Oftentimes, bringing a baby into the world is described as one of the most spectacular experiences in the whole world. No matter the journey, people truly enjoy the road to becoming parents and bringing a new life into the world. It doesn’t matter how the baby is brought into the world. Aaron and Rachel Halbert’s story will leave you without words… After the couple had twins, something seemed strange. What were they hiding?
Originally, this couple comes from different parts of the world. Aaron was born and raised in Honduras where his parents were evangelical missionaries. Rachel, on the other hand, grew up in Mississippi Delta. Throughout her life, she was exposed to experiences full of racial diversity. Aaron considers himself to have had a similar experience since he was the only blond-haired, blue-eyed person in his hometown. From a young age, Rachel started going on missionary trips. This later led her to the decision to want more responsibility and adventures.
Our story begins with a blind date back in 2004. The two instantly said it was love at first sight. They shared the same dream of changing the world through the gospel, as they both were missionaries. From that point, they understood that their future would include a wedding and a family. However, they weren’t in a rush. They continued dating and learned a lot about each other.
Taking It Slow
While on their missionary trips, the couple became a lot closer. eventually, they established their relationship and became exclusive. They shared a very special bond. This made their connection so strong. Because of this, they decided they wanted to adopt kids together. Aaron said to the Washington Post, “When we were still dating, a mutual bond brought us together which is ultimately why Rachel and I both wanted to adopt.”
The couple felt that the rightful, Christian thing to do was adopt. This was despite the fact that they had no fertility problems. “While we were fertile, we were both truly believed that one of the ways to be procreate was to participate in adoption,” he explained. From then on, they started talking about adoption and knew they wanted to be together for the rest of their lives. At last, Aaron got down on one knee and proposed to Rachel. Naturally, she said yes.
A lot of people tend to have trouble finding their soulmate and spend most of their adult years in search of their lifelong partner. However, this wasn’t the case for Aaron and Rachel. They immediately felt a connection. They got married in 2006 and were very eager to have children. In the end, they decided to wait a little. Despite the fact that they wanted to be parents, they were very involved in missionary work, which was challenging. They knew that the right time would come along soon.
Not too long after the couple got married, they were presented with the opportunity to go back to Honduras. Immediately, they decided to join the mission and later traveled to Honduras that year. Being that this was Aaron’s hometown, Rachel was excited to see where he had grown up. Missionaries acted as teachers in a town right near Tegucigalpa. While this isn’t considered to be the ideal honeymoon destination, the couple made it the perfect retreat. When they arrived, they began noticing some small changes in the region…
After spending just a few months there, the couple was worried about the community and were not afraid to talk about it. It was obvious that the churches needed to be taught the gospel. The Halberts identified their mission quickly and knew that their purpose would be fulfilled there. Unfortunately, their time came to an end and they had to go home. As much as they wanted to stay, they couldn’t. Still, they never forgot about the community. They returned to Mississippi pleased with their accomplishments. Back home, a huge change was awaiting them…
Once they started reestablishing themselves and settling into their lives, Aaron had a new idea. His dream had always been to obtain a Master of Divinity, a pastoral degree. So, he went ahead and did so. He started school at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. During this time, however, the couple was eager to go back to Honduras at some point. A few years passed and the couple started thinking about having their first child. The question was whether they would adopt or conceive.
However, the two also wanted to serve their community in Mississippi as well. As missionaries, they believed there was always more to be done. Aaron worked at the Second Presbyterian in Yazoo City as an intern and a youth director. The couple started leaning towards adoption. While 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.”
For a while, the couple thought about visiting Honduras. They felt connected to their community and knew just what their needs were. Aaron and Rachel went back on a mission with the Presbyterian Church of Americ and also decided to conceive naturally. Although, during this time, they also visited an adoption agency as well. They went to an agency in Mississippi for the day. They were ready to finally start their own family.
After they visited the adoption agency, the couple knew exactly what they wanted to do. They understood how difficult it was for orphans to be placed in good homes – especially for non-caucasian kids. The couple specifically stated that they would adopt any child – except a caucasian one. They believed 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?
In no time, the agency found a match for the Halberts. They were sure they had made the best decision of their lives. The Halberts fell in love with two kids – a baby boy and a girl who were African-American. The decision was easy, and so, the couple decided to adopt both of the children. Ford and Catherine were adopted and welcomed with open arms into their family. Aaron and Rachel were absolutely thrilled. Still, they weren’t unaware of the challenges they would be facing in the future in regards to having a diverse family. No matter what, they had faith they could conquer anything.
Not long after their initial adoption, the couple was already thinking about having more kids. Of course, as new parents, the two were extremely busy and had plenty of responsibilities, so maybe it wasn’t the right timing. All the same, a friend had told them about embryo adoption and told them to look into it, and they saw it as a sign. They researched the matter as it was the first time they had heard about such a thing.
During the upcoming weeks, the two learned as much as they could about the topic. Aaron said, “We live in a world with hundreds of thousands of embryos frozen in the United States alone. Most of those who aren’t chosen by their biological parents but rather donated to science or destroyed or kept frozen.” Meaning that oftentimes, embryos are wasted. This procedure, in turn, allows other people to adopt and use these embryos. As soon as they knew enough about it, the couple was enthusiastic about the idea.
The couple felt compelled to take up this opportunity after they did all their research. The process entailed Rachel carrying the baby full term so she would experience a pregnancy. Their views were the main thing behind their decision. Aaron said, “If Christians – or others – really believe life begins at conception, it follows that we should respond with a willingness to support embryo adoption and even take part in it ourselves.” They made their decision and approached the National Embryo Donation Center to start the process.
Rachel was excited to get the procedure started. Naturally, she was nervous about the treatments she had to do in order to prepare her body for the embryo conception. Luckily, the process went by with no problem. When September 2015 came around, she was ready to start the process of in-vitro fertilization. However, they had to be patient. Something was in store for them. Either way, the adoption process wasn’t an easy one.
They had to overcome a few difficulties on their way to in-vitro fertilization. All they hoped was that fate and luck would be on their side. The process consisted of months of hormone treatments before the actual operation. Taking all these elements into consideration, a woman only has a 10% chance of the embryo actually taking! Another thing to take into account is the cost of the whole process. One attempt can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000!It must have been a stressful time since most insurances don’t cover these costs.
The whole process took place at the same time the couple was planning on going back to Honduras for their missionary work. First, they had to see whether their implantation was a success. With no time to spare, the family boarded a plane to Honduras. Six weeks post-implantation, they went to a local hospital to see if it had been a success. They spoke to a doctor in broken Spanish, doing their best to explain the situation.
The doctor looked puzzled and was surprised at the reason for the appointment. Something wasn’t adding up. He was familiar with in-vitro fertilization. However, the doctor questioned them since he wanted to make sure only two embryos were implanted. The couple was excited to hear that the in-vitro treatment worked. However, there was more to the story. The doctor had more news for them…
When the Honduran doctor showed the couple their ultrasound, everything became clear. Rachel was pregnant – with three babies! Their family was about to become 7 when Rachel gives birth to triplets! Naturally, they were over the moon. Aaron and Rachel saw it as a sign that it was all God’s plan. Their plan of having a big family was coming true at last.
Aaron and Rachel were waiting for the arrival of the babies. Meanwhile, Ford and Catherine were the most excited about their new siblings. Aaron took to Facebook to say, “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. Every evening they say goodnight to those three growing little girls in her belly.” Ford and Catherine couldn’t wait to meet their baby sisters.
Rachel soon gave birth to Anne, Whitley, and Ryley in 2016. Despite the fact that it wasn’t what they had in mind, it turned out to be even better. The couple couldn’t be happier. “Oh, how thankful we are for God blessing us with these sweet little ones that he has placed in our care,” Aaron said. Aaron thought of his kids as the 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.
While the kids might not have been blood-related to them, Aaron and Rachel were still proud to think of them as their children. The couple adored the miraculous idea 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 pushes you to think in a new way about how you think, speak, act, and live. There is something beautiful and inspirational about 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 incredible amount of support. Aaron said, “It’s been heartwarming to see nearly all of our friends and family express a huge amount of support for our family and the unusual ways we’ve built it.” They were also happy to complete 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.
However, not many supported their life choices. “We knew, especially in the South, that a white couple with non-white children would be the center of attention and with many different reactions. There will always be the older white woman in Walmart who stared at us with complete disgust or the African-American mother who looked at us and just shook her head in disbelief,” Aaron said to the Washington Post. All the same, there were many that did, “There was also the young black girl who bawled 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 was likely to have to deal with onlookers who didn’t agree with their life choices. The Halberts knew full-well that not all people are in favor of diversity. Still, they didn’t care about other people’s opinions. 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. Grabbing 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 ridicule.”
“Embryo adoption can also be very complicated for the donor family. I know the decision to donate your frozen embryos for adoption is possibly the hardest you’ll ever make,” Rachel explained. She added that she has sympathy for the people who gave up their kids. She said, “It can be so painful to know that someone else is raising your biological children. Somehow, whether medical or family size or financial or age, you are unable to have any more transfers.”
All the same, embryo adoption isn’t for everyone. However, it was the perfect choice for Aaron and Rachel. They had triplets as well as the priceless experience of the pregnancy. Rachel says this experience was “beautiful and unique”. She also expressed her gratitude for the “brave and selfless” biological parents who donate the embryos.
The couple thinks that embryo adoption and normal adoption are just as important as the other. However, the couple knows that this option isn’t commonly known. All the same, millions of embryos lay waiting for donors. For example, the embryos this 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
Mothers all over the world will agree that they hardly have any free time for themselves. Now, multiply that by five. Things in the Halbert household get a little chaotic and crazy. Nonetheless, Rachel loves watching over the little ones. She said. “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 were very open-minded about the idea of adoption and went into the process with an open heart. In return, they received fantastic blessings. Rachel had hoped that she would have 4 or 5 kids but never thought it would happen so quickly. The kids are all happy and healthy. They have two amazing parents who teach them good values and impart good morals. We’re sure that they’ll grow up to be kind, compassionate, and optimistic people just their parents.
Does the couple want to expand their family further? They can’t answer that question right now. “We’ll see what the future holds. At the moment, we are enjoying this phase of life right now,” said Rachel. They have their hands full with five kids at the moment. The duo hopes to encourage others to consider embryo adoption. Aaron and Rachel haven’t given up on their missionary goals.
After the triplets were born, Aaron and Rachel decided to relocate to Tegucigalpa. They work in the capital and give back to the less fortunate. The two also have equal responsibility in taking care of their five kids. All the same, Rachel is now a full-time mom and we see why! The Halberts still do their best to share the gospel in every way they can.
All 5 kids love growing up in America as well as Honduras. The Halbert family portraits are definitely not traditional, but their love for each other shines as bright as anything.; The Halberts have shown their humanity through their incredible family story.