Single Dad Adopted An Orphan Struggling To Stay Alive. Today, The Same Boy Is Making America Proud At Olympics

Single Dad Adopted An Orphan Struggling To Stay Alive. Today, The Same Boy Is Making America Proud At Olympics

Being a single gay man in the 1990s, Jerry Windle knew that his options were limited when it came to becoming a father. But when he met Jordan, he knew he wanted to adopt him.

Cover image source: Getty | Photo by Dylan Buel

It takes just one moment for someone's life to be completely changed and Jordan Windle can vouch for it. Jordan had a rough beginning in life but little did he know that an angel would rush in and change his life for the best. It was none other than his adoptive father Jerry Windle. Being a single gay man in the 1990s, Windle knew that his options were limited when it came to becoming a father. "I started thumbing through a magazine and there was a story in there of a man who adopted a child from Cambodia, and it didn't mention a mother," he recalled. "The story went on to talk about the close relationship between the father and his son, and something kind of clicked in my head ... The article listed (the number of an adoption service) and so I called the number and I said 'I just read an article, is it possible for a single person to adopt a child?' and they said 'Yes, it is.'"


Months after this exchange, he met an 18-month-old Jordan at a Cambodian orphanage and fell in love with him. At the time, the little boy was very sick as he was fighting an infection and was in a malnourished state. Despite the fact that he was struggling to stay alive, Windle knew he had to care for and love him with everything he had. Today, Jordan is going to the Olympics. According to TODAY, he is representing the United States on the U.S. Olympic Diving Team after coming in second at the Olympic trials. Although Windle won't be able to see his son compete due to COVID restrictions, Jordan says his old man is "super excited."


"I can usually hear (my dad) out of everyone in the audience, which is awesome. Not having him at the Olympics will be different," said the young man. "I wish he was there, but that doesn't really change what I'm going there to do: To have fun, show off a little bit, and put on a show for everyone. That's going to be my intention and I'm hopefully going to make him proud." Jordan began his Olympics journey quite early. When he was just 7, Tim O'Brien told Windle that his son reminded him of the legendary diver Greg Louganis. Now O'Brien's father, Dr. Ron O'Brien, had long been Louganis's Olympic coach and had reportedly coached Team USA over the course of eight Olympic Games.


As for Jordan, he seemed very interested in getting diving lessons as well and so Windle agreed. "So at 7 years old he started diving, and he won his first junior national championship two years later, which is almost unprecedented for somebody that just got into a sport," recalled the proud father. "I know the hard work that he's put into it, it's been earned, and I'm just really excited and proud that with his coaching staff, he's been able to accomplish such an amazing feat." When Jordan was 16, he returned to Cambodia alongside his father to take part in a diving exhibition, aimed at inspiring young children in the country and was left surprised by everyone's response there. 


"There was a sea of media ... We didn't expect it, we didn't know how much the people of Cambodia knew Jordan, and they knew him because of the internet ... He's kind of a national hero in Cambodia," said Windle. "We got off the airplane and I started looking all over the place, thinking Angelina Jolie had just arrived or something. We really thought either the king of Cambodia or Angelina Jolie was here, someone big." Meanwhile, Jordan said, "I went there (to) put on an exhibition for orphans and school kids that haven't really had the opportunity to grow, and it was extraordinary. Being able to speak to them, through a translator, and share where I came from in my life and how I was able to actually become who I am today because of my dad was awesome." 


While addressing the crowd at the exhibition, he looked at Cambodia's government officials and said, "I hope you give all these children the opportunity that my dad gave me," according to Windle. Today, six years later, Jordan has reached new heights in his career. As he represents the United States while competing at the Olympics, he will also be representing Cambodia. Although Windle couldn't travel to Tokyo to cheer his son from the stands, he says, "Jordan knows that I'm with him. That I physically can't be there is incredibly disappointing because I just love the show that he puts on." Jordan shared that he would be thinking of his father as he competes in Tokyo. "I tell everyone, when they ask me why I dive, I dive purely for my dad and how much he loves watching me," he said. "Without him making all the sacrifices that he has, and his love and support the whole time we've been together, I really wouldn't be where I am today. I have him to thank for everything, all my accomplishments. It's been an amazing journey with him, and we're still rolling."

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