It doesn’t matter how and in what way a child is brought into this world, as parents would feel nothing but joy as they go through the journey of creating and bringing new life into this world. However, this couple named Aaron and Rachel Halbert has a story that seems to be out of the ordinary. The two of them had triplets, but something seemed strange to the hospital staff. What were they hiding from everyone there?
The couple initially came from different areas of the world. Rachel grew up in Mississippi Delta, while Aaron was born and raised in Honduras, where his parents were evangelical missionaries. Rachel wasn’t open to the world of racial diversity, but Aaron was familiar with the feeling of being the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid in his hometown. As Rachel grew up and started to go on mission trips, she later decided that she wanted more experience and responsibility.
They first met each other on a blind date in 2004. It was basically love at first sight for the two of them. The lovers shared the same dream of impacting the world through the gospel, as they were both missionaries. From that point on, they knew that the future would hold a wedding and a family. However, they were not in a hurry and continued dating to learn more about each other.
Taking It Slow
They became closer thanks to the missionary trips that they have been going to. Eventually, their relationship progressed into the exclusive category. They shared a special connection as they continued dating, and one thing that made their bond a lot stronger is their mutual want for adopting kids. According to Aaron, during his interview with 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.”
They had no fertility issues, but the two felt that it was the Christian thing to do for them to adopt. Despite being fertile, they were both convicted that one way to be pro-life is by involving themselves in adoption. By the time they started talking about adopting a kid, they knew that they wanted to be with each other for the rest of their lives. Leading Aaron to finally propose to her, to which she said “yes.” Their wedding day was soon to follow.
Many people have difficulties looking for that one person in their life and would usually spend most of their adult years looking for a partner. But this wasn’t the case for Aaron and Rachel as they shared an instant connection. They got married in 2006, and after they were married, they both wanted to have kids but decided to wait a bit. They really wanted to become parents, but they were fully aware that their work as missionaries would make it a bit difficult.
Not long after they got married, the couple was offered a trip to Honduras. They joined the mission and traveled to Honduras in the same year. They went to Aaron’s hometown, which is why Rachel was excited about the trip. The two of them acted as teachers in the nearby town called “Tegucigalpa.” Although this isn’t the ideal honeymoon for most of us, it was their ideal retreat for the couple. When they arrived, they started noticing a few changes in the region, but.
They had been there for months and were concerned for the community. They were not shy to speak of them. It was apparent that the churches needed to teach the gospel, and the Halberts knew that they had a mission to fulfill there. Sadly, the time came for them to go back home even though they wanted to stay. As they returned to Mississippi, being happy with what they had accomplished, they never forgot about the community there. At home, a huge change was waiting for them.
As they settled into their regular activities and lives, Aaron had something else in mind. Aaron had always dreamt of receiving a pastoral degree by getting a Master of Divinity, which he did! He studied at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. Throughout this time, the Halberts wanted to return to Honduras. After a few years, they thought of having their first child but first decided if they should adopt or conceive.
The couple also wanted to serve their own community in Mississippi, but they felt that there was always more to be done as missionaries. In Yazoo City, Aaron worked at the Second Presbyterian as an intern and youth director. During this time, the couple began to lean more on adoption. According to Aaron, “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 pair have thought of going to Honduras for a while. They knew what the community there needs. As the couple returned on a mission with the Presbyterian Church of America, they started to favor the idea of attempting to conceive a child naturally, but they still visited an adoption agency. They went to an agency in Mississippi for the day and educated themselves. They were truly ready to start a family of their own.
After visiting the adoption agency, they knew that this was the right thing for them to do. They knew that it was difficult for orphans to find homes, especially for those who are non-Caucasians. The pair wanted to adopt any child except a Caucasian one, as they believed that if they wanted a Caucasian kid, 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 immediately found a match for the Halberts. They certainly made the right call as they immediately fell in love with the two kids- a baby boy and a girl of African American descent, which is why they decided to adopt two kids. They adopted Ford and Catherine with open and welcoming arms. They were ecstatic about their family, but they knew that they would have challenges as a multi-racial family. Regardless of the concern, they had faith that they could overcome anything.
The Halberts found themselves having talks about having more kids. Of course, as new parents, they were a bit busy, which is why it may not have been the right time for them. However, a friend of theirs told them about embryo adoption and suggested that they check it out. The couple did their research and educated themselves on the topic as it was the first time they heard of it.
In the coming weeks, they would learn more about the topic. “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.” Aaron explained. This means many embryos are wasted, this method allows people to adopt and use these embryos, and the Halberts were attracted to the idea.
The pair felt obligated to use this method after they completed their research. This method would mean that Rachel would carry the babies to term and go through pregnancy. Their beliefs were the reason they went with this decision. “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,” Aaron stated. The couple had made their decision and approached the National Embryo Donation Center to start the process.
Rachel was excited to start the process. Obviously, she felt a bit nervous and scared. To prepare her body for the embryo conception, Rachel would have to go through various treatments. Everything went well, and when September of 2015 came around, she was more than ready to begin the process of in-vitro fertilization. They only needed to be patient and see what was in store. This process of adoption is a difficult one.
They had to pass through some challenges and needed fate and luck to be on their side during this time. Before the actual operation would occur, there would be a process that would involve hormone treatments that would go on for months. Regardless, this still meant that the woman would only have a 10% chance actually to have an embryo to take form. Another factor would be the high cost of $10,000 to $15,000!
The Halberts were going through all this as they were preparing to return to Honduras for their missionary work. They were waiting to find out if the implantation was a success. Along with their little ones, the family hopped on a plane to Honduras with no time to spare. They went to a local hospital six weeks post-implantation 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 was confused and was taken aback with the appointment as something wasn’t adding up. He was familiar with in-vitro fertilization, so he asked the couple if only two embryos were implanted. The Halberts were told that the procedure worked, and they were happy. But the doctor had a lot more to say as he had more concerns regarding the number. What could have possibly been the case?
Everything made sense once the Honduran doctor showed the couple their ultrasound. They were surprised to find out that Rachel was pregnant with three babies! Their family was about to have triplets and expand to 7 in no time. Aaron and Rachel saw it as a sign and that everything that had happened was God’s plan. They had both wished for a big family, and it was finally coming true.
The couple was waiting for their babies’ arrival, but Ford and Catherine were even more excited! “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.” Aaron wrote on his Facebook wall.
Rachel gave birth to Anne, Whitley, and Ryley in 2016. While it was not what they initially had in mind, they believed it was way better as they were overjoyed. Aaron said, “Oh, how thankful we are for God blessing us with these sweet little ones He has placed in our care.” Aaron continued, “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.”
The couple was proud to have their children. As 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 how 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 received a lot of support. According to Aaron, “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. 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.”
And with the number of positive reactions towards them, having negative comments on them were inevitable. Aaron said to the Washington Post, “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.”
They Don’t Mind
The Halberts will most likely always have to deal with onlookers as they know that not everyone is fond of diversity. “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.” Aaron said.
Rachel also mentioned, “Embryo adoption can also be challenging for the donor family. I know the decision to donate your frozen embryos for adoption is probably the hardest you’ll ever make. 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.” Rachel feels sympathy for those individuals who give up their children.
While embryo adoption is not viable for most people, it was the perfect choice for the Halberts. The pair received triplets and had the precious experience of pregnancy. According to Rachel, the experience could be described as nothing short of “beautiful and unique” She also expressed her gratitude and amendment to the “brave and selfless” biological parents who donate the embryos.
Embryo adoption and normal adoption are equally important, and they also understood that a lot doesn’t know the former option of people. There are millions of embryos waiting for donors as the embryo they used waited 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
Mothers around the world will agree that they barely have any free time. Imagine having five kids. Rachel mentioned. “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 the hair of four beautiful girls and one handsome little guy, and finding a minute or two to eat some food myself.”
The Halberts had the idea of adoption with an open heart and mind and received immense blessings in return. Rachel wanted to have 4 or 5 kids, but she did not expect it to happen fast. These kids are happy and healthy, and they also have two amazing parents who would teach them good values and instill good morals. There is no doubt that they would grow up to be as compassionate and kind, just like their parents.
Do they still want more kids? At the moment, they are still not so sure, as Rachel said, “We’ll see what the future holds. For now, we are enjoying this phase of life right now.” They definitely have their hands full with five kids. The pair hope that their actions will inspire others to try out embryo adoption. Aaron and Rachel have not given up their missionary goals and are still going on missions.
The family decided to relocate to Tegucigalpa after the triplets were born. Aaron and Rachel work in the capital and give back to the less fortunate. They also have equal responsibility when it comes to taking care of their kids. However, Rachel is now a full-time mom. I mean, we understand why! The Halberts continue to spread the gospel in every way they can.
Their children loved growing up in America and Honduras. This portrait of the Halbert family may not show the traditional look of a family, but their diversity and love for each other could clearly be seen as it shines straight through them. The Halberts have portrayed their humanity through their incredible family story.