Becoming a dad is a thoroughly different experience for everyone. For Jerry Windle, fatherhood was something he dreamed of for as long as he could remember. But as a single gay man, adoption seemed like an impossible dream.
After moving from California to Florida in his mid-30s, Jerry flipped through a magazine absentmindedly in his doctor’s waiting room. Everything changed in an instant for Jerry when he stumbled upon an article detailing a man not unlike himself – the man was single, but to Jerry’s surprise, the man in the article adopted a son. If that man could do it, why not him?
“I called the agency [named in the article] and just said, ‘Is it possible for a single person to adopt?’ and they said, ‘Yes,'” Jerry recalled to Good Morning America. “I got a packet of information and an application about a week later and I took probably three days and filled out every single document, got fingerprinted, filled out my background information, I did everything.”
Before long, Jerry learned about a young boy living in an orphanage in Cambodia. From the moment he saw the very first picture, he knew the boy in the photo was meant to be his son.
“It was done the second I opened the envelope and saw that photograph,” he said. “I sent a photo of me and asked them to give it to him in a necklace and explain to him that I was his daddy and was going to be coming to get him.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
Five months after he dove head-first into the adoption process, Jerry brought his 18-month-old son home. He named his son Jordan, and from day one, he promised the wide-eyed toddler that he’d be the absolute best dad he could be.
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At age 7, Jerry enrolled Jordan in an aquatics summer camp on a whim. The last-minute decision proved to be one that changed the trajectory of Jordan’s life. Early on, the man running the camp, Tim O’Brien (who happened to be the son of Dr. Ron O’Brien, a skilled Olympic diving coach), noticed Jordan’s talent. With Tim’s encouragement, Jerry enrolled Jordan in diving classes where he found both joy and success.
Jordan continued diving, and in the June Olympic trials, he placed second. Jerry couldn’t attend the Tokyo Olympics in person due to COVID restrictions, but the father and son FaceTimed daily. The Olympic competition was one of the first Jerry missed throughout his son’s diving career, so Jordan knew he had his number one supporter cheering back home.
Jerry Windle, in spite of all obstacles, achieved his life-long dream of becoming a dad. When Jordan entered his life, like many dads, Jerry had a new dream: to support his son in achieving his dreams. As far as we’re concerned, Jerry scored a perfect 10.
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