The Chicago Family Law Blog

Oprah Winfrey Reveals Half-Sister She Never Knew About

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Chicago locals may have heard about Oprah Winfrey recently talk about her half-sister Patricia, whom Winfrey said she never knew about until this past October. According to Reuters, Winfrey revealed to her audience on her daytime television program "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that she and Patricia share the same birth mother, Vernita Lee.

Patricia appeared at Winfrey's show and shared that she had grown in up foster homes since she was seven years old. Lee had apparently given Patricia up for adoption because she was concerned she would not be able to get off welfare if she had a second child. Winfrey, who was then nine years old, said she was not even aware that her mother had been pregnant because she was living with her father at the time.

Patricia, who grew up in foster homes, said she discovered Winfrey was her half-sister in 2007, but she decided to keep the news to herself and avoid attracting unwarranted media attention.

Raising children under foster care is not entirely uncommon, although some Chicago residents may not be familiar with the how the system works. Foster care often includes two categories of care: group homes or kinship care. Group homes generally have at least six children under one roof and include supervision with a counselor on duty. Kids are integrated into the local community but kept under a structured schedule that involves tutoring and other services.

With kinship care, a child is cared for full-time by relatives, step-parents, godparents, or any adult who has a kinship tie with the child. Informal kinship care happens when a family decides a child will live with relative or other kin, but a court or Child Protective Services (CPS) agency determines which relative will raise a child in formal kinship care.

For more information about the foster care system in Illinois, seek legal counsel from an experienced Chicago family law attorney or visit the Related Resources links below.

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