Jean Stapp from Ringgold fulfilled her lifelong dream to hold her son, Patrick Sherman, on June 12, after she’d placed him up for adoption when she was only 16 years old.
“That is one thing she told me on the phone when talked, when can we touch when can we hold,” Sherman from Washington state told WRCB-TV.
(Courtesy of Donna Afman)
Describing the special moment, Sherman, who finally got to meet his birth mom, said: “It’s like a wonderful cake, ever eaten something and it lights up every taste bud you have, you really like it and you don’t know why? Boom.”
Stapp, who grew up as a preacher’s daughter, had fallen pregnant at the age of 16. She recollects that her mother, who was really strict, didn’t want anyone to look down upon their family on learning the news. Thus, along with her mom’s friend, Stapp’s mother took her to Seattle to deliver the baby and put him up for adoption.
Sadly, after the birth of the baby boy, Stapp never got an opportunity to even hold him. “After I had it, I wasn’t allowed to see him,” Stapp said. “People was there to take him. As soon as he was born, they took him.”
Meanwhile, back at home, Stapp’s parents kept the entire episode a secret and had people believe that Stapp had flown across the country for medical reasons.
Through the years that followed, Stapp thought of her son and wondered if he was living a good life but never mentioned a word about him to anyone, including her husband of 51 years.
However, little did Stapp know that a genealogy test in Ancestry.com would reconnect the mother and son 71 years later.
Five years ago, Sherman’s oldest daughter, Adawna Ruthart, talked him into taking a test as a part of his birthday present. In hopes of connecting to his birth mother, he agreed to.
But “hope kind of died down,” and the family didn’t believe that anything would really come out of it.
In March this year, however, everything changed.
Stapp’s granddaughter Donna Afman had submitted her grandmother’s DNA to Ancestry.com in December 2020. In March 2021, when the results came back, she learned that her grandmother had a close relative named Patrick Sherman.
Afman and Ruthart then connected to each other but were completely unaware of how they were related, as Sherman’s birth certificate only stated the name “Jane Doe Bell.”
But seeing the name, “Bell” brought to mind Afman’s grandmother’s maiden name. Intrigued to find out more, she immediately called up Stapp, who already has three children, to find out if she ever had another son.
“She kind of hmmm, uh, uh, I got a lot of that for a little bit,” said Afman. Stapp then opened up about the more than 70-year-old secret that she had kept under wraps.
Before their first call, Stapp and Sherman were both nervous.
“I kept telling Donna ‘What am I going to say? What am I going to say when he calls?'” Stapp said.
After many phone calls that followed, Sherman and Stapp finally met in person on the June 12 reunion. Presenting his mother with a yellow bouquet of flowers, the two instantly connected.
Afman, who was a part of the special day, shared pictures on Facebook, writing: “What a day!! A (re) Union 71 years in the making! We are one blessed family!
“It is as if we have known each other all our lives!”
The mother-son duo has decided to continue to stay in touch via phone and FaceTime calls.