Ashley Thomas and Latoya Wimberly used to be best friends for the fact that they have a lot in common. But one thing they didn’t know…they are not just simply best friends.
They had the same gaps in their front teeth as children, as well as high cheekbones and a similar complexion. They even wore shoes that were the same size.
They had a lot of similar interests, from music to fashion. They even dated brothers at one point. Wimberly told CNN that it was an “unbreakable bond” for the both of them.
They had bumped into each other before, but it was during a birthday celebration in Philadelphia in 2004, when they were still both young teenagers and they “immediately bonded,” according to Wimberly.
They’re still close after seventeen years, and they’ve never gone a day without talking on the phone.
“We’re like glue to each other,” Thomas said. They referred to themselves as sisters for a long time.
But in February, they found out that they are actually biological sisters.
“It was a puzzle, and it’s like all the pieces came together so fast,” Thomas said.
Wimberly, 29, hosted a party to celebrate her engagement in January, and the pieces began to fall into place.
On Facebook, Thomas, 31, posted images from the party. Kenneth Wimberly, Wimberly’s father, was included in a few of the images.
When a friend of Thomas’ mother was going through the images on the internet, she noticed Kenneth and realized she recognized 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 recognized the woman right away. Later, when Thomas’ mother was shown a photo, he identified her as well. He even claimed that the two had a brief romantic relationship.
He also learnt at that time that Thomas had no idea who her biological father was, and wondered whether it was him.
The three decided to split the expense of a DNA test to find out.
The findings were received on February 21, indicating 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 was 15 years old when she discovered that her biological father was not the man who raised her.
Her mother, who passed away 11 years ago, never informed her who her father might have been. Thomas’ family had never met Wimberly’s family, thus they were unaware that it could have been Kenneth.
Kenneth, on the other hand, continued to play 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.”
The three had always been tight, almost as if they were family. Their new reality, however, will take some time to adjust to.
“It’s just a weird feeling,” said Thomas, who has two children. “It’s definitely going to take some time. I’m still in disbelief. But I want him to be a part of his grandchildren’s lives.”
Wimberly expressed her joy at the formalization of their sisterhood, but she also feels terrible since Kenneth was more involved in her life than Thomas.
“I watched Ashley go through so many things growing up and now all I can think about is that her father was here and he could have been there for her just like he was for me,” said Wimberly. “So that’s very emotional.”
Kenneth, for one, expressed interest in deepening his relationship with Thomas and “loving her as his daughter,” as well as spending more time with them.
“I’ve always seen the little ones around and this entire time they were my grandchildren and I didn’t even know,” he said.