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Published 12/26/2009 at 10:10am  |  Views: 8887
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by Robyn Bradley Litchfield
Original Article

The T-shirts, socks, boots and scrapbook that Ted Brewer found under the Christmas tree were wonderful, but it was the gift he received that evening that he will remember all his life.

For much of Brewer's 24 years, he'd wanted to find his birth mother. He didn't know that for years she was also looking for him.

Ted Brewer and his birth mother, Lisa Loyed Bryant, look at the only photograph she had of him, a snapshot taken in the hospital when he was born, as they meet on Christmas night in Montgomery.
They met on Christmas.

A few minutes after 7 p.m. Friday, the Montgomery man who is in the Alabama Army National Guard met his birth mother and a sister, two brothers and a nephew that until this week he'd never known he had.

He also met a handful of other relatives that his mother brought to meet him.

Brewer only found out who she was on Tuesday, thanks to Montgomery private investigator Jennifer Talley and Facebook.

His birth mother, Lisa Loyed Bryant, who lives in Natchez, Miss., drove all day on Christmas so she and her family could meet him.

"It was a very surreal moment," Brewer said late Christmas morning as he prepared for the meeting. "Talking with her on the phone, I was so excited and so nervous I can't really describe the feeling -- it's just so overwhelming."

Bryant and her family were already in the east Montgomery hotel lobby Friday evening when Brewer and his wife, Emily Rhodes Brewer, arrived. They didn't say much until after their long embrace. There were many tears -- tears of joy -- as family members looked on.

Once Brewer had met his brothers Phillip Breland and Lee Swinny and sister Ariane Swinny and her 2-year-old son, Peyton Swinny, the family moved to a large sofa in the lobby, where everybody crowded around the coffee table to check out Brewer's life in photographs.

He also shared scrapbooks that his adoptive parents, David and Merrily Brewer of Pike Road, had made for him. Thumbing through the pages, he identified special people, places and things that have been part of his life since his mom and dad brought him home when he was about 4 months old.

"Mom and Dad are two of the greatest gifts God has given me," Brewer said. "They are living saints and raised me in a Christian household and have given me so much support."

After a few minutes, David and Merrily Brewer dropped by the hotel to meet the woman who gave birth to their only child. As they entered Bryant walked over to hug both of them, and Brewer smiled as he introduced his mom and dad to his birth mom.

Bryant said she never wanted to give up her baby boy, who was born Jan. 23, 1985, but she was just 18 and not married to his birth father at the time. By the seventh month of her pregnancy, she came to the conclusion that he could have a much better life if she put him up for adoption.

"I struggled with that decision," Bryant said.

She said she always hoped that one day she would find him. When he turned 18, she began her search in earnest, always looking for a Peter Ross Loyed, the name she gave her baby, the baby she was not allowed to hold.

A labor and delivery nurse had snapped a photograph of the newborn for her -- a photograph and an image she held onto all these years.

It was on Tuesday that Brewer turned over his adoption paperwork to Talley, who immediately started searching for the birth mom online.

Within a couple of hours, she had found Bryant, who had posted information about her baby boy at several sites. Talley also found Bryant's Facebook page and sent her a message.

When she checked her Facebook inbox and found the message, Bryant said she could barely dial her cousin Tammie Chafton's number.

"I knew it was him," said Bryant, who immediately contacted Talley to ask her to have Brewer call that evening.

Before the end of the day, they were on the phone and making plans to meet for Christmas in Montgomery. He also made contact by phone with his birth father, Mike Watson, who now lives in Louisiana, and they plan to meet within a few weeks.

That is in the future. For Brewer and Bryant the gift they've received this Christmas -- a Christmas present, and presence, for which they'd yearned for years -- is enough.