From Adoption To Olympic Dreams

The Indianapolis Star shared the story of 13 year old Jordan Pisey Windle, considered a diving phenom and the youngest ever to qualify for the U.S. Olympic diving trials. Born in Cambodia, he was adopted by a single father, Jerry Windle in 2001. Neither Jordan nor Jerry were thinking about diving or the Olympics at that time, but it is constantly on their minds now as he trains and lives in Indianapolis.

Jordan’s adoption story may be familiar to many adoptive parents, although at that point, Jerry was managing all of the adjustment on his own as a single father.

…The toddler’s first trip with his new father was to a hospital to resolve a raft of medical problems. One of more than 100 orphans in the open-air facility, Jordan was infested with intestinal parasites and scabies, had an array of cuts and welts on his legs from the bamboo basket he slept in and was suffering from a severe urinary tract infection.

When Windle brought his son home to Naples, Fla., he faced another hurdle: Jordan spoke and understood only Khmer. Rather than force a new language on his son, Windle taught him sign language to communicate his basic needs. Within six months, Jordan was speaking and comprehending English.

…After second grade, Windle enrolled Jordan in a summer camp at the Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale. It was there he caught the eye of diving coach Tim O’Brien.

O’Brien’s father, Ron, had coached four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, and he saw parallels between the two. Louganis saw not only Jordan’s physical ability but also the emotional and intellectual makeup of a future champion. "For an 8-year-old, he asked very insightful questions," Louganis said.

…In November 2010, the three (the family had now expanded to include Andrés Rodriquez) left Florida and relocated to Indianapolis, home of the Natatorium and USA Diving’s dry-land training facility. The family quickly settled into a routine that is at once mundane and extraordinary.

…Jordan trains eight to nine hours a day, six days a week at the dry-land facility and the Natatorium. When he is not working on his diving, he studies ballet and uses Pilates and weight training to improve his fitness. His training regimen doesn’t accommodate formal school settings, so he attends Indiana Connections Academy, a virtual school serving about 2,500 kids statewide.

… Jordan will be traveling to Seattle for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, June 17 to 24, where he will compete for a ticket to London in 10-meter synchronized diving with his teammate, Toby Stanley.

It’s an intense undertaking, but Jordan doesn’t seem put out or put upon. "I love diving, I love to do it, it’s just fun to me," he said with another shrug. The diver wants to perform well in Seattle, but he is not preoccupied with making the Olympic team this year. That may be due, in part, to the fact that those around him see an Olympiad in his future.

"This is a good setup for 2016," Louganis said. "This is a time to learn. It’s a learning process and a journey."

If Jordan’s journey continues as expected, don’t be surprised to turn on the television during the Rio de Janeiro games and see a tear-jerking vignette about the diver’s adoption…

Click through to the Indianapolis Star to read more of Jordan’s story. Jerry and Jordan have written a book An Orphan No More: The True Story of a Boy – chapter one, which can be found along with more of his story on his website. Also on his website, you can find several videos, including one titled "It Gets Better" which encourages children who are teased for being different to be strong and know they are not alone. We hope to be cheering for Jordan as we watch his Olympic dreams come true in London and Rio de Janeiro.

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MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.