White couple shares story of becoming parents to five non-white children
A white couple have shared the heartwarming story of how they came to be parents of five black children - including the two-month-old triplets they adopted as embryos.
Presbyterian missionaries Aaron and Rachel Halbert had agreed they wanted to adopt children because that was "the logical outcome of being pro-life".
The US couple also decided not to adopt white children, as white children are more likely to be chosen by prospective parents.
Writing in The Washington Post, Halbert told of how their first two children, a three-year-old African-American boy and two-year-old bi-racial girl, came to join their family.
The couple had been married for several years and had just returned to the US after working as missionaries in Honduras when they decided it was time to become parents.
"We visited an adoption agency in Mississippi, where we were living at the time. We were also trying at the time to conceive naturally," Halbert wrote.
"Knowing that it is often more challenging to find adoptive homes in the United States for non-Caucasian children we informed the agency that we were willing to accept any child except a fully Caucasian child. 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."
After adopting their son and daughter, the couple were prepared to face varied reactions from people in their hometown.
"We knew, especially in the South, that a white couple with non-white children would draw a myriad of different reactions," Halbert wrote.
"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.
"However, there was also the young black girl who wept when we told her this little boy with her skin colour was our son, and the older white doctor who lovingly prayed over him and held him so tenderly.
"These latter experiences were rays of hope reminding us how far our country had come, while the former experiences reminded us how far we still need to go."
While it was the desire to care for children who most needed protection that led the Halberts to adopt non-caucasian children, the couple is adamant they too have benefited from the diversity in their family.
"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," Halbert wrote.
"There is also something wonderful in the relationship that is built as my wife asks a black friend on Facebook how to care for our little bi-racial daughter's hair.
"The beauty of a multi-ethnic family is found there, in the fact that the differences are the very thing that make ours richer and fuller. It forces you to think in a new way about the way you think, speak, act and live."
While the couple were busy with their two young children, a friend had mentioned the idea of embryo adoption to them. This led them to visit the US National Embryo Donation Center, a Christian organisation that adopts embryos created via IVF which would otherwise be discarded.
"We were deeply moved by the idea of adding more children to our family by rescuing these tiny lives created from in-vitro fertilisation, and intrigued by the thought of Rachel getting to experience pregnancy," Halbert wrote.
"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.
"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 it came time to select the embryos they would adopt, the Halberts chose two African-American embryos to be implanted. Six weeks later at an ultrasound clinic in Honduras, where they had returned as full-time missionaries, the couple discovered one of the embryos had split and Rachel was pregnant with triplets.
Those three baby girls (pictured below) were born in April, and the family is now enjoying life with with five children under the age of four.
The three baby girls are now part of the Halbert family. Photo: Aaron Halbert/Facebook
"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," Halbert wrote.
"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.
"It's especially encouraging to see so many of our fellow millennial evangelicals now placing a high priority on life, adoption and multi-ethnic families."