so oprah announces today that she has a half sister that she never knew about–when she was nine, her mother gave birth and immediately put the baby up for adoption. patricia, oprah’s half sister, bounced around some foster homes before being adopted at age seven. the reunion of half-sisters is enough to get the tears flowing, but what’s going to happen after the cameras are turned off?
i always knew i had been adopted by the patricks–i even have memory of going on “home visits” with a social worker before the papers were signed. i hired a private detective when i was twenty four in order to find my natural family. i was studying to take the bar exam and i thought he was one of the most inept detectives because every week i’d ask him about his progress and he would confess that he wasn’t getting any further along in the process. on the night i was finished with the two day exam, he called me and told me that he had found my father two months before. he hadn’t wanted me to be distracted from studying for the bar so he had kept it a secret from me.
“you’re the granddaughter of a very famous writer,” he said.
i thought james michener. as it happens, it was fritz leiber, which drew a “who?” from me. fritz was a science fiction and fantasy writer. his son justin is a writer and philosophy professor. justin is my father and came to visit me within the week. i went down to houston, where he lived with his wife and newly born daughter, for thanksgiving. i believe it was something of a shock to both justin and his wife. my sister casey is an actress in new york. justin and casey are both my facebook friends.
i met my mother aleta a few months after meeting justin, but that situation was less congenial–she was a public defender in washington, d.c, and not making enough money to get by. she asked for assistance right from the start and at one point when i didn’t come through she cut off relations. i have no idea where she is now. i met her sister (from whom she was estranged at the time) and blanche was very sweet to me–until the day their mother (my grandmother) made contact with me. the three sisters–blanche, aleta, and michelle–have no relationship with my grandmother alyce. alyce is now in a nursing home in seaford, delaware and i have some facebook friends to visit when i go there this spring.
good luck to oprah and her sister patricia. they have to make a decision about whether they want to have a family relationship or whether they are going to be friends who happen to share some genetic material. somehow i don’t think they’re going to walk away from each other.
in other news, i met facebook friends #21 bruce burdick and #22 paulibus shumann yesterday at a go bears! party–facebook friend #20 charles seymour was having a bad hair day and it turns out he’s thought every day was a bad hair day. here’s what happened when they went outside for a few minutes during half time. instead of mourning the poor bears, they talked hair. what’s fun about them is that these three guys have been friends since they were in nursery school.