Imagine the shock after you find out that your best friend of 17 years is actually your sister.
That’s the case of Ashley Thomas and Latoya Wimberly who recently found out that they are sisters.
How they found out
The puzzle started coming together in January, when Wimberly, 29, had a party to celebrate her engagement. Thomas, 31, shared photos from the party on Facebook. Some of the photos included Wimberly’s father, Kenneth Wimberly.
While looking at the photos online, a friend of Thomas’ mother saw Kenneth and realized she knew him.
“Ashley’s mom’s best friend told her she had no idea my dad was Kenny,” Wimberly said. “She said she and Ashley’s mom used to hang around him back when they were young.
When Ashley told me, I knew something didn’t click. So I asked her to send me a picture of her mom’s best friend and showed it to my dad and asked him if he recognized her.”
Kenneth immediately recognized the woman. And later, when shown a photo of Thomas’ mother, he recognized her, too. In fact, he said the two had had a brief romantic relationship.
At that moment, he also learned that Thomas did not know who her biological father was, and questioned whether it might be him.
To find out, the three decided to split the cost of a DNA test.
On February 21, the results came in — confirming that Kenny was indeed Thomas’ father.
“It was a Friday, and I was at work when I got the call,” Thomas said. “When Kenny told me he was my dad, chills went through my body. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t process it. I couldn’t even talk to them.”
Thomas and Wimberly say they felt like sisters long before they knew their biological connection.
Lots of unanswered questions
Thomas was 15 when she learned that the man who had raised her was not her biological father.
Her mother, who died 11 years ago, never told her who may have been her father. Thomas’ family had also never met Wimberly’s family, leaving them unaware of the possibility that it could be Kenneth.
But Kenneth still played a fatherly role in Thomas’ life.
“Ashley was the only one of my friends who didn’t miss a single-family event,” Wimberly said.
“She was extremely close to my entire family on both sides. If my father is taking me out, Ashley’s coming with me. If someone asks who are those girls, he says ‘Those are my girls.’ If she has a car problem or any kind of issue, she always goes to my dad. But somehow our families never met.”
Thomas described the discovery as “beautiful,” but also “extremely emotional.”
“I have so many questions for my mom and I will never have any of those answers,” Thomas said. “Did she know he was my father?”
“Big Kenny was like my dad,” she added. “He was there for me the whole time and I had no idea.”