Oprah’s Adopted Sister Gets Nothing

On January 24, Oprah revealed that she has a half sister, which her mother had given up for adoption. Her sister – Patricia Lloyd – had tried tracking her mother down, but her mother refused contact with her. Patricia ended up getting anonymous information about her birth family through the agency and figured out her mother was Oprah’s mother based on the birth dates of her children and her biography on television.

Patricia is the only living sibling of Oprah. While watching that episode of Oprah (yes, I watch because it is the last season), I thought to myself what a lucky lady. Patricia has a claim to Oprah’s million-dollar empire, or does she? In most states, adoption “cuts off” the adopted person from their adopted family. This cutting off means that you cannot inherit from your birth family. The New York law (though it wouldn’t apply in this case since the adoption took place in Wisconsin) goes so far to say that “adopted children and their issue thereafter are strangers to any birth relatives.” Even if you meet your birth family once you are adopted, you cannot regain your inheritance rights. The only way that Patricia will get any of Oprah’s money is if Oprah expressly puts her adopted half-sister in her will.