By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
Rice changed Belinda Boord and Brad Eagle’s lives.
She had a stopped-up kitchen sink.
He was a plumber.
She wasn’t there when he came to fix it, but her mother was.
“She had a daughter who was still single — me — and he was single. He didn’t stand a chance,” Belinda joked. “So the joke is, be careful of what you find beneath the sink.”
He made her laugh — and she found out she intimidated him.
“I don’t know why. I don’t think he ever did tell me why. He still doesn’t know why,” she said with a laugh.
They started dating and after about a year, got married 10 years ago.
She was an elementary school teacher and moved back to her native Fairmont in about 1991 or 1992, she said.
“We both knew we wanted children right away,” she said.
When they found out she couldn’t have children, they transferred that love to pets.
“When two dogs and two cats were enough, we started looking at adoption,” she said. “We didn’t have a problem with the concept of adoption. I don’t think you have to give birth to love someone. You were born in my heart. That’s what it is about.”
They chose to adopt through foster care.
“They needed us the most. They need to know what unconditional love is, what life is supposed to be about, that life is not supposed to be scary.”
They were open to adopting older children and siblings. That would be their best — and fastest — bet in adopting, she said.
“But that’s not what we got,” she added.
They did parent training in May, were certified in June and in August got a call that a 6-week-old infant was eligible for adoption. Her birth parents had lost their parental rights, they were told.
“We had about 12 hours to get the house ready for a baby,” she said. “We had nothing. It’s amazing how fast you can move.
“We picked her up and raised her and went on with life. This is what life is supposed to be.”
Little Jani had some physical issues through neglect, Eagle said.
“But we worked through those and helped her develop. This is our world. And six years later, we’re still doing it. We take full credit for her being spoiled. We admit to being overindulgent parents.”
She wanted a little brother or sister. And they happily are obliging by adopting two little brothers and a sister.
“She always wanted a baby brother. Well, here you go,” Eagle said with a laugh.
“Four more (home) visits and court dates, and they’re ours legally. The adoption worker assured us as long as we want them, they’re ours. We’re just going through the technical part.
“We don’t know what their past is, but this is what their life is here.”
The Eagles wanted just one more child, she said.
“They’re trying to keep the siblings together and these three met our ‘requirements’: They were legally free for adoption and they’re all younger than Jani.”
Or, as Jani put it, “It would be more equal if we had two and two. It would be more fair. It made sense to her,” her mom said.
Compared to the people she’s met and the places she’s traveled, being a mom “is the coolest thing,” she said.
“It’s amazing to watch them and see how they’ve changed every day. It’s amazing how they’ve grown in the two months they’ve been here.
“The coolest thing is watching them and not knowing what I’m doing but seeing they’re doing something right. Like the first time I saw Jani in day care interacting with her friends. There was something I did that allowed her to be confident enough to do that.”
Two grown-ups, four children under the age of 6. You do the stress test.
“Obviously there are moments of stress,” she said. “The littles get to be a bit much for Jani. She spent six years alone, but she does have her room with a door and they’re not allowed on the other side.
“We wanted to show them life is good, that they will be taken care of and life is enjoyable. It’s not supposed to be fearful.
“It took six years, but they’re here and they’re not going anywhere.
“I’m proud of my family and what we’re able to do. Adoption isn’t easy. It’s not for everyone.
“But if you’re tough enough to do it, there are lots of kids who need your help.”
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.