Missionary couple Aaron and Rachel have a big and happy family with five children now, but when they talk about how she got pregnant and what they've been through, they still feel shocked and amazed. Here is their story.
Aaron was raised in Honduras in an evangelical family, whereas Rachel was born in the Mississippi Delta. It seemed the pair came from two different worlds, but love would bring them together and their paths were destined to cross.
The couple met back in 2004 on a blind date, and they fell in love from the moment they saw each other. At that time, the pair were both missionaries and dreamed of changing the world through the gospel. Although they wanted a wedding and a family in the future, they decided to take things slow and know more about each other.
The pair began taking missionary trips together and became closer and closer. Finally, a common bond led them to marriage. 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." The couple had no fertility issues but believed "one of the ways to be pro-life is to involve ourselves in adoption".
As soon as they began to speak about adoption they knew that they wanted to be with one another for the rest of their lives. So Aaron proposed and of course she said "yes!" Once married, the couple were eager to have children, but something got in the way.
Not long after the two tied the knot, they joined a mission to Honduras, Aaron's home country. Although this was not an ideal honeymoon, the couple thought they had a purpose to fulfill there, and Rachel was excited to see where her husband had grown up.
After spending some time in Honduras, the couple really loved the place. They cared about the community and they wanted to do more. However, it was their time to return home. Little did they know a huge change awaited them in their Mississippi home.
After settling back in Mississippi, Aaron decided to pursue his lifelong dream of getting a Master of Divinity. So he went to the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. While longing to return to Honduras the whole time, the couple began to think about having a child, and whether they should adopt or conceive.
As missionaries, Aaron and Rachel were always ready to serve the local community. Aaron was an intern and youth director at the Second Presbyterian in Yazoo City. During these years, the pair learned more about adoption, and as Aaron told 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."
Aaron and Rachel visited an adoption agency to educate themselves about the adoption process, and the minute they walked into the agency, they knew they'd made the right choice. Moreover, they wanted to adopt a non-caucasian baby because it was tough for such orphans to find homes, and the missionary couple believed "if the Lord wanted us to have a fully Caucasian child, my wife would conceive naturally."
The agency soon found a perfect match for the couple - a baby boy and a girl that were of African-American descent. Aaron and Rachel were excited to welcome the two angels — Ford and Catherine into their home, but as a multi-racial family, they had to conquer difficulties they never expected back then.
Caring for the two babies was not easy, but the couple loved the smiles on their faces. And soon after they found that two babies were not enough for them. Soon they discussed having more children. At this time, they heard about embryo adoption from a friend. As devoted Christians, they thought it was a sign that they should consider this method.
After doing some research on embryo adoption, the couple felt obligated to utilize the method. Their beliefs were the backbone behind their decision. Aaron explained, "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."
Embryo adoption was not easy. Rachel needed to receive months of hormone treatments before the actual operation. Even so, the woman only has a 10% chance of the embryo actually taking. Moreover, the cost of a single attempt was between $10,000 to $15,000. Despite all these obstacles, Aaron and Rachel were determined to complete the process. However, little did they know that even more difficult situations awaited them in the near future.
While preparing for the embryo procedure, the couple never forgot the people in Honduras. So after the implantation, they went on a missionary trip with their two little ones. They checked in with a local hospital to see if they took or not once arriving there. After talking to the doctor in broken Spanish, Aaron and Rachel received the most unexpected yet exciting news…
After careful examination, the doctor looked confused and taken aback. He was very familiar with in-vitro fertilization, but he couldn't believe what he saw. He checked with the couple to make sure that only two embryos had been implanted. Finally, the couple were told that the in-vitro had worked, but what they heard next was jaw-dropping…
Everything made sense when the couple saw the ultrasound pic. Rachel was, to everyone's surprise, pregnant with three babies! The whole family was shocked but excited. Aaron and Rachel always wanted a big family. They thought it was all in God's plan. Everything seemed to be perfect, but having a total of five children would be hard for every family. Would the couple be able to handle everything?
Unlike most children who might be reluctant to share their parents with new brothers or sisters, Ford and Catherine were even more ecstatic than their parents. Aaron wrote on Facebook, "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."
In 2016, Rachel gave birth to three sweet little girls - Anne, Whitley, and Ryley. Although the couple hadn’t expected this at the beginning, they thought the babies were their biggest blessing. "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," Aaron wrote.
Since the children were born, the family have received an outpouring of support. Aaron revealed, "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." But there were people who had different opinions.
As Aaron explained to the Washington Post, "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." But the family didn't mind. "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," Aaron said.
Embryo adoption is still a lesser known procedure and may not work for the majority. But Aaron and Rachel felt their experience was "beautiful and unique". She also expressed her gratitude and amendment to the "brave and selfless" biological parents who donated the embryos.
Aaron and Rachel have opened their hearts to their adoptive children and they received incredible blessings in return. The kids are happy and healthy, and they have great parents to teach them good values and morals. We have no doubt that this big family will live a happy life in the future.
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