Regardless of how you welcomed a kid into the family, you can expect to go through a bizarre yet amazing journey. Rachel and Aaron Halbert had an experience like no other, however. They have a set of triplets, but the medical personnel could not help wonder if there was something wrong here.
The couple had very different childhoods. Rachel was raised in the Mississippi Delta and had a normal childhood. Meanwhile, Aaron had evangelical missionaries for parents and was raised in Honduras. She did not know racial diversity very well, but it was something Aaron knew well since he had always been singled out as the blonde and blue-eyed kid. As a young adult, she started to take mission trips to Haiti. She decided to do this because it was how she wanted to more adult responsibilities and experience.
In 2004, Aaron and Rachel went on a blind date with each other. Luckily for them, it was love at first sight! The humble pair had some things in common. They both worked as missionaries and hoped to improve the world with the gospel. It was clear that the future held a wedding and a family for them. Even so, they did not feel the need to rush. They took their time to get to know one another better.
Taking It Slow
They got to know one another better when they attended missionary trips. After some time, they became exclusive and steady! Fun fact, they were brought even closer by a mutual desire of theirs. When Aaron talked to the Washington Post, he said, “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 could conceive, but they felt that it was more Christian for them to adopt. Aaron explained, “While we were fertile, we were both deeply convicted that one of the ways to be pro-life is to involve ourselves in adoption.” This was a serious conversation that meant that they were already planning the future. He eventually asked her to marry him. Needless to say, Rachel told Aaron, “Yes.”
It is not unusual to spend a long time searching for the one. However, Aaron and Rachel had been lucky enough to meet each other when they were still young. In 2006, the couple walked down the aisle and exchanged vows. They both wanted children but knew that it was not the right time just yet. While they were thrilled at the prospect of becoming parents, it was hard to dive into it with their work.
Aaron and Rachel were offered to go to Honduras soon after the wedding. They accepted it and later flew to the place where Aaron grew up. He was excited to return, but Rachel also felt nervous about it. At any rate, she was eager to check out his hometown. Missionaries worked as English teachers at a place outside Tegucigalpa, the capital. Even though this sounds like a strange honeymoon, this worked for them. When they got to the town, they took note of a number of deficiencies in the area…
Rachel and Aaron were in Honduras for a couple of months and got to know the community pretty well. They found out that the churches there had to spread the gospel. The Halberts wanted to accomplish this mission, but the time came for them to come back to the United States. While they would have liked to stay there, they had different plans. Luckily, they did not plan to forget about this place. They flew to Mississippi feeling happy with the work that they did after the mission came to an end.
They returned to their previous lives, but Aaron had something else in mind. It had always been his goal to receive a Master of Divinity, which is the first pastoral degree that the United States has to offer. He went to the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. However, they both dreamt about going to Honduras all the time. After a couple of years, they started to consider finally having a kid!
The couple wanted to continue serving the community in Mississippi. As missionaries, it felt like their work never ends. Rachel was a teacher at the local school, while he was a youth director and intern at the Second Presbyterian in Yazoo City. They began to look at their options at that point. Aaron said this when he talked to the Washington Post: “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.”
Not only that, but Aaron and Rachel wanted to go back to Honduras. He spent his childhood there, and they knew that the community needed help. This was the reason they embarked on a mission with the Presbyterian Church of America. They attempted to conceive too but went to a Mississippi adoption agency. It felt like the right time for them to start a family. But what happened when they went there?
When they went to the adoption agency, the couple could tell that they wanted to go ahead with it. They learned that it was difficult for non-Caucasian children to be adopted into good homes. This was the reason the couple wanted any kid that was not fully white. Should they be rejected, they believed that it would be God’s way of telling them to 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,” Aaron said.
It did not take a long time before the agency found children for the Halberts. The couple knew that this was the right decision. In the end, they were choosing between an African-American girl and boy. It was difficult for them to pick just one, so they adopted both Ford and Catherine. By doing this, it meant that the family was going to be a racially diverse one. Even then, they knew that there would be setbacks along the way. We are glad that they were more than determined to face them no matter what!
When they adopted the kids, Rachel and Aaron wanted to talk about another thing. The couple did not feel happy with only two kids at home! At the time, they were busy looking after the babies and had to put this off. Things got interesting when one of their friends suggested embryo adoption. Before that, they were not aware that something like this exists. They made sure to do their research on this matter.
Aaron and Rachel worked hard to learn as much as possible about embryo adoption. The research revealed some shocking things. “We live in a world with hundreds of thousands of embryos frozen in the United States alone,” he explained, “Most who aren’t selected by their biological parents are donated to science or destroyed or kept frozen.” Yes, it meant that plenty of embryos are wasted. In order to prevent this terrible fate, it is possible for others to adopt and implant the embryos. To the couple, this sounded like an excellent idea.
By the end of the research, Aaron and Rachel knew that this was the path to take. This way, she would be able to have the kids herself. On top of that, this also suited the beliefs that they shared. Aaron shared, “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.” When they arrived at a decision, the couple started the process by going to the National Embryo Donation Center.
At the time, Rachel could not contain her excitement. Even so, she felt fearful and nervous as well. There were many treatments that she needed to undergo before they could start the embryo adoption process. In the end, it went without a hitch. In September 2015, it was time for the process to begin. At that point, there was not much for the couple to do but to hope that it was going to be successful.
There were many things that they had to go through before they could actually start the process. For one thing, Rachel needed to take hormone treatments before they could start the operation. Luck played a big part in it as well. You see, there is only a 10% chance that the embryo would take. On top of that, it is also very expensive. Can you believe that they had to shell out $10,000 to $15,000 for each attempt? Not only that, but most insurances do not normally cover this operation as well.
What made things even more complicated was that they had been planning to go to Honduras for more missionary work. In those days, the verdict was still out on whether the implantation went well. At any rate, the couple and the children boarded a plane to the Central American country. Six weeks after they implanted the embryo, Rachel had to go to a local hospital to find out the answer to this pressing question. Over there, they spoke to a doctor in Spanish and attempted to explain the situation at hand.
At the appointment, there was some confusion. In-vitro fertilization was nothing new to the doctor, but something simply did not add up. Rachel and Aaron were asked if they were sure that they only used two embryos. The doctor told them that the embryos took, which made the couple feel thrilled. But this was not the only news that he had for them. Why was he asking so much about the number anyway?
Everything clicked when the doctor made the ultrasound face the couple. There were three fetuses growing in Rachel’s womb. Yes, it meant that they had triplets on the way. While they felt happy about this development, it still came as a shock. The couple took it to mean that this was all part of the plan that God had for them. They always wanted to have a big family, and their wish was about to come true!
The couple had been counting down the days before the triplets got there, but the older kids felt even more impatient! Aaron said this in his post: “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.” We can’t enough of the fact that Catherine and Ford were so excited to meet their new set of siblings.
At long last, the Halbert family finally welcomed Whitley, Anne, and Ryley into the world in 2016. Even though their original plans had been different, this new development did not bother them at all. In fact, they could not help but feel blessed. “Oh, how thankful we are for God blessing us with these sweet little ones He has placed in our care,” said Aaron. He considers all of the children as blessings. This loving father also shared, “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.”
Even though they were not related to each other by blood, the couple is more than happy to call the kids their son and daughters. They feel happy to be a part of an interracial family too. “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,” Aaron shared, “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 good news is that many people out there support them. Aaron shared, “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.” There was nothing more they could ask for in life. He explained, “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.”
Sadly, there are others who do not approve of their decisions. “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,” he said during an interview with the Washington Post. “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 feel sad to hear that there are people who give them disapproving looks. The Halbert family is aware that not everyone is a fan of diversity. On the bright side, those were not the sort of people that they cared about. “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,” shared Aaron.
Rachel shared, “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.” Aside from that, she has sympathy for parents who needed to put their kids up for adoption. “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.”
You should know that embryo adoption is not the best choice for everyone. However, it was the perfect choice for Aaron and Rachel. She was able to have a “beautiful and unique” experience thanks to the process. She has also expressed her gratitude for all the “brave and selfless” embryo donors out there.
The couple wants everyone to start considering embryo adoption. Sadly, it does not look like a lot of people know that it is even a thing. There are actually so many frozen embryos out there! The ones they used had been there for a dozen 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,” said Rachel.
Mother Of Five
You should be ready to give up so much of your free time if you ever become a parent. We are sure that it gets crazy with five children in the household. Rachel, luckily, enjoys taking care of them. “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,” she shared.
When the Halbert couple adopted the children, they did this with their hearts open. Even though Rachel always dreamt of having four or five children, it was not her plan to have them all within such a short time! Even if this is the case, the kids are all happy with them. We have no doubts that the parents are going to instill good values in them. They will likely grow up to be kind and compassionate individuals.
Do Rachel and Aaron want more children? They are not sure yet. Rachel shared, “We’ll see what the future holds. For now, we are enjoying this phase of life right now.” After all, we can’t imagine how tough it must be to take care of five kids. We just hope that the story will have people looking into embryo adoption. Can you believe that they are still doing missionary work even with their hands full?
After they had the triplets, the Halbert family moved to Tegucigalpa. Aaron and Rachel make sure to help out people in need over there as well. This is something that they still do even though they have now five kids to raise. Rachel also became a full-time mom to look after all of their kids, and this is perfectly understandable. We are impressed that the couple still spreads the gospel even up to this day!
In Tegucigalpa, Aaron and Rachel have not neglected their missionary work. Their five kids think that it is nice to grow up in Honduras and the United States. It is true that this is not a conventional family, but the important thing is that there is love between them. We are so impressed that the couple always practices what they preach. They must be some of the kindest people on the planet!