Monday, August 18, 2014

Exploring My Roots

Marlon and I recently attended a national family reunion in Richmond, VA and I was elected president of the organization. I am truly honored.

My grandma and I started going to these reunions together in 2008. Grandma used to go with granddaddy before he passed away. I told her I'd go with her. It's a national reunion so you meet cousins from all over the United States. The first one that we attended was in Savannah, GA. Grandma and I flew to Savannah, shared a room and signed up for all the events. We got dressed up and I curled her hair in the bathroom before we went out. We came back to the hotel room in the evening with her cousins that she hadn't seen in 50 years and I would listen to them laugh and tell stories about when they were growing up. It's a memory that I will treasure the rest of my life. When we came back from the reunion and told the rest of the family that we had such a grand time, they all wanted to go to the next one in Nashville, TN. Fast forward to this year's reunion in Richmond, VA.

Bus Tour in Savannah, GA July 2008

Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN July 2011
The current president of the association called me earlier this year asking me if I wanted to be nominated as president for the next term. I was surprised. I've enjoyed attending the reunions and I am interested in history, but me? I asked what it involved and told her I would have to think about it. One of my hesitations was our adoption. Would I have time to be involved in the organization if we were to become matched and parents.  Would adoption seem weird to the members because the organization is based on preserving genealogy? I thought about it and really wanted to do it for my grandma. The association is very important to her and I want to honor her heritage and mine. I accepted the nomination and was voted in as president at the reunion in July. Grandma wasn't able to make the trip, she's 90 now, but I know she is very proud of me.

The reunion was a lot of fun. I was a nervous wreck for about half of it knowing I had to do the invocation and a speech.  After full days of tours, dinners and mingling, I was up half night the tweaking my speeches.  I am an open book and happily write my blog, but to actually have to talk in front of a group of people, cousins or not, is not my strong suit. If I commit to something, I commit 100%. So, I made my speeches.

Boarding for the Colonials and Cannonballs tour!
Richmond, VA July 2014
An interesting little note, our ancestor that first came to America had lost both of his parents by the age of 10. Before she passed away, his mother had asked a group of Quakers to take care of him. Sounds kind of like an adoption. We don't have a lot of details of what happened after his mother passed and when he came to America at around the age of 20, but someone was looking out for him.

Hanging out with Richard Henry Lee
and Thomas Jefferson. "Tom" and I are
both third presidents.
All the cousins were so welcoming and enthusiastic about me becoming president. Everyone was also very supportive of our adoption and asking how they could help us. I am truly fortunate.  I want to do a good job for them and the association. The past president has done an excellent job for 12 years, so I am filling big shoes.  It's exciting! I am planning the next reunion in three years in Charleston, SC. The board has great ideas on how to increase membership and bring the organization to the next generation.  I hope I can lead them all the way! I've made so many new, wonderful friends in the last month. I am truly honored to be a part of this family.

Frances/Emma "Belmead" and
originally the land of our ancestor.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

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