When this NFL coach tried to find his biological parents, he uncovered a staggering secret in the process

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According to the Adoption Network, a whopping 135,000 children are adopted every single year in the United States of America. These children are finally given the chance to live with their forever homes and have parents who raise them as their own, and this is enough to fill anyone with joy. Over the course of their lives, many adopted children find themselves questioning their real identity.
Who are their real parents? Where did they really come from? With a part of their story missing from the book, some of these people eventually make the decision to reach out and find their biological parents. When one NFL coach did just that, he uncovered a staggering secret in the process.
Searching for the truth
There are many children across the globe who find themselves without parents. They may have been taken away from their biological parents for their own safety, or their real mom and dad may have realized that they just didn’t have what it took to give their child a perfect life.

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Because of this, hundreds of thousands of children make their way into the foster system and hope to one day be adopted. Deland McCullough was lucky enough to be adopted at an early age, and he later grew up to become a hugely successful football coach within the NFL. However, he soon got to a stage in his life where he wanted answers to some of the questions that had plagued him for much of his life.

The man in question
However, to truly understand this story and the shocking turn of events that unfolded, we need to learn a little more about the man in question. Deland McCullough made his way into the world in 1972, but he was initially named Jon. His mother was a 16-year-old high schooler who had found herself in a sticky situation.

She had not told Jon’s father about the baby, and she knew that she couldn’t raise her son by herself. In the end, she had to make a tough choice. She gave Jon up for adoption and changed his name to Deland in an attempt to give him a brand new life with a family who could love him and take care of him.

A loving family
Although newborn babies rarely struggle to find an adoptive family, Deland waited for six weeks before he was finally blessed with a forever home. A couple who lived in Youngstown, Ohio, had fallen in love with the little bundle of joy and knew that they wanted to welcome him into their family.

Within just a few weeks the paperwork had gone through, and Deland was going home with two new parents. For the first two years, he seemed to have a perfect life. His parents loved him more than anything else in the world, but it seems as though the love they had for each other just wasn’t enough. They divorced when the youngster was just 2 years old.

Living a normal life
Despite the fact that his adoptive parents were no longer the unit he hoped they would be, Deland was lucky to have such a supportive mother. She didn’t want her divorce to affect her child, and she wanted Deland to continue living the life he deserved – with or without a father figure in his life.

To encourage Deland to stay happy and healthy as a youngster, Adelle pushed her son in the direction of extracurricular activities. She wanted him to play with other kids and find something to focus on. It was clear from a young age that Deland had a particular knack for sport, but there was one specific sport that stood out more than most…

A football star
Those around Deland could see that he was a hugely talented football player. He seemed to pick up the sport without any difficulties, and he soon excelled at school. As the years went by, Deland and his teammates helped to nurture this talent, and he seemed to get better and better.

It was clear to see that he was hugely passionate about the sport, and there was nothing he loved more than running along the field, helping his team to win their game. This happened more often than not as Deland was his team’s lucky charm, and he had become the star running back by the time he reached his senior year at high school.

College applications
Before too long, word had got around. Everyone knew that Deland would have a career in football, he just needed the means to get there. Thankfully, he didn’t have to put too much effort into his college applications, because he had a whole list of college recruiters who wanted him to join their teams.

There was one college recruiter who stood out more than most, and that was Sherman Smith. This coach worked at Miami University in Ohio, and he had nothing but praise for the youngster. As well as being coach and student, they also became good friends.

An incredible career
It didn’t take long for Deland to make a name for himself within the college circuit. He had accepted the chance to play at Miami University, and under Sherman’s guidance, they became one of the best teams in the state.

Nobody knew where his incredible talent would take him, but his friends and family knew that he had what it took to go professional. It was everything Deland had ever dreamed of, and as his college career came to an end, he heard the news he had been waiting for his whole life.

Going pro
When Deland heard the news that the Cincinnati Bengals wanted him to join their team, he couldn’t believe his ears. Every decision he had made up to that point had rested on a professional career, but he never knew whether he was good enough.

His new place within the NFL solidified the fact that he had what it took to make a difference in the world of football, and Sherman was over the moon to hear that his student had been given such an opportunity. However, Deland’s good mood soon came to an end…

Suffering an injury
Professional athletes have nightmares about injuries putting an end to their career, and Deland just couldn’t believe that his nightmare had come true. He had barely made his professional debut before a knee injury put him out of the running for good.

The youngster couldn’t believe what was happening, and even the kind words from his mentor couldn’t make the situation even better. What would he do now? Football was all he had, and he didn’t know what to do without it in his life. He would have to start all over again.

Moving on
In the end, Deland decided to move on. He tried to leave the world of football behind, and he became a family man. He got married to his lovely wife and even welcomed a few children into the world.

However, no matter how hard he tried to forget about the sport he so loved, he just couldn’t keep it out of his mind. He knew he couldn’t ignore his passion any longer, and so he decided to follow in the footsteps of many other injured athletes and become a teacher.

A football teacher
In fact, he took a job at Harmony Community School as a sports teacher and football coach. Deland soon realized that it was the perfect place for him because he was still able to utilize his skills and embrace his passion without getting on the gridiron himself.

As the years went by, he worked his way up in the world and found himself coaching the team at the University of Southern California. He was finally back on track, but there was something niggling the back of his mind. He wanted to know who his real parents were.

Starting the search
After years of wondering about his birth parents, Deland eventually decided to put a plan into action in 2016. Luckily, he chose the right time to do so.

A few months previously, the laws had changed in regards to adoption papers – and this meant that Deland could find his details with ease. He quickly uncovered the names of his birth mother and could follow up with this information. For the first time ever, he had a name to work with, which meant he could reach out via social media.

The first conversation
Deland managed to find Carol Briggs on Facebook, and they soon entered into a virtual exchange. Carol had not forgotten about the baby she had given up all those years ago, and she was more than happy to answer any questions Deland had about her.

Their first conversation was a momentous one, and it was something Deland would never forget for the rest of his life. Although he was happy to speak to his birth mother, he wanted to know a little more about his father. So, he asked for his name.

A shocking twist
In a shocking turn of events, Deland heard the name of his biological father, and he immediately caught his breath. At first, he couldn’t believe it.

He had assumed this man would be a complete stranger to him but soon realized that he had spent the past 28 years speaking to him on a regular basis and sharing their love of football. Yes, his real father was Sherman Smith! Although the pair had spoken on an almost weekly basis, neither of them knew that they were actually father and son.

Piecing it together
Deland had no idea what to make of the situation, but the more he thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense. Over the course of their relationship, those around Deland and Sherman had noted just how similar they were.

They had the same deep passion for football, they looked fairly similar, and they even had certain quirks and traits that linked them together. They laughed these comments off, but Deland soon realized that he would have to tell Sherman the truth. He dialed his number and recited his story…

Feeling guilty
As Deland told Sherman that he was his father, both of the men just couldn’t contain their emotions. They had been clueless for their whole lives, and neither of them could believe how their lives were turning out.

Sherman was incredibly happy to learn that his mentee was actually his son, but he also felt extremely guilty. He had been absent for all of Deland’s childhood, and that was something he could never forgive himself for. However, Deland was more than happy to forgive his real father. After all, he didn’t know.

Coming together
Thankfully, Deland’s adoptive mother was not upset to learn that her son had reached out to his real parents. In fact, she wanted to meet them! The family decided to come together for a huge reunion party in Nashville, where they met each other for the first time and shared their own stories and experiences.

Every member of Deland’s family got on like a house on fire, and he soon realized that he was the luckiest man in the world. He may have lost his ability to play football, but he gained so much in return.

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