After frantically rushing his wife to the hospital, he managed to get her into the maternity ward in time and finally breathed a sigh of relief.
But once the babies were delivered, one thing was very clear to everyone in the room. He was not the father, and something wasn’t adding up.
Aaron and Rachel Halbert met while working as Presbyterian missionaries and fell madly in love. They were soon married and quickly started discussions about raising a family.
They wanted to have children of their own but had difficulties conceiving naturally. Aaron felt terrible that he couldn’t give his new wife the family she deserved. He sucked up the courage and sat Rachel down to start a conversation he never thought they’d be having.
The couple had felt like their lives were going exactly as planned: they met the person they wanted to spend their life with, got married… but now the final piece of the puzzle was painfully missing.
Aaron suggested they consider adopting, but Rachel had always dreamed of having a child of her own. He prayed for the clouds to part on their stormy situation, then suddenly an opportunity came knocking.
The couple was given an opportunity to adopt two children. Desperate to be parents and also keen to do the right thing, Aaron and Rachel went ahead and took in a two-year-old girl and three-year-old boy.
Rachel fell in love with the children, almost as if they had always been hers, but despite what the doctors said, she still wanted to get pregnant.
Aaron and Rachel knew it was a long shot that they would conceive a baby of their own, but they kept trying while they raised their adopted children. They saw several fertility doctors, but the news was always disheartening. Rachel, who grew up in the Mississippi delta, spent some time confiding in friends from home.
Then, one day, Rachel had some news for Aaron. And she really didn’t know how to tell him.
A miracle had happened. Rachel returned from her trip and told Aaron she had something to tell him. She was pregnant.
Aaron was overjoyed. He loved his adopted children dearly, so having a baby together would be something really special. They went to get their first scan, but the doctor had some news that left Aaron blindsided.
The doctor confirmed that Aaron and Rachel were pregnant from an artificial insemination process they had tried weeks before. Similar to their adopted children, Rachel had explicitly opted to use ethnic-minority embryos, because statistically, they are the least likely to be chosen
Aaron grew up with missionary parents in Honduras, where he was a “blue-eyed, cotton-topped white kid who stuck out like a sore thumb,” so an interracial family just made sense to him. But the doctor had something else to tell them.
As Rachel had been inseminated with two embryos – typical with intrauterine insemination to improve the chances of pregnancy – the couple was told that against all odds, they were expecting twins.
The family of four quickly jumped to six overnight, but fate had another twist in store for the couple’s family that they didn’t see coming at all.
Nine months later, while in Honduras, Aaron raced Rachel and the kids to the hospital after contractions signaled the babies were ready to come into the world.
Aaron was there to hold Rachel’s hand the entire time. But when the babies finally arrived, the doctors could tell that Aaron was expecting something quite different.
According to doctors, pregnant mothers with multiple babies usually do not complete a full-term pregnancy. Since she was carrying twins, her husband and family had to keep a watchful eye on her health and safety.
When Rachel’s contractions grew closer together, the doctors decided to perform a C-section so that the babies could be born safely. But nobody had expected this. The doctor’s eyes widened.
Seeing the look on the doctor’s face, Aaron began to panic. Was something wrong? Were the babies okay? Then, the doctor looked up and said two words that sent a chill down his spine.
And when Aaron finally saw the babies with his own eyes, he took a closer look and couldn’t stop crying.
Aaron will remember that day in the hospital for the rest of his life. And he certainly hadn’t planned for this. He looked over at Rachel to monitor her reaction to the doctor’s news.
Rachel and Aaron were expecting twins. They were thinking about the names of their would-be children. However, it became clear that they would need to think of another name…
Aaron was already expecting two African-American babies when his wife went into labor, but he certainly wasn’t expecting three. The doctor cried “it’s triplets!” But how had this even happened?
The doctor questioned the couple, asking them if they were sure that Rachel had only been implanted with two embryos. Aaron’s mouth dropped open. That couldn’t be right, could it?
Although Aaron already considered himself a fully-fledged father to Ford and Catherine, nothing prepared him for the feeling he had inside the operating room.
But when the doctor pulled him aside and began to question him about the embryos they had adopted, he just didn’t know what to think. Something wasn’t adding up. They had adopted two embryos, not three.
It turned out that, unbeknownst to the couple, one of the embryos had split again, making triplets. When the babies were ready, Aaron excitedly held them in his arms.
He couldn’t believe how beautiful his three new children were and that finally, they have the family they’d always dreamed of. But life still had more surprises in store.
Rachel gave birth to Anne, Whitley, and Ryley in 2016. Even though it was not exactly what they had in mind, it turned out to be even better.
As soon as the triplets were born, Rachel and Aaron felt that their family was finally complete. The couple was full of happiness. But they never expected the heartache that soon followed.
Although they didn’t share the same DNA or ethnicity with their five kids, the Halberts were proud to be their parents. They appreciated the beauty of their interracial family.
“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. But did their family support them?
“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 pushes you to think in a new way about how you think, speak, act, and live.”
“There is something beautiful and inspirational about 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,” Aaron explained. But what did others think?
“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.
However, the new parents were surprised when they discovered that not everyone around them would be as supportive as their family and friends…
While Aaron and Rachel couldn’t have been prouder of their multi-ethnic family, some people had made a point of showing them what they thought.
“A black mother looked at us and just shook her head,” recalled Aaron. “And an elderly white woman looked at us with disgust.” But it would take more than that to get the Halbert family down.
“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 in an interview with the Washington Post.
“We knew, especially in the South, that a white couple with non-white children would be the center of attention and with many different reactions,” Aaron explained. But, thankfully, they also had good experiences. The Halberts were aware that not everyone would agree with their diversity. However, they were not seeking anyone’s approval.
The family will more than likely have to deal with spectators who don’t agree with their life choices. The Halberts are aware that not all people are in favor of diversity. But, they don’t care about other people’s opinions.
Aaron said, “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,” Aaron continued.
“Our differences are cause for celebration, not scorn,” he concluded. And, besides standing for diversity, the couple also had something to say about embryo adoption.
The couple believes that adopting an embryo is just as important as adopting a child. After they did their own research, they discovered that there are still millions of embryos waiting to be adopted. The embryos that 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.”
Although the couple was happy with their decision to proceed with embryo adoption, they warn that it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. They also agree that it’s not for everyone.
“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. Somehow, whether medical or family size or financial or age, you are unable to have any more transfers.” explained Rachel.
Even though embryo adoption is not for everyone it was the perfect choice for Aaron and Rachel. The couple got triplets as well as the priceless experience of pregnancy.
Rachel describes the experience as “beautiful and unique.” She also demonstrated her gratitude to the “brave and selfless” biological parents who donate the embryos.
The Halberts were completely open-minded about the idea of adoption and went into the process with an open heart, and they received fantastic blessings in return.
Rachel had hoped she would have four or five kids but she never thought it would happen so fast. The children are happy and healthy. They have two great parents who teach them good values and impart good morals. We are certain that they will grow up to have compassion, kindness, and optimism just like their mom and dad. But how does Rachel cope with five kids?
Anyone who has a child will agree that that one child is enough to keep a mom 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 the hair of four beautiful girls and one handsome little guy, and finding a minute or two to eat some food myself,” said the mom. But there’s another question on everyone’s mind…
You may be wondering if Aaron and Rachel will adopt more children after their experience.
“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. But Aaron and Rachel have not given up on their other life goals.
After the triplets were born, they decided to relocate to Tegucigalpa. Aaron and Rachel work in the capital and give back to the less fortunate. The special duo also has equal responsibility in taking care of their five children.
Nevertheless, Rachel is now a full-time mom. But the Halberts remain in the city to share the gospel in every way possible.
All five children enjoy growing up in America and in Honduras.
The Halbert family portraits are definitely not traditional, but their variety and love for one another shines through. The Halberts have displayed their humanity through their remarkable family story, and the children look happier than ever. Moreover, people around the world thank them for adopting children in need.
Since the first day of their incredible journey, Rachel and Aaron recognized the people who fully understand their missions and dreams in life.
They both know that they can’t have it all; however, they have enough to make their lives worth living. Rachel and Aaron shared that while many people look down on their family for having African-American children, none of them can ruin their happiness.