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Ringgold woman to meet son for first time in 71 years

Jean Stapp got pregnant at 16 and moved across the country to have the baby 71 years ago. Her parents forced her to adopt him and keep it a secret.

RINGGOLD, Georgia – An 88-year-old woman from Ringgold will meet her son for the first time this weekend.

Jean Stapp got pregnant at 16 and moved across the country to have the baby. Her parents forced her to adopt him and keep it a secret from everyone at home.

Jean’s granddaughter, Donna Afman, submitted her DNA to Ancestry.com in December. The results returned in March and revealed that she had a close relative she had never heard of. She texted the man, they started talking and realized that this man could be his grandmother’s son.

Donna asked her grandmother about it and she told her family what happened 71 years ago.

Jean Stapp has lived in Ringgold his entire life. She grew up like a preacher’s daughter, so when she got pregnant at 16, it wasn’t ideal.

“My mom was so strict and she didn’t want anyone to look down on our family, so we had to go somewhere else to have the baby,” Stapp said.

Jean, his mother and his mother’s friend left for Seattle, everyone at home thinking it was for medical reasons.

Jean had his son and then returned to Ringgold.

“After I got it, I was not allowed to see it,” Jean said. “The people were there to take him. As soon as he was born, they took him.”

Jean never told anyone that she had this baby. Not even her husband for 51 years.

His son’s name is Patrick Sherman and he lives in Washington. Five years ago he joined ancestry.com to try and connect with his birth mother.

“The hope kind of died out, I didn’t really think anything would come of it,” said Adawna Ruthart, the eldest daughter of Patrick Sherman.

He had no success until March.

Jean’s granddaughter, Donna Afman, got her results from ancestry.com and learned that she had a close relative named Patrick Sherman.

Both connected. They didn’t know how they were related. All Patrick’s birth certificate said was Jane Doe Bell.

Donna realized that her grandmother’s maiden name was Bell. So she called to ask if she had another son.

“She kind of hmmm, uh, uh, I had a lot of that for a little while,” said Donna Afman, Jean’s granddaughter.

Jean later told him what had happened 71 years ago. She must have kept it a secret all this time. So that it is out in the open now, Jean feels that a weight has been lifted from his shoulder.

“Thinking, will I ever see him? Jean told Channel 3.

Over 70 years later, mother and son first met over the phone.

“I kept telling Donna ‘What am I going to say? What am I going to say when he calls?” said Jean.

“He was so nervous. It was the sweetest, sweetest thing,” Ruthart said. “I hadn’t seen him as happy as I never think he was.”

Patrick is flying into town this weekend to meet his mom in person for the first time.

Jean has three other children who will be there too.

Patrick has four children and several grandchildren. They will all be coming to town in September.



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