As the saying goes, “the littlest feet make the biggest footprints in our hearts”. Bringing a baby into the world is often said to be one of the most outstanding experiences ever. The journey to becoming parents doesn’t always matter, what truly matters is the enjoyment of creating and bringing life into our universe. The recent story of Aaron and Rachel Halbert’s recent will leave you lost for words….after the couple had twins some things were simply not adding up. What exactly were the missing puzzle pieces?
Before the lovely couple knew each other, they both in different countries. Rachel was raised in Mississippi Delta, during her life she experienced many situations that were inter-racial. While Aaron was born and raised in Honduras where his parents were evangelical missionaries. Aaron believed to have had very similar experiences to Rachel because when growing up, he was the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed in his hometown. Rachel was exposed to missionary trips from an early age, she beloves this led her to the decision of wanting to fulfill more responsibility and voyages.
How it all began was back in 2004 on a blind date. It was like love at first sight for them. They instantly discovered that the two shared the same dream of wanting to change the world through the gospel, as they were both missionaries. It was from that moment forward that they understood their near future would see a wedding and a big family. But they were in no hurry, so they learned a lot about each other while they continued to date.
Taking It Slow
Over time the twosome became much closer and eventually decided that their relationship was “exclusive”. They had a very special bond, which made their relationship so strong. They both came to a mutual conclusion that they both wanted to adopt children. Aaron explained to the Washington Post, “When we were still dating, a great bond brought us together which is eventually why Rachel and I both wanted to adopt.”
The couple felt that the genuine, Christian thing to do was to adopt, even though they had no fertility difficulties. “While we were fertile, we both definitely trusted that one of the ways to be procreate was to go through with an adoption,” he said. It was from then that they began speaking about adoption and they instantly knew that they wanted to be together for the rest of their lives. So, Aaron finally popped the big question and proposed to Rachel. Naturally, she said “yes.” Their wedding day was something they couldn’t wait to plan.
Nowadays many individuals have a hard time finding their life long partners and often spend many years searching for their one true love. But this is not what happened with Aaron and Rachel, they instantly shared a beautiful connection. The couple tied the knot in 2006 and were very excited to start a family, but after much deliberation, they decided to wait sometime. However badly they wanted to be parents they knew they were too involved in their missionary work which made things moderately challenging. Thye knew that the right time would come soon.
Soon after the duo wed, they were offered an opportunity to travel to Honduras. Right away, they decided to participate in the mission where they would travel to Aaron’s hometown. Rachel was elated to see where he grew up. Missionaries also act as teachers in a town just next to Tegucigalpa. So in reality this may not be the perfect honeymoon spot but the couple made it an amazing retreat. After they arrive they Upon arrival, they started to see many minor changes within the area.
Once the couple had been there for several months, they were very concerned about the community but they knew they needed to act fast. It was clear that the churches needed to be educated on the gospel. The Halberts established their goals and knew their mission would definitely be accomplished there. Unfortunately, their time came to an end and they needed to return home. After returning back to America they had promised to never forget about the community despite being so pleased with their achievements. They didn’t expect to see what massive change was waiting for them…
When they finally got their lives back in order in the USA, Aaron’s ideas seemed to be different. His lifelong goal had always been to graduate with a Master of Divinity -pastoral degree. He wasted no time and followed his dream, he started studying at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. But still, the couple kept thinking of returning to Honduras. A couple of years later the couple started re-considering starting their family. But the big question was if they should adopt or conceive naturally?
Although they were so happy in Honduras they were always glad to serve their own community back in Mississipi. As missionaries they had faith that their job was never complete, there were always things they needed to be done. Aaron worked at the Second Presbyterian in Yazoo City, he was an intern and youth director there. The pair began to highly consider adoption. When being interviewed by the Washington Post Aaron said, “We see the protection of children not as charity, nor as part of a political scheme, but as something near to the heart of God.”
For a while, the pair considered traveling back to Honduras, as they were so connected to the community and knew exactly what their requirements were. Aaron and Rachel returned on a mission with the Presbyterian Church of America and made the decision to try to conceive naturally, but they still visited an adoption agency as well. They arrived at an agency in Mississippi for the day and received a lot of information which is what led them to fully acknowledge that they were ready to start a family of their own.
After they left the adoption agency they instantly knew this was the route they wanted to go down. They autonomically understood that their journey ahead was not going to be an easy one, especially because it was hard for orphans to be placed in good homes and event more challenging for non-Caucasians. The couple said that they would adopt any child beside a caucasian one. They trusted that if God wanted them to have a caucasian child Rachel would conceive, “We did this with the strongly held assurance that if the Lord wanted us to have a Caucasian child my wife would conceive naturally.” So what happened to the Halberts next?
It was sooner than they expected, the Halberts received the good news that the agency was able to find a match for them. They were so sure that they had made the best decision. The Halberts not only fell in love with one baby but two beautiful children. A baby boy and a girl that were of African-American descent. It was a simple decision when it came to adopting both babies. Ford and Catherine were adopted and eagerly accepted into their family. Aaron and Rachel were ecstatic about their new arrival but were definitely prepared for the concerns they would potentially face with regards to having a multi-racial family. Regardless of their worries, they trusted that they could truly get through anything.
Soon after their first adoptions, the couple began discussing having more kids. Needless to say, as new parents, they were very busy and tons of new responsibilities, so maybe it wasn’t really good timing. Nevertheless, a friend of theirs told them about embryo adoption and recommend that they perhaps look into it, they immediately saw this as a sign. Straight away they go to work on getting all of the necessary information about the matter. They did extensive research as they had never heard about this subject before.
Within the next few weeks, they learned a lot and got their hands on as much information as they could concerning this “new” process. Aaron explained, “We live in a world with hundreds of thousands of embryos frozen in the United States alone. Most of those who aren’t selected by their biological parents but rather donated to science or destroyed or kept frozen.” This implies that often embryos are wasted, this procedure, in turn, lets other people adopt and use these embryos. The couple was instantly enthralled by this idea.
The couple knew that this would be their next venture in life, especially after they had completed all the necessary research. The process would mean that Rachel would carry the baby full term and she would fully experience a pregnancy. The couple’s outlook on the matter was untimely what helped their decision. Aaron also said, “If Christians – or others – truly 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.” The pair had made their decision and approached the National Embryo Donation Center to start their journey.
Rachel was delighted to get the procedure started. But of course, she was nervous and somewhat scared because she was about to first go through various treatments to prepare her body for the embryo conception. Luckily everything went well. In 2015, around about September Rachel was set to start the initial stages of in-vitro fertilization. However, they needed to be patient as what was about to come their way would no doubt surprise them. No matter what, an adoption process is not always simple.
In the beginning, they went through some struggles with in-Vitro fertilization. But they continued to pray that luck and fate would eternally be on their side. The process included many months of hormone treatments before the actual operation. Taking into account all the factors related to IVF, women simply have a 10% chance of the embryo actually taking. Another factor that needs to be considered is the expenses and often times the hefty cost, a single attempt can cost roughly $10,000 to $15,000! We can only imagine how stressful this could have been for Rachel & Aaron as numerous insurances do not cover these costs.
The whole process was going on at the same time the couple was discussing returning to Honduras for their missionary work. They couldn’t make any drastic decisions until they knew whether or not the implantation was a success. With no time to waste, the whole family eventually decided to board a plane to Honduras. Six weeks post-implantation they arrived at a local hospital to try and see if all was successful. They were able to speak to a doctor and did their best to explain their situation.
The doctor looked quite perplexed and was quite shocked as to why they were there. It seemed as though he wasn’t exactly understanding their situation and what in-vitro fertilization was. He also questioned them about the number of embryos that were implanted. Rachel and Aaron were so relieved and of course over the moon to that, the in-vitro treatment worked. But the doctor’s appointment didn’t end there….he had more news for the family…
As soon as the Honduran doctor showed the couple Rachel’s ultrasound, everything became crystal clear. Rachel was definitely pregnant but… with three babies! The Halberts were about to expand from a family of 4 to a family of 7, very soon! Rachel was pregnant with triplets! Naturally, they were ecstatic but they were also definitely flabbergasted. Aaron and Rachel saw it as a sign and that it was all God’s plan. Their idea of having a big family was finally becoming a reality.
Aaron and Rachel were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their triplets, but in actual fact, it was Ford and Catherine who were the ones that seemed the more delighted. Aaron took to Facebook and posted the following, “I felt sheer excitement during Rachel’s pregnancy watching my son and daughter, with their dark brown skin and her with the ringlet hair and slightly tan skin, kiss my white wife’s growing belly. Every evening they would say goodnight to the three growing little girls in her belly.” Ford and Catherine were thrilled and couldn’t wait to meet their baby sisters.
In 2016, Rachel gave birth to Anne, Whitley, and Ryley. Besides the fact it was definitely not what they originally planned, for them it was the best thing that could’ve ever happened. The couple was on cloud nine! “Oh, how thankful we are for God blessing us with these sweet little ones that he has placed in our care,” Aaron said. Aaron considered each of his kids as the biggest blessings in life. “As I look at my growing family, and often think that our family picture is a little glimpse of Heaven,” he further said.
Aaron and Rachel may not exactly be related to their children by blood, but nevertheless, Aaron and Rachel are beyond proud and will always see all five children as their own. The couple has always loved the beautiful idea of an interracial family. Aaron explained, “The beauty of a multi-ethnic family is found here, in the fact that the differences are the very thing that makes ours richer and fuller. It makes you think so differently with the way you think, speak, act, and live. There is so magnificent and inspirational about being the only white face sitting and making conversation with some of my African-American friends as my son gets his hair cut on a Saturday morning.”
The family had an enormous amount of support. Aaron explained, “It’s been amazing to see so many of our friends and family show a huge amount of support for our family especially from the unique way we chose to build it.” They felt so much joy that they had completed another mission they had set out to do! “In our minds, we are just experiencing our real-life dream. A dream that may not look like the average family, but a family that is so grateful that it could come true in light of our country’s history,” said Aaron.
However many people did not support their life choices, “We knew that specifically in the South, that a white couple with non-white children would be what people would discuss around their dinner table and there would be many different reactions. There will always be the older white woman in Walmart who give us the evil eye or the African-American mother who looked at us and just shook her head in disgust,” Aaron described to the Washington Post. There were many that did, “There was also the young black girl who burst into tears after we told her this little boy with her skin color was our son, and the older white doctor who warmly prayed over him and held him so lovingly,” he said.
They Don’t Mind
The Halberts’ are very much aware that they will frequently encounter outsiders who do not agree with their life choices. Rachel and Aaron knew that not all people love the idea of diversity. But, in all honestly, they don’t really take note of other people’s opinions. Aaron explained “One of the central themes of Christianity is, after all, that God, through His Son, is calling people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. Seizing diversity will make the world stronger as we are in awe God’s creative genius on display through His people’s diverse pigments, personalities, and proficiencies. Our differences are what calls for celebration, not sadness.”
“Embryo adoption can also be very complex for the donor family. I know the decision to donate your frozen embryos for adoption is probably the most difficult one could make,” Rachel said, She has so much compassion 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 whatever the reason is, whether medical or family size or financial or age, you are unable to have any more transfers.”
Although, embryo adoption is definitely not for everyone it was the perfect choice for Aaron and Rachel. The couple not only got triplets but also the invaluable experience of pregnancy. Rachel describes the experience as “wonderful and unique.” She also showed a lot of gratitude to the “brave and selfless” biological parents who donate the embryos.
The couple firmly believes that embryo adoption and normal adoption are similarly important. But the couple is mindful that this option is not generally known to many people today. Nevertheless, millions of embryos lay waiting for donors. For instance, 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 around the world. No, they are not any more superior, but they are no less important either. All of our children’s lives are valued,” Rachel clarified.
Mother Of Five
Moms all over the globe will admit that after having children, they rarely have any free time for themselves. Now, imagine that multiplied by five. Things in the Halbert household can sometimes get a bit wild and chaotic but never the less Rachel admires the fact that she can watch over the little ones’. She said, “I would picture my life as mom looks a whole lot like the life of any mom. My days are packed with feeding five hungry kiddos, changing countless diapers, tending to household chores, entertaining little hearts, loving and playing with all five, 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 outlook on the idea of adoption was nothing more than unbiased, and they naturally went into the process with an open heart. They received terrific blessings in return. Rachel had dreamed she would have 4 or 5 kids but she never thought it would really happen so quickly. Their children are happy and healthy, they have two amazing parents who teach them great values and impart good ethics. We are sure that they will grow up to have a lot of kindness, tolerance, and optimism just like their mom and dad.
So the big questions that many are asking Rachel and Aaron….are they planning to expand their family further? Well, they can’t answer that question right now. “We’ll see what the future has in store for us, but for the meantime, we are enjoying this period of our lives right now,” said Rachel. They no doubt have their hands full with five kids. The couple hopes to encourage other individuals to look into embryo adoption. Aaron and Rachel have not given up their missionary goals either.
Following the birth of the triplets, Aaron and Rachel eventually decided to relocate back to Tegucigalpa. Thye both worked in the capital while also giving back to the less fortunate. The amazing couple also takes equal responsibility when it comes to looking after their five gorgeous children. Rachel is now a full-time mom, and we can certainly see how so! he Halberts remain to share the gospel any way they can.
All 5 children enjoy growing up both in Honduras and America. The Halbert family portraits are certainly not conventional but the beautiful way in which they express their uniqueness and love for one another stands out in such an amazing way. The Halberts have shown a huge amount of compassion for the human race through their incredible story.