Meet Aaron Halbert and his wife Rachel… They are the parents of five children, four African-American and one biracial. The newest additions to the family are a set of triplet girls that Rachel gave birth to after the evangelical couple decided to adopt some African-American embryos. Halbert explains his and his wife’s reasons in a fascinating Washington Post editorial which we have excerpted below:
On Why They Didn’t Adopt White Children:
When we were still dating, a common bond that drew us together was the fact that Rachel and I both wanted to adopt. While we were fertile, we were both deeply convicted that one of the ways to be pro-life is to involve ourselves in adoption. Several years into our marriage, even as we were pursuing the idea of returning to Honduras as missionaries with the Presbyterian Church in America, we visited an adoption agency in Mississippi, where we were living at the time. We were also trying at the time to conceive naturally. 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.
We think this is very commendable, but Aaron describes some of the negative experiences the family has already encountered, especially living in the South (Mississippi). Fortunately he shares positive experiences as well.
On Embracing Racial Differences
When we began the adoption process we knew race could play a major role in our family dynamics, which led us to ponder deeply what a racially diverse family would look like. We believe when you look into any human’s eyes, you look into the face of an image-bearer of God – into the eyes of a person whose soul is eternal. While that is the common thread of all humanity, it doesn’t mean our racial differences are insignificant. We see the human family’s varying physical characteristics as awesome reminders of God’s creative brilliance. It’s not that we think race doesn’t exist, or that we don’t see it. In fact, it’s the opposite – we see it, and we embrace it.
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. 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 biracial 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.
If there were more couples like the Halberts do you think America would be closer to the post-racial vision that optimists hoped would come about after Obama was elected?
Why They Adopted Embryos:
It was our commitment to the protection of the unborn and to the idea of continuing to add to our family that led us, last year, to the National Embryo Donation Center, a Christian embryo bank. With our adopted children keeping us busy, we hadn’t been exactly looking for anything to add to our already-full plate. However we had recently run into a couple who highly encouraged us to look into embryo adoption. We were deeply moved by the idea of adding more children to our family by rescuing these tiny lives created from in-vitro fertilization, and intrigued by the thought of Rachel getting to experience pregnancy.
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 we met with the NEDC, we were again faced with the question of what ethnicity we would choose for our adopted embryos. We wanted additional siblings to feel connected to our first two children racially, and asked the team at the NEDC if we could be matched with African-American embryos. They agreed with our thoughts about our kids matching each other racially and were supportive of the decision to select African American embryos.
This is probably the most controversial part of the story of all. Obviously the Halberts look at the destruction of embryos the same way some people see abortion, but do you think their decision to adopt the triplets (they actually only implanted two embryos but one split, creating triplets) as embryos contradicts the whole purpose of adopting kids who need homes and are less likely to be adopted?