lofton’s story, Oprah was obviously intrigued. I mean, she had reunited various family members for years, all on national television. Now, this scenario is happening to her. But was it really true? Does Oprah actually have a long-lost sister? I mean, many people would pretend to be Oprah’s sister to get the benefits that come with it.

Oprah and her mother in 1966.
Oprah and Vernita Lee in 1966. Source: Twitter

Oprah wanted to do some research of her own, and she went straight to the source, her mother. When she confronted Vernita Lee, she straight up denied the whole thing. But Oprah wasn’t buying it. Like her half-sister, Oprah wanted the truth. She soon got it from an unlikely source.

Lights, Camera, Action!

It was a chilly October day, and Oprah Winfrey was in her story getting ready to take the stage. That’s when she remembered that she had asked her assistant to look into Patricia Lofton’s claims. What did she find? Was there even anything to find? Or did this woman make up the whole thing for money or something?

Oprah and her mother in 1994
Oprah and Vernita Lee in 1994. Photo by MediaPunch / Shutterstock

Just before walking out on stage, she asked her assistant if she managed to track down any information about Patricia. It was the moment of truth. She was about to find out the truth about the secrets in her very own family tree. She was anxiously waiting for an answer.

The Undeniable Truth

Her assistant looked Oprah straight in the eye and simply said yes. It was true, Patricia Lofton was her long-lost half-sister. She was adopted years ago when her mom Vernita Lee gave her up. Oprah was shocked and couldn’t believe it. I mean, why would her mom lie about that? Lie to all of them?

Oprah Winfrey
Photo by Theo Kingma / Shutterstock

Oprah wanted to confront her mother with all the facts on the table. Finally, Vernita admitted the truth. She explained that she gave Patricia up for adoption in 1963, shortly after she was born. She confessed to everything. Even though Oprah was still in complete shock, she couldn’t wait to meet her sister.

Meeting the Fam

But Patricia felt she had some unfinished business before she was ready to meet her sister. She still wanted to meet her mom first. So for the third and last time, she reached out to Vernita, and she finally agreed to meet her one on one. After all this time, she was about to meet the woman who gave birth to her.

Patricia sitting at a table holding some pieces of paper
Source: YouTube

But what was different this time, what changed her mind? Maybe it was the fact that Oprah was involved, or because the truth was already out in the open. This would be their first reunion since Patricia was born. Needless to say, this was one emotional encounter.

Family Resemblance

The meeting appropriately happened on Thanksgiving. Patricia and Oprah both drove to their mom’s home in Milwaukee to see each other for the first time. They were both excited and filled with anticipation, but Patricia got to the house first. When Oprah Winfrey first looked at Patricia, she exclaimed, “You look just like Pat!”

Patricia, Vernita, and Oprah sitting around a kitchen island with tea
Patricia, Vernita, and Oprah. Source: YouTube

The talk-show icon was referring to her sister, who passed away years earlier. They were both stunned, staring at each other, and then cuddling up in a long emotional hug. It was just as heartwarming as you’d expect when two long-lost sisters meet for the first time. But the story doesn’t end there.

Catching Up

After decades apart, the two sisters finally met face to face. Patricia and Oprah spent the entire day together, just getting to know one another. They had a whole lifetime to catch up on. Referring to a movie that depicts a daughter coming back from the dead, Winfrey said, “It was a beloved moment.”

Patricia and Oprah
Patricia and Oprah. Source: Pinterest

But it was more than just Patricia being Oprah’s sister. The two had a real connection and a true appreciation for one another. I can only imagine what it was like to see each other after all this time. There was more to this crazy story that really caught Oprah Winfrey’s attention, and it worked out in Patricia’s favor.

The World Meets Patricia

Just a few months after her Thanksgiving meeting with her sister, Oprah Winfrey, and her birthmother mother, Vernita Lee, Patricia was about to embark on an unbelievable experience. Oprah was about to bring Patricia on the Oprah Winfrey Show” so that she can introduce her “new” sister to the world.

Patricia and Oprah about to hug on the Oprah show
Patricia and Oprah. Source: Flickr

This whole situation was a roller coaster for Patricia Lofton. She was searching for her birth mother for decades, and then she found out that her sister was a pop culture icon. The story wasn’t over there. Oprah wanted to do more for her sister, but Patricia didn’t feel like she deserved all of this.

Loving Sisters

The journey was a dream come true for Patricia. It was something Patricia had wished for every night since she was a little girl. Finally, she met her biological mother and family. On top of her sister being the extremely famous Oprah Winfrey, the two formed a real bond and trusted each other.

Patricia and Oprah holding hands on her talk show
Photo by George Burns / Oprah

Clearly, the talk-show host was impressed with her sister. Patricia didn’t really know what she did or didn’t do to win over Oprah’s attention, but she didn’t think much of it. She just felt like she was following her heart and doing the right thing. I’m sure you’re wondering what exactly that is.

Oprah Values Loyalty

The thing about Patricia which really impressed Oprah was how she handled this whole ordeal, particularly the story. She could have easily sold the story to the press, but when she didn’t, she proved her loyalty to Oprah. Winfrey explained, “There have been a few times I’ve been anywhere, and I haven’t been sold out.”

Oprah Winfrey with Patricia and her family
Source: Pinterest

She continues to state, “There have been few times where you can bring anyone new into your life and not have that person in some way betray you or use you or take advantage of you.” Now, with all this exciting news, many questions needed some answers.

What’s with all the Lies?

Both sisters were still confused by their mother’s actions. Like, why did Vernita keep the Patricia and the entire adoption a secret? After she made the difficult decision back in 1963, she didn’t tell a single soul. She kept it to herself and didn’t even tell her children that they had a half-sister.

Vernita Lee and Oprah Winfrey
Vernita Lee and Oprah Winfrey. Source: Twitter / @Oprah

Then, when her daughter tried to track her down decades later, Vernita didn’t respond. What was her reasoning for ignoring her? Even when the facts were right in front of her, she went on to deny it. Why? The situation seemed shady. Well, it was only a matter of time before the shocking answers would come out.

A Mother’s Guilt

During a taped interview, Vernita Lee finally answered those questions. The mother stated, “I thought it was a terrible thing that I had done.” She went on to explain that at the time she got pregnant, she was just unable to care for another child and get off on welfare. She just felt bad about giving up her baby.

Patricia, Oprah’s mother, and Oprah posing together
Source: Instagram / @oprahmagazine

But she added, “I did think about the baby. I went back looking for her, and they told me she had left.” But it was after this statement when Vernita admitted something that really touched Patricia’s heart. It was something she never heard before, and it brought tears to her eyes.

A Cute Little Girl

Patricia got chills at the next thing Vernita said in the interview. She called her a “cute little girl.” It was a compliment that Patricia never really heard before, and the fact that it came from her biological mother made the statement even more special and emotional. It was so natural for my mom to call me a cute little girl all the time, so I never realized that not everybody gets that.

Oprah and Patricia
Source: YouTube

As she tried to hold back her tears, Patricia said, “I am just trying to take it all in right now, because I never heard that I was a pretty baby.” But that wasn’t the end of it. Patricia finally received something that she has been waiting for her entire life.

Benefits From Oprah!

Three years after Oprah introduced Patricia to the world as her half-sister on her talk show, Patricia’s life was about to change yet again. This time, drastically. Of course, finding her biological family and her famous sister was huge, but something bigger was about to come.

The house that Oprah bought for Patricia which is two triangular sections with blue tips, grey stone, and red shutters around the windows
Patricia’s new home. Source: Pinterest

In 2014, Oprah bought her long-lost sister a half a million-dollar home in Wisconsin, but she didn’t stop there; this is Oprah we’re talking about! She decided to give Patricia a monthly allowance so that she could go back to college and follow her dreams of becoming a social worker. Wow, that is so sweet! She couldn’t have gotten a better half-sister!

Congrats Sis!

Soon after, Patricia began attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She never thought she would be able to go to college and was forever grateful to her sister for giving her this opportunity. As you may have guessed, this wasn’t the end of Oprah’s generosity. Another emotional surprise was in store on the day of Patricia’s graduation.

A photograph of Patricia surrounded by other graduates next to a photo of Oprah and Patricia
Source: Instagram / @Oprah

She finally accomplished her goal of graduating from college when she was 53-years old. That’s when she noticed her sister cheering in the crown and tweeting about the event. While they were able to share happy moments together, they were also by each other’s side in more difficult times as a real family, as we’ll see next.

For Better, and For Worse

The key to Oprah Winfrey and Patricia Lofton’s family relation is their mother, Vernita Lee, but, sadly, she passed away on Thanksgiving 2018. She was 83 years old. Winfrey honored her mother in true Oprah style with pictures of family members surrounding Vernita.

The photograph of Oprah’s family surrounding her mother at the dinner table
Source: Instagram / @Oprah

The talk-show host later took to Instagram, “Thank you all for your kind words in condolences regarding my mother Vernita Lee’s passing. It gives our family great comfort knowing she lived a good life and is now at peace.” It was a difficult day for everyone, but Winfrey hosted a dinner at her home that day. She was just happy to have her sister by her side.