The way in which a child is brought in to this world truly does not matter, parents simply enjoy the journey of creating and bringing new life into the world. This couple, Aaron and Rachel Halbert have a story that stuns. The couple had triplets but something seemed strange to the staff at the hospital, what were they hiding?
The couple originally came from different parts of the world. Rachel grew up in Mississippi Delta. Whereas, Aaron was born and raised in Honduras where his parents were evangelical missionaries. Rachel was not opened to the world of racial diversity, however, Aaron was familiar with this notion as the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid in his hometown. As a young adult Rachel started going on mission trips. She decided later on that she wanted more responsibility and experience.
The couple met back in 2004 on a blind date. To them it was basically love at first sight. The pair shared the same dream of changing the world through the gospel. They were also both missionaries. From that very moment, they knew that the future would hold a wedding and a family. The pair were not in any hurry and continued dating and learning about one another.
Taking It Slow
The two became closer during their missionary trips. Eventually, their relationship progressed into the exclusive category. The pair continued dating and shared a special connection, something that made their bond even stronger is that they wanted to adopt kids. Aaron told the Washington Post, “When we were still dating, a common bond that drew us together was the fact that Rachel and I both wanted to adopt.”
The couple had no fertility issues but simply felt that the Christian thing to do was to adopt. While we were fertile, we were both deeply convicted that one of the ways to be pro-life is to involve ourselves in adoption,” he explained. As soon as they began to speak about adoption they knew that they wanted to be with one another for the rest of their lives. So, Aaron eventually popped the question and proposed. Of course, she said “yes.” Their wedding day was soon to follow.
Tons of people struggle to find the one and spend most of their adult years in search of their partner. This was not the case for Aaron and Rachel, they shared an instant connection. The pair married in 2006. Once married, they were eager to have children but decided to wait a bit. As much as they wanted to be parents they knew that their missionary work made it challenging. They had faith that the right time would come about soon enough…
Not too much time had passed after being married when the couple received an offer to return to Honduras. They decided to join the mission and they traveled to Honduras a little later in that year, this was Aaron’s hometown. Rachel was excited to see where he grew up. Missionaries acted as teachers in a town just next to Tegucigalpa. It may not be our ideal honeymoon but to the couple it was the ideal retreat. When they arrived they started noticing a few changes in the region, but…
The couple had been there for months and felt concerned about the community, they were not shy to speak of them. It was apparent that the churches needed to teach the gospel. The Halberts knew that they had a mission, a purpose to fulfill there. Unfortunately, it was their time to return home, as much as they wanted to stay they were unable to. They never forgot about the community but returned to Mississippi satisfied with their accomplishments. At home, a huge change was waiting for them
As they settled into their regular activities and lives, Aaron had a different idea. Aaron had always dreamt of getting a Master of Divinity, this is a pastoral degree. That is what he did, he started school at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. The entire time the couple longed to return to Honduras. A few years passed and the couple began to think about having their first child, whether they should adopt or conceive.
Aaron and Rachel wanted to serve their own community in Mississipi too. As missionaries they felt that there was always more to be done. Aaron worked at the Second Presbyterian in Yazoo City, he was an intern and youth director there. The pair began to lean more towards adoption. When speaking to the Washington Post Aaron said, “We see the protection of children not as charity, nor as part of a political agenda, but as something near to the heart of God.”
The couple thought about visiting Honduras for a while. They were well aware of the needs of the community there. Aaron and Rachel returned on a mission with the Presbyterian Church of America. They decided to attempt to conceive naturally but visited an adoption agency too. They went to an agency in Mississippi for the day and educated themselves. They were truly ready to start a family of their own.
Once they had visited the adoption agency they knew this was the right thing for them to do. The couple was aware that it was tough for orphans to find homes and often for non-Caucasians specifically. The couple said they would adopt any child except a caucasian one. They were intent that if God wanted them to have a caucasian child Rachel would conceive, “We did this with the deeply held conviction that if the Lord wanted us to have a fully Caucasian child my wife would conceive naturally.” So what happened next?
The agency found a match quickly for the Halberts. They had definitely made the right decision. The Halberts fell in love with two kids- a baby boy and a girl that were of African-American descent. So, they decided to adopt two children. Ford and Catherine were adopted with open and welcoming arms into their family. The couple was excited but knew that they would have some challenges as a multi-racial family. No matter their concerns they had faith that they could conquer anything.
The couple found themselves discussing having more kids, quite soon after their adoption. Of course, as new parents they were busy, so it may have not been the right time for them. However, a friend told them about embryo adoption and advised that they look into it, they saw this as a sign. They researched and educated themselves on the topic as it was the first they had heard of it.
In the upcoming weeks they would learn as m such as they could regarding the topic. Aaron explained, “We live in a world with hundreds of thousands of embryos frozen in the United States alone. Most who aren’t selected by their biological parents are donated to science or destroyed or kept frozen.” This means that often embryos are wasted, this method in turn lets other people adopt and use these embryos. The couple was instantly attracted to the idea.
The couple felt obligated to utilize the method once they had completed their research. The method would mean that Rachel carries the babies to term and experiences a pregnancy. The couple’s beliefs were the backbone behind their decision. Aaron explained, “If Christians – or others – really believe life begins at conception, it follows that we should respond by being willing to support embryo adoption and even take part in it ourselves.” The couple had made their decision and approached the National Embryo Donation Center to start the process.
Rachel was ecstatic to get the process started. of course, she was also nervous and a bit scared. Rachel would have to undergo treatments to prepare her body for the embryo conception. All went well. When September of 2015 came around she was prepared to begin the process of in-vitro fertilization. They just had to be patient and see what was in store. This process of adoption is a difficult one.
There were a few challenges that they had to pass just like there are in normal in-vitro fertilization. They needed fate and luck to be on their side too. The process involves months of hormone treatments before the actual operation. With all of these aspects the woman only has a 10 percent chance of the embryo actually taking. Another factor is the cost as a single attempt can cost between $10,000 to $15,000! The pair must have been stressed as most insurances do not cover the cost of the process.
The couple was going through this all whilst preparing to return to Honduras for their missionary work. They were waiting to see if the implantation was a success at the time. The family along with their little ones boarded a plane to Honduras with no time to spare. Six weeks post-implantation they went to a local hospital in order to see whether they took or not. They spoke to a doctor in broken Spanish and did their best in explaining the situation.
The doctor looked a bit confused and taken aback in the appointment. Something was not adding up, he was familiar with in-vitro fertilization. The doctor questioned them as he wanted to ensure that only two embryos were implanted. The couple was told that the in-vitro worked. The couple was ecstatic. However, the doctor had more to tell them and this was the reason he had so much concern regarding the number…
When the Honduran doctor showed the couple their ultrasound, everything made sense. Rachel was, in fact, pregnant with three babies! Their family was about to have triplets and expand to 7 in no time. They were over the moon but still shocked. Aaron and Rachel saw it as a sign and that it was all God’s plan. They had both wished for a big family and it was coming true.
Aaron and Rachel were anticipating the arrival of their babies, however, Ford and Catherine were the ones who were more ecstatic. Aaron wrote on Facebook, “I felt sheer delight during this pregnancy watching my son and daughter, with his dark brown skin and her with the ringlet hair and slightly tan skin, kiss my white wife’s growing belly. Each evening they said goodnight to those three growing little girls in her belly.” Ford and Catherine were excited and eager to meet their baby sisters.
In 2016 Rachel gave birth to Anne, Whitley, and Ryley. Although it was not what they had in mind from the start, they thought it was way better. The couple was overjoyed. “Oh, how thankful we are for God blessing us with these sweet little ones He has placed in our care,” Aaron said. Aaron sees all of his kids as his biggest blessings in life. “As I look at my growing family, I prefer to take it a step further, daring to hope that our family picture is a little hint of Heaven,” he continued.
The children may not be connected by blood but Aaron and Rachel were proud to regard them as their children. The couple loved the beauty of an interracial family. Aaron said, “The beauty of a multi-ethnic family is found there, in the fact that the differences are the very thing that makes ours richer and fuller. It forces you to think in a new way about the way you think, speak, act and live. There is something beautiful and enriching being the only white face sitting and chatting with some of my African-American friends as my son gets his hair cut on a Saturday morning.”
The family had an outpour of support. Aaron revealed, “It’s been heartening to see virtually all of our friends and family express overwhelming support for our family and the unusual ways we’ve built it.” They were also happy to have completed their task. “In our minds, we are just living out our dream. A dream that may not look like the average family, but one that we are thankful could come true in light of our country’s history,” said Aaron.
Some did not approve of their life choices, however, “We knew, especially in the South, that a white couple with non-white children would draw a myriad of different reactions. There will always be the older white woman in Walmart who stared at us with sheer disgust or the African-American mother who looked at us and just shook her head,” Aaron explained to the Washington Post. There were many that did, “There was also the young black girl who wept when we told her this little boy with her skin color was our son, and the older white doctor who lovingly prayed over him and held him so tenderly,” he said.
They Don’t Mind
The family will most likely always have to deal with onlookers. The Halberts are aware that not all people are fond of diversity. But, they do not care for the approval of those people. Aaron said, “One of the central themes of Christianity is, after all, that God, through His Son, is calling people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. Grasping diversity will make the world stronger as we marvel at God’s creative genius on display through His people’s varying pigments, personalities, and proficiencies. Our differences are cause for celebration, not scorn.”
“Embryo adoption can also be very difficult for the donor family. I know the decision to donate your frozen embryos for adoption is probably the hardest you’ll ever make,” Rachel exclaimed. She has sympathy for those individuals who give up their kids. She said, “It can be so painful to know that someone else is raising your biological children. For some reason, whether medical or family size or financial or age, you are unable to have any more transfers.”
Although, embryo adoption is not for the majority it was the perfect choice for Aaron and Rachel. The couple got triplets but also the precious experience of pregnancy. Rachel explains the experience as “beautiful and unique.” She also expressed her gratitude and amendment to the “brave and selfless” biological parents who donate the embryos.
The couple feel that embryo adoption and normal adoption are just as important. The couple understands that the option is not widely known. However, millions of embryos lay waiting for donors. The embryos the couple used had been waiting for 12 years. “We were not saying that those lives are any more important than the lives of babies and children waiting to be adopted all across the world. No, they are not any more important, but they are no less important either. All of our children’s lives are valued,” Rachel explained.
Mother Of Five
Moms all around the globe will agree they have barely any free time. Now, times that by five. Things in the Halbert household get a bit busy and chaotic but nonetheless Rachel adores watching over the little ones’. She explained, “I would imagine that my life as mom looks a whole lot like the life of any mom. My days are filled with feeding five hungry kiddos, changing lots of diapers, tending to household duties, shepherding little hearts, loving on and playing with all five, doing/learning how to do hair of four beautiful girls and one handsome little guy, and finding a minute or two to eat some food myself.”