Reunions seem to be the talk of the news this week. After the reunion of Carlina White, aka Neijdra Nance, with her parents in New York and Oprah announcing today that she met her long-lost half sister that she never knew about, it seems that family reunions are becoming a normal piece of news.
Carlina White and her parents have been reunited 23 years after she was kidnapped by a woman posing as a nurse at a Harlem Hospital. She is now a mother herself and realized that something was wrong when the woman she knew as her mother could not produce a birth certificate. She began to search for her identity and found that a baby on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website that looked like her own daughter. After some investigating and a DNA test, she found that she herself was the missing child on the website.
Unlike Carlina, Patricia (Oprah’s half-sister) knew that she had been given up as an infant for adoption. However, she didn’t know who her birth mother was. Patricia was jostled from foster home to foster home until she was adopted at the age of 7. She has not lived a life of luxury and has struggled through a lot of her life.
As an adult single parent of two children, Patricia decided to get her adoption records and attempt to find her birth parents. She asked the adoption agency and her clergy for help and the adoption agency called her to notify her that her birth mother did not want any contact with her. However, it didn’t discourage her as she knew that she had 3 siblings, of which one was still living.
Patricia knew that she had two siblings who had died early in life- a sister whom she shared the same name with and a brother, Jeff. She also knew that she had a sister whom was still living that was born in 1954. She could continue her search for family, although it would have been easier with the mother’s help.
On the day that the adoption agency broke the news that her birth mother wanted no contact with her, she watched an interview on television with Venita Lee, Oprah’s mother. As Venita discussed her life, she spoke of her two children who had past away. This information matched information in the adoption files. Could it be that this was her mother? Sharing the news with her son, he searched some information on Oprah and found that she was indeed born the same year as the sister that his mother had that was still living.
This information led Patricia to search more and she found the daughter of her sister, Patricia. She lived near by and so Patricia went to meet with her and found that pictures of her deceased sister and her were a close resemblance. After showing the adoption information to the woman’s daughter, they had a DNA test done and discovered that the chances of them being related were extremely high. She could very well be Oprah’s sister, but she wanted to locate her birth mother and talk with Oprah privately about the matter.
Being respectful of both Oprah’s career and the family, she remained quiet about this until this year when it was discovered by Oprah that this woman had been attempting to contact her mother and that this woman was part of her family. After making initial contact, Oprah and Patricia met on Thanksgiving Day in 2010. Patricia and Oprah have since spoke with their mother and she has explained why she gave Patricia up for adoption and why she had never spoken of her to Oprah or the rest of the family.
It is a coincidence that Patricia and her deceased sister share the same name according to Venita as she did not name the child that she gave up for adoption. Oprah commented on her show that she was amazed at how much the two of them were alike as well.
As we speak with members of our own families this week, we need to remind ourselves that we are family and that even when we have disagreements that we are still lucky that we know our mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers and have had the time with them that we have. Others in the world are not as lucky and there are people in the world that still wonder if they have a family or parents out there who love them. Be thankful for your family no matter how odd or strange that you think they might be.