Evangelical Christians Aaron and his wife Rachel Halbert had long dreamed of becoming parents. While trying to conceive naturally, they also wanted to adopt a child, as they felt the adoption was a calling from their Christian pro-life beliefs. So the couple went to their local adoption agency. Little did they know that things were about to take an interesting turn.
The couple knew it can be incredibly difficult for non-Caucasian children to find adoptive homes. So, they applied to adopt any child, fully expecting a Caucasian one. They trusted that if God truly wanted them to have a Caucasian child, their application would be denied, and Rachel would instead become pregnant. The couple had no idea how it would all turn out.
The adoption agency found two African-American children, a boy and a girl, for the Halberts. Just one look and the couple fell in love with them. They could not choose one over the other. So they decided to adopt both, naming them Ford and Catherine. However, they had no clue that an even bigger surprise was just around the corner...
Not long after they took Ford and Catherine home, the couple wanted to have more children. However, with two kids keeping them busy, they didn’t know if it was the right time. Then, like a sign, the Halberts came across an old friend, who recommended embryo adoption to them. While they were still hesitant about the extra workload, they felt they should not ignore this sign. So, they decided to do some research on embryo adoption, something they had never heard of before.
After much research, the couple couldn't believe what they had discovered and felt horrible to discover the truth. "We live in a world with hundreds of thousands of embryos frozen in the United States alone. Most who aren't selected by their biological parents are donated to science or destroyed or kept frozen,” Aaron explained, “This means that most of the embryos used for in-vitro fertilization are wasted.” The Halberts felt compelled to rescue the tiny lives through embryo adoption.
In fact, the biggest reason for the couple to pursue embryo adoption was 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 said. With their minds made up, the couple went to the National Embryo Donation Center, a Christian embryo bank.
At the donation center, they happened to find twin embryos. What's more amazing was that the embryos were African-American. The couple decided that it would be perfect since all of their children would be of the same race even if they didn't share the same parents.
Excitedly and nervously, Rachel started the process of embryo adoption. She first received several treatments to prepare her body for the implant. Luckily, they all went well. Then, she went for the in-vitro fertilization operation. Now, all they could do was wait and pray. However, like any other embryo adoption, the odds were against the couple...
As previously mentioned, the in-vitro fertilization starts with months of hormone treatments before the transfer. Even if the treatments are all successful, the mom only has a ten percent chance of accepting an embryo during the actual procedure. Moreover, embryo adoption can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 per attempt, and most insurances don't cover such medical expenses. So, you see, the Halberts had to overcome plenty of challenges during the whole process.
Six weeks after the transfer, the couple made a nervous trip to the hospital. It was time to find out whether the embryos had taken or not. The doctor asked over and over again if Rachel had been implanted with only two embryos. Meanwhile, the couple kept answering yes but also felt a little confused. Then the doctor exclaimed, “The transfer was successful! You are pregnant!” The couple were ecstatic. However, as the doctor showed them the ultrasound screen, they noticed something was not right...
The couple found not two, but three embryos in there! The Halberts couldn't believe their eyes and did a double take. Yes, Rachel was pregnant with triplets! They were so overjoyed! It seemed as though God had a plan for them after all. Meanwhile, they finally understood why the doctor kept checking the number of embryos. The whole family could not wait to meet their new members! Finally, the big day came.
In 2016, Rachel gave birth to three baby girls, Anne, Ryley, and Whitley. While the couple had never planned to bring a family into the world like this, it turned out to be a million times better than they could have imagined. They regarded the triplets along with their other kids as gifts from God. "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 of Heaven," Aaron wrote on Facebook.
Although they didn't share the same DNA or skin color with their five kids, the Halberts were proud to be their parents. Furthermore, they appreciated the beauty of their interracial family. "The beauty of a multi-ethnic family is found there. In fact, the differences are the very thing that makes our life richer and fuller. It forces you to think in a new way about the way you think, speak, act, and live," Aaron said.
"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," Aaron continued, "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." However, not everyone around them felt as supportive...
When news of the special family came out, the couple sadly became the target of a few nasty comments and disapproving looks, from both white and black people. "There will always be the older white woman in Walmart who stared at us with sheer disgust or the African-Ameican mother who looked at us and just shook her head," Aarib said in an interview with the Washington Post. But they also had good experiences. Aaron recalled there was a young black girl and an older white doctor who both responded well to them. But how did the couple react to the strangers?
The Halberts were aware that not everyone would agree with their diversity. However, they were not seeking approval. Instead, the couple saw their differences as a gift. "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," explained Aaron. Besides, they also had something to say about embryo adoption.
The couple believed that embryo adoption was just as important as regular adoption. After doing the research, they knew that millions of embryos were waiting to be adopted. The embryos Rachel received had been frozen for 12 years. Rachel said, "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."
While the couple were happy with their decision to undertake embryo adoption, they admitted that it was not for everyone. The adoptive family had to face a lot of challenges, and so did the donor family. "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. It can be so painful to know that someone else is raising your biological children," explained Rachel.
Any mom would agree that a child is enough to keep you busy, now imagine having five! "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," said the mom.
We can all agree the Halberts are living proof that love makes a family. While the family portraits do not look like traditional ones, you can see the love on everyone's faces. That is what family is really about, right?
You may wonder if Aaron and Rachel will adopt children again after the triplets. "We'll see what the future holds. For now, we're enjoying this phase of life right now," explained Rachel in an interview. As we can imagine, five kids are sure to keep them fully occupied. Well, the couple did hope that more people would help save lives regardless of prejudice.
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