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Reader Voices: Finding family, both living and deceased

SHARE Reader Voices: Finding family, both living and deceased

Mike Terry, Deseret News

It all began some 25 years earlier. A beautiful baby girl was born to Frances Cordova in Albuquerque, N.M., on May 18, 1970. This was a loving mother who placed her child for adoption, a mother who never had the pleasure of seeing her offspring in this life: Frances was killed in an automobile accident in 1986.

My wife, Jane Jones, and I, who lived in Tatum, N.M., at the time, were the fortunate adoptive parents of this child. It was a glorious day in August 1970 when we were allowed to pick her up, and we immediately gave her the name Leesa Marie Jones. What a pleasure to have such a sweet bundle of joy in our home.

Leesa was a "papa's girl," and Papa could do no wrong and Papa could fix or do anything, at least in the eyes and mind of this little sweetheart.

We had always told Leesa that if at all possible, someday we would help her find her biological family. Then it happened. After a court order to have her records opened, Leesa was put in contact with her biological mother's family. After a few days of anxious preparation, a family reunion and luncheon was set up for Nov. 18, 1995, at a restaurant in Albuquerque.

On the way to the reunion Leesa quietly and sadly asked, "What if they don't accept me?" I assured her that not one soul there would not be just as excited about this great day as she was.

Well, the time had come and we had arrived. It was a warm, clear, sunny fall day. When we all got out of the vehicle we could see the many curious eyes and faces looking out of the windows. No mistake about it — that lovely family thought they were seeing a ghost because, as we found out later, Leesa, with her 6-foot frame, stood out as a living image of her parent. Tears of happiness, hugs of great warmth and tender feelings were the order of the day.

Aunts, uncles and cousins all had a good time sharing pictures, mementos, stories and awe.

Yes, Thanksgiving came a few days early that year. And it was nice to be a "fly on the wall" and observe this great event! After all, "Frances' baby had come back!"

The search for her biological father revealed some clues but nothing conclusive about how to contact him. However, we may have found him through new.familysearch.org; he passed away in 2004.

In 2007, I had a heart attack and was in a coma for 30 days. The doctor told my wife she might as well "pull the plug" because I would never recover, since I was considered "brain dead." My wife told the doctor she wouldn't take me off life support "because (I) was not through with her family history yet."

After spending eight and a half months in five different hospitals in Lubbock, Texas, I was brought a singing card from the hospital staff the day of my release that proclaimed "I'm a Survivor." My wife's statement was somewhat prophetic because I have since researched and added more than 70,000 names to our website, which now totals more than 235,000.

It was the efforts of two fine young men who were serving their missions in Artesia, N.M., in 1962 and "knocked on my door" one evening that I must give credit to for my "addiction" to genealogy. I have remained in some contact with one, Spencer Stevens of Fillmore, and have told him that he is responsible for those numerous individuals on my website and the temple work for my family that has been done in the House of the Lord.

Earl Lee Jones is a member of the Hobbs Ward, Roswell New Mexico Stake, and his family history website is www.earljones.net.