Jerry Windle simply wanted to raise a child, even though he was a single gay man. When he adopted Jordan in Cambodia, he had no idea that his son would become a global inspiration.
About two decades ago, Jerry Windle was a single man in his mid-30s whose life had been going through turmoil. His mother had passed away, so he decided to make a career change and move to Florida from California.
He had wanted to become a father for many years. He had been trying to adopt a child, but the opportunities to adopt, especially as a single, gay man, were very few. He casually browsed through a magazine article while waiting at the doctor's office in Florida, changing his life forever.
Despite the difficulties he had experienced trying to adopt, the magazine article describing another single gay man's adoption story reignited lost hope.
JERRY'S JOURNEY TO FATHERHOOD
He quickly contacted the Cambodian orphanage. Months later, he arrived in Cambodia to begin his journey to fatherhood. While there, he met baby Jordan and immediately fell in love. Jordan was a sickly two-year-old who weighed only 16 pounds.
Jerry wasn't even sure how long baby Jordan would survive. "I promised him that I would do everything that I could, that he wouldn't ever have to suffer again. I would make every sacrifice I could as a parent to get him every opportunity," said Jerry.
JORDAN'S INCREDIBLE DIVING SKILLS
When Jordan turned seven, he developed a love for diving. Jerry allowed him to follow this new passion and signed him up for lessons at an aquatics summer camp.
Just two years later, he won his first junior national championship — a rare feat that further cemented his passion for diving.
Jordan worked consistently to hone his diving skills. When he turned 16, he revisited his birth nation, Cambodia, to participate in a diving exhibition. He even spoke with some of the children he inspired with his skills and life story.
Jordan Windle reacts after placing second in the men's 10 meter platform final and qualifying for the Olympic team during the 2021 U.S Olympic trials - Diving - Day 7 at Indiana University Natatorium on June 12, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana | Photo: Dylan Buell/ Getty Images
Sadly, Jerry could not watch his son compete due to Covid-19 restrictions. But that did not get Jordan down.
"Being able to speak to them, through a translator, and share where I came from in my life and how I was able to become who I am today because of my dad was awesome," said Jordan.
THE JOURNEY TO THE OLYMPIC STAGE
Six years after the life-affirming experience of traveling back to Cambodia, Jordan proudly represented The United States of America at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
He also said he would be representing Cambodia in his heart. He had the Cambodian flag tattooed on his arm, and he could not wait to show it off.
Jordan previously competed twice at the Olympic trials but failed to qualify. On his third try, he placed second in the 10-meter platform dive.
Jordan wanted to use this opportunity to inspire people. He said, "[There'll be] a lot of people, a lot more eyes on me, but if anything, it just makes me excited to be able to perform at my best and show that all this hard work can hopefully pay off."
Sadly, Jerry could not watch his son compete due to Covid-19 restrictions. But that did not get Jordan down. His plans to enjoy the Olympics remained intact. Jordan said:
"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."
The father-and-son duo even co-authored a book titled "An Orphan No More: The True Story of a Boy." The book portrayed the power of love through animal characters, a perfect read for the whole family.
From the moment Jerry made the promise to give his son every opportunity he could, he changed Jordan's life forever. Jordan's resilience and determination remain an inspiration.
Even though Jerry was sad to be absent from the Olympics, he is proud of his son's accomplishments.
If this story warmed your heart, you might like this one about a single gay dad who adopted a little girl with Down Syndrome after being rejected by 20 families. You can read the complete story here.