The longtime friends who made headlines after discovering they are half-brothers have another reason to celebrate these days: it turns out they have a third brother.
Markus Tolson and Walter Gordy III, who both grew up as only children, were ecstatic after a genetic test by genomics company 23andMe revealed they’re actually relatives. In an exclusive interview with Atlanta Black Star, the brothers said they were even more excited when they realized they had another sibling.
Gordy recalled the moment he “freaked out” upon making the discovery in January.
“So I log on, and I see a brother,” he said, noting that this new member of their family was above Tolson’s name in his list of familial matches. “The way 23andMe works is the [site] does it by your strength of relationship … and this guy, our brother, jumped Mark” as my number two match.
Gordy said he immediately called Tolson, and the two tripped out over the good news together. Just like that, their newfound family had grown by one.
The brothers hit a brick wall, however, after reaching out to their sibling and getting no response.
“I think he may not have known his situation,” Gordy said. “We just want to hopefully meet him one day and see what his story is.”
It would be 35 years before Tolson and Gordy discovered their own stories. The two grew up in Houston, Texas, and had been friends for 12 years. They attended the same church and ran in the same circles. But unbeknownst to them, they shared much more in common than they ever imagined.
Gordy described his childhood as a “happy” one, but said he always wanted siblings. The situation was a little different for Tolson, who grew up without a father and recalled the sadness he felt when he’d always have to “share” a dad with someone else during father-son mass.
“I would cry about it,” he said.
It wasn’t until the age of 12 that Tolson said his mother sat him down and explained how he was conceived: artificial insemination. After that, Tolson said he got along fine without a dad but became curious about his ancestry after having a son of his own, which led him to 23andMe.
For Gordy, it was a life-changing health scare that prompted him to dig into his medical history. The 37-year-old was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014 but beat the disease after just nine months. Like Tolson, he knew little about his biological dad and yearned to know more about that side of his family.
Gordy took the 23andMe test, and four years later, his longtime friend was calling him with the shocking news that they were brothers. But how?
Gordy was just 13 when his grandmother broke the news to him: the man he had always thought was his father wasn’t blood. His mother confirmed the news, explaining that before she and his father split, they had trouble conceiving. So she was artificially inseminated via a medical school program that paid med students to donate their sperm to help cover the cost of their tuition.
As it turns out, Tolson and Gordy’s mothers had chosen the SAME donor and were inseminated by the same doctor. Neither had met the man who provided them his sperm.
“That process was very expensive at that time,” Gordy explained. “And it was very rare for African-Americans to consider [artificial insemination] in the first place. But it did happen.”
An even more shocking twist that brought the skeptics out of the woodwork was the fact that the two mothers started attending the same church and even sang in the same choir, never knowing their sons were related.
“Back in the day, in the ’80s, this wasn’t a very popular thing to do,” said Tolson. “And in some cases, it was almost shameful to some people. So it wasn’t something [our mothers] were walking around bragging about.”
Gordy and Tolson, 36, said they’re definitely interested in finding their biological dad, whoever and wherever he is, but have little information to go off of. For one, they don’t even know his name.
The brothers said they’re also open to the possibility of discovering new siblings.
“I would love to have a sister,” Tolson said. “Would love to see if we have other brothers, other siblings out there, as well as our father. That’s the main reason I got on 23andMe.”
The duo said they’re not looking to break up any happy homes, and aren’t seeking anything but a relationship with their dad.
“I’m just curious to know who my family is,” said Gordy.
Watch more in the clip below.