It does not matter how your child entered the world. Every parent still goes through a weird but lovely journey! The Halbert couple had a rather strange story, however. They are the parents to triplets, but there was something about the children that had the medical staff confused.
Aaron and Rachel Halbert hail from different parts of the world. She grew up in the Mississippi Delta and had a normal childhood. On the other hand, he was raised by his evangelical missionary parents in Honduras. She was not used to racial diversity, while he was familiar with it as the sole blonde, blue-eyed kid in town. When she was a young adult, she decided to attend a mission trip to Haiti. Later on, she started to set goals in the hopes that this will give her more experience in life!
Aaron and Rachel got to know each other when they went on a blind date in 2004. Apparently, it was more or less love at first sight! They were humble and planned to turn the world into a better place via the gospel. They were both missionaries as well. Both of them wanted to have a wedding and then a family. Despite this, they were in no rush. They continued to date and get to know each other better.
Taking It Slow
When they went on missionary trips, they got to know each other better. The relationship eventually turned steady and exclusive. The couple continued to see each other but something unique helped them get even closer. 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.”
They had no problems with conception. They simply believe that it was more Christian to do it this way. He said, “While we were fertile, we were both deeply convicted that one of the ways to be pro-life is to involve ourselves in adoption.” When they started to talk about this, they were ready to stay together for the rest of their lives. He eventually popped her the question. Of course, she told him, “Yes.”
So many adults spend years looking for the right person. Things were different for the couple. It was a good thing that they found the right person to be with early in life. In 2006, Aaron and Rachel officially became man and wife. They could have gotten kids right away but wanted to wait. Even though they could not wait to be parents, their jobs made it hard to jump into the next stage right away.
After they got married, they soon received an offer to return to Honduras. They took on the mission and went to his hometown within the year. This was both exciting and nerve-wracking for Rachel. She was thrilled to see the place where her husband grew up. The missionaries taught English at a school right outside Tegucigalpa. This is probably not what you envisioned as a honeymoon, but it was more than perfect for the two of them. However, they noticed a number of deficiencies when they arrived there.
They spent several months there and felt concerned about the needs of this community. They knew that the churches had to teach the gospel! The Halbert couple knew that this was a mission that they needed to accomplish. Sadly, they had to go home even though they really wanted to stay put in the town. But don’t worry, there was no way that they were going to forget about this community. When they were done with the mission, they returned to Mississippi and felt satisfied with their work in Honduras.
They were able to settle into the lives they used to live. Aaron, however, had a dream. It was always his dream to finish a Master of Divinity, the first pastoral degree in the United States. He started attending classes at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. They always dreamt about going back to Honduras, however. A few years later, the couple started to seriously think about having a child.
At the time, the couple had still been serving in their part of Mississippi. Since they were missionaries, it felt like they had an endless amount of work to do. She was a teacher at a local school, while he was an intern and youth director at the Yazoo City Second Presbyterian. This was when they started to think about adoption again. “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,” explained Aaron when he talked to the Washington Post.
Aside from this, they also thought about going back to Honduras. It was his hometown, and both of them knew what the community needed. They went on a mission hosted by the Presbyterian Church of America. They considered conceiving naturally but went to an adoption agency as well. The couple felt ready to start a family and hoped to do so with a child in need. They learned many things from the visit.
After they dropped by the adoption agency, they knew that this was the right thing for them to do. They were aware that non-white children had a harder time finding good homes. They said that they were willing to adopt any child as long as they were not fully white. If they were denied, they would take it as a sign that God wanted them to have a kid of their own. Aaron shared, “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.”
The agency did not have a hard time finding them kids. The Halberts felt more confident about their decision. They found two children, a girl and a boy of African-American descent. It was hard for the couple to choose, so they took both of them in! When they adopted Catherine and Ford, they knew that race was going to be a big part of the family. They also wondered about the challenges that would inevitably come with being a family that was racially diverse. However, they knew that it was going to be fine!
After the adoption, there was another discussion that they needed to have. They both wanted more children! The new parents were busy with the new kids, so it was not the right time just yet. When a friend told them to try embryo adoption, they took this to be a sign. Of course, they had to do research on this interesting suggestion before anything else. It was the first time they have heard of it.
In the weeks after that, they continued to read up on this topic. What they found out from the research shocked them. “We live in a world with hundreds of thousands of embryos frozen in the United States alone,” he said, “Most who aren’t selected by their biological parents are donated to science or destroyed or kept frozen.” It means that most embryos are just wasted in the end. Embryo adoption is great since it lets other people use the embryos via adoption. This process sounded very appealing to Aaron and Rachel.
When they learned about this, they felt the need to go ahead with it. After all, this was going to let Rachel carry out a pregnancy and deliver the children herself! This was also aligned with their beliefs. “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 explained. After making up their minds, they visited the National Embryo Donation Center to begin this process.
Rachel could not help but feel excited to start this process. Despite this, she also felt nervous and scared at the same time. There were various things that she had to do before she could begin the embryo adoption. It all went well. By September 2015, she was prepared for the in-vitro fertilization process. There was nothing else for them to do but to pray that it works out. It was not exactly an easy process.
There are many hurdles that one needs to go through before everything is ready. Despite this, they would not be able to get what the want without some luck. You see, the procedure calls for Rachel to go on hormone treatments for several months before the operation. There was only one in ten chance that the embryo would take. On top of that, it was expensive because every attempt would set them back by $10,000 to $15,000. This process is not covered by most insurances, so it was likely stressful.
They were doing this as they prepared to return to Honduras for their jobs. Back then, they were waiting to see if the operation had been a success. Rachel, Aron, Catherine, and Ford went to Honduras because they had no time to spare. They went to a local hospital around six weeks after the implantation of the embryo. It was time for them to see if the embryos took. In broken Spanish, they tried their best to explain to the doctor what was going on. Let us see what they had to tell her…
The doctor seemed confused during this visit. He was familiar with the concept of in-vitro fertilization, but there was something odd going on. He asked them if they really implanted only two embryos. After saying yes, they were told that the embryos took. Of course, Aaron and Rachel were glad to hear this. However, the doctor delivered a piece of news that shocked them. What exactly was going on here?
The doctor turned the ultrasound screen around so that Aaron and Rachel could see it. They found out exactly what he was going on about. There were three fetuses in her womb! This meant that the family was going to have 7 people in it. Even though they were excited, they were shocked to hear this. For them, it was clearly a sign from God. They wanted a huge family, and they were going to get it.
Aaron and Rachel were excited for the triplets to arrive. How nice is it that Catherine and Ford were even more thrilled than they were? On Facebook, Aaron said, “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.” Their older kids could not wait to meet their sisters. Let us see what happened next!
In 2016, the Halbert family received three new members in the form of Ryley, Anne, and Whitley. It might not exactly be the initial plan, but it was even better. They felt happy to finally be with these little girls. Aaron said, “Oh, how thankful we are for God blessing us with these sweet little ones He has placed in our care.” For him, all of his kids were blessings from God. The loving dad also said, “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.”
They might not have the same blood running in their veins, but Rachel and Aaron are happy to be the parents of these kids. They love having an interracial family as well. “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,” he said, “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.”
We are happy to hear that they have been getting a lot of support. “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,” Aaron said. On top of that, they were happy that their dreams have come true. He went on, “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.”
However, there are also people who do not feel the same way. “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 said when he talked to the Washington Post. He added, “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.”
They Don’t Mind
We are sure that it is hard for them to deal with those strange looks. The Halbert family knows that not everybody appreciates diversity. The good news is that they want nothing to do with these people. “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.
“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,” shared Rachel. On top of that, she feels for the people who had to give up their children. “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.”
Embryo adoption is not going to be a good fit for everyone. It was a good thing that it worked perfectly for this couple! They ended up getting triplets and experienced the miracle of pregnancy as well. Rachel said it was a “beautiful and unique” experience. She also called the embryo donors “brave and selfless.”
The couple believes that embryo adoption should be as important as regular adoption. Not many folks are aware that this option exists, although there are millions of embryos out there. Can you believe that the embryos they used had been stored for 12 years? “We were not saying that those lives are any more important than the lives of the 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.”
Mother Of Five
If you ever have a child of your own, your free time is going to go down significantly. Can you imagine having five kids in the house? It might get busy, but Rachel adores the kids. 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.”
Aaron and Rachel Halbert decided to adopt the kids with open arms. She always wanted to have four or five kids, but she had no clue that they would arrive in her life so soon. Without a doubt, love is what makes any family. The kids, we will have you know, are all happy. Rachel and Aaron are great parents who can teach them great lessons. The kids are going to learn kindness and compassion from them!
Are they planning to have more children? The answer remains to be seen. Rachel said, “We’ll see what the future holds. For now, we are enjoying this phase of life right now.” We bet that it is difficult to raise five kids. Hopefully, this story will have people considering embryo adoption as an option. Even though they have so many children to take care of, the couple continues to do missionary work in Honduras.
The family has since relocated to the capital, Tegucigalpa. Over there, Rachel and Aaron continue to give back to people in need. Yes, they are doing this even when they are already raising five kids together. In the end, Rachel chose to be a full-time mom. We can totally understand why this is the case with all the children in the house. To this day, the Halbert family is spreading the gospel to the best of their ability.
Aaron and Rachel are doing missionary work in Tegucigalpa. The children enjoy growing up in the United States and Honduras. The family might not be a conventional one, but the important thing is that everyone loves one another. This is the true meaning of family. We admire the couple for practicing what they preach as well. We can’t help but feel inspired by this lovely of theirs. More power to them!