Jim and Jackie Brewer sat down at their Ellenboro home recently and talked about their reunion with a niece and nephew last month in Lumberton and how after five decades, Jim never forgot the children of his brother and his passion to find them. Jim admitted during some years of his life when he was busy with his work, he didn't have the time to try to find family. After retirement he began the search.
Niece Tammy, 51, was born in Lumberton. She is single. Nephew Eric, 51, is a single parent and lives in Illinois. He was accompanied by his daughter for the reunion in Lumberton. The two made the 2,400 mile trip from Central Illinois through southern states and eastern North Carolina for their first ever meeting with his sister Tammy just weeks ago.
Eric is seven months her junior and was born in Peoria, Illinois.
Their father is Jeff Brewer, Jim's younger brother. The siblings have different mothers.
A third sibling, Josh, has not met his brother, Eric. The father of these three has not attended any of the meetings and remains silent.
Tammy was raised by her mother, and while as a young girl, carried the stigma of not having a father. Eric was adopted at birth and his adoptive parents divorced when he was 16. Eric lived with his adoptive father.
Due to the unfortunate family dynamics, Tammy, Eric and Josh knew nothing of each other nor their uncle Jim.
After years of research and using a DNA kit, Jim and his wife, Jackie, began to put the family members together. Jim was passionate about locating his brother's children.
The first connection was through DNA. Jim posted a notice of search and Tammy eventually responded and the rest is history. Email correspondence between the two and finally sharing a photo proved Tammy's connection to Jim's brother, Jeff.
"Tammy had been searching for 28 years" Jim said of her search for her father. When Tammy emailed him, she told him she was Jeff's biological daughter but knew nothing of Jeff until she was 20 years old
Eric was found through searching of records through court houses, libraries and obituaries.
While this search was very personal to Jim and Jackie, as a team they have done close to 200 family trees and are volunteers at the Genealogy Library on Doggett Road in Forest City.
They have never found a challenge they did not love and they enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
The family spent a week together in Lumberton catching up the past and before the week was over it was "Uncle Jim" and "Sis" and "Brother."