Aaron Grew Up in Honduras
Aaron was no stranger to diversity. He stuck out a lot as an evangelical missionary child in Honduras due to his blonde-haired, blue-eyed looks. However, growing up in that environment showed him how people can look different — yet we’re all the same deep down.
It often takes growing up in a diverse neighborhood or city to open your mind and recognize that we aren’t all as different as we’re led to believe.
Rachel’s Upbringing Was Different
Rachel, on the other hand, had a very different upbringing. She grew up in the delta of Mississippi, where people can sometimes be closed-minded towards those who don’t look like them.
A few trips to Haiti changed Rachel’s perspective as she spent time around the wonderful citizens there and saw through the racial prejudice she was raised with for the first time. Little did she know that it would change her life forever.
They Shared the Same Mission
In 2004, Rachel and Aaron met on a blind date and they quickly knew how right their relationship was. They both felt that they were down-to-earth people, and they shared a lot of similar goals.
A big goal for them, due to the way they were raised, was to continue using the gospel to change the world and make it into a better place. This wasn’t too hard for them to do thanks to Aaron’s background.
When Dreams Come Together
Their relationship eventually took a turn towards romance, since Rachel always felt like Aaron was the one. One thing that helped was that they both knew one thing without a doubt — they wanted to adopt.
We know what you’re thinking; adopting a load of puppies sounds like heaven! But no, children were what they both had in mind. They really wanted to start a family, and adoption was very important to both of them.
Starting Their Family
Rachel and Aaron eventually got married and were determined to start their beautiful family. They were both able to have their own children, but they believed that getting involved in adoption was extremely important for those who can afford to.
A few years into their marriage, they were trying to conceive naturally, but the idea of adoption was always floating around in their minds. They even visited an adoption agency where they were living at the time just to check things out.
Adoption With Caveats
Rachel and Aaron really loved the idea of adoption, but there was a big caveat. They had done their research, and they had learned that in the United States, agencies really struggle to find homes for non-Caucasian children.
There are a lot of issues in the US adoption system, like the fact that adopting children of certain races is often cheaper than others, and that minority children often have to spend more time in foster homes than white children do.
The Big Decision
The couple decided to tell the adoption agency that they would love to adopt a child, but with a condition — they wouldn’t adopt any child who was fully white. They believed that if they were meant to have a white child, they would have it naturally.
That’s why they felt it was so important to give a child a chance who otherwise wouldn’t be given one. It wasn’t a political statement, it was simply the right thing to do.
The Couple Makes a Move
Rachel and Aaron had been considering the possibility of going back to Honduras as missionaries, taking things back to Aaron’s roots. But, they were looking into adoption at the same time in their town in Mississippi.
As Rachel was struggling to conceive, they finally came to a decision — they were going to adopt two young African-American children. They had a big, beautiful home, and those children deserved to have a big, beautiful home to run around in… just like any child does.
Sharing Compassion and Love
They were so excited to grow their family, naming their adopted little ones Ford and Catherine. They couldn’t wait to share their passion for loving and helping others with their children. But, those around them weren’t so thrilled.
Some people in their little town in Mississippi weren’t so thrilled by the idea of their mixed-race family. Some stared at them in confusion, while others shook their heads. But, people were even more surprised by what happened to their family next.
One Big, Happy Family
Rachel and Aaron were so happy with their decision, as they felt like the children settled in very quickly and that their family was even more complete than before. They didn’t really care about the looks they got when out in public.
All they cared about was that their children were happy and that they had a home, and how much they enjoyed being their parents. They enjoyed parenting so much, in fact, that they decided that their family wouldn’t stop there.
Missing Piece of the Puzzle
Many people dream of having a big family. The idea of lots of little ones running around fills them with joy and a sense of purpose. It was something that the Halberts had always desired.
For those kinds of people, two children usually isn’t enough. They dream of three or four, or even more if they have the resources for that. Just imagine one of those big vans full of happy little ones!
An Intriguing Conversation
With two young children, the Halberts weren’t exactly looking to expand their family just yet, as they were running around just trying to keep up with their adopted kiddos. However, they had an interesting conversation with another couple.
That couple told them that they should look into a unique process of adoption, and they were very intrigued by the idea. It would mean, after all, that Rachel could give birth to a baby.
The Perfect Solution
Rachel looked up the process and they seriously considered it. While most know about IVF treatments and male donations, she found something called embryo adoption, which many people have never heard of.
Embryo adoption is the process of being implanted with an embryo that isn’t biologically related to the mother, often in order to give the embryo the best chance at life possible. They both thought it was the perfect solution.
Rachel Becomes Pregnant
Rachel and Aaron loved the idea because they were able to give embryos frozen for in-vitro fertilization a new chance. They pursued it and soon, Rachel was pregnant. It was an exciting time for both of them.
Rachel was one of many women who dreams of becoming pregnant and growing a little life, so embryo adoption gave her a chance to do just that and give her two children another sibling. But, Rachel and Aaron were in for a surprise.
The Best Chance
With processes where embryos are implanted, like in-vitro fertilization and embryo adoption, it’s common practice to implant more than one embryo to give the mother a better chance at pregnancy. Still, no one expected what happened next.
Rachel and Aaron selected two embryos for implantation, but they weren’t just any embryos. They discussed what would be best with their doctor, and came to an agreement. They wanted their two children to feel connected to these new siblings.
Shared Life Experiences
Due to the shape their family was already taking, the Halberts decided that the embryos should also be African American. The donation center they used wholeheartedly agreed that it was a good decision to make.
It would allow the family to give a home to a new deserving child, while helping all of their children bond over their shared looks and life experiences. They never once doubted that it was the right thing to do for them as a couple and for their family.
Nervewracking Doctor’s Visit
During the pregnancy, Rachel and Aaron were serving as full-time missionaries in Honduras. They had gone back to Aaron’s childhood roots. They were anxious to see whether one of the embryos had taken.
After six weeks, they went to visit the local hospital where they were living in Honduras, and were super nervous to see what the doctor would say. They never expected the question he would then ask them.
Confusion in the Doctor’s Office
After they explained the situation in their somewhat broken Spanish, the doctor asked if they were positive that they had only inserted two embryos. They said they were, and were a bit confused by the question.
All became clear when the doctor told them that not only had both embryos taken, but that one of the embryos had apparently split inside of Rachel’s womb. So, they were not going to have one baby, or even two — but three!
A Blessing Tripled
It’s fairly common when implanting embryos to end up with multiple children. That’s because many parents choose to insert more than one embryo to have the highest odds of one taking and causing pregnancy.
Rachel and Aaron had already known that twins were a possibility, but they never expected to find out that there were three little ones growing in there! It was a really big shock, but they took it in stride.
A Family Expansion
Aaron knew that his wife Rachel must be so happy. She was already so lucky to have Ford and Catherine. Now she would get to have not just a baby bump, but a massive one!
They both felt like it was truly a blessing, and they knew that those three little ones would be loved and cherished for all their days. They couldn’t wait to share their home with such a big family.
A Fear of Mixed Reactions
As a mixed-race family, Rachel and Aaron were constantly met with a lot of skepticism by people in their community. They didn’t let it phase them, though, and continued with their plans because they felt it was the right thing to do.
When they found out they’d be having African American triplets, they weren’t sure how people around them would react. They already got weird looks for having two adopted children who didn’t look like them.
A World of Support
Thankfully for them, most of their friends and family were super supportive of how they chose to expand their family, even if they think that the way they went about it was a bit unusual.
The most important thing is that love is love, and family is family, no matter what they look like. Most of the Halberts’ immediate community recognized that, making them incredibly blessed and lucky to have such a community around them.
Some Questioned the Decision
While most people were supportive, there were always those doubters, and those people were a bit confused about the methods they used for Rachel to become pregnant. But, Rachel didn’t let the haters phase her.
She truly believes that her children don’t need to have her facial features or hair color or look just like her in order to be her children. She said that love is all it takes, which should be true in any family.
Ford and Catherine’s Reactions
While Rachel was pregnant, Aaron couldn’t help but be delighted at how sweet their two children were. Seeing their love for their unborn siblings made his heart burst with pride and love. The kids would kiss Rachel’s belly, and say goodnight to it every day.
Most siblings are really excited when they find out they’ll be getting a little brother or sister, so knowing that they were getting three sisters was very exciting for Ford and Catherine.
Safety Concerns for the Pregnancy
Carrying multiple babies at once is extremely taxing on a mother’s body, and unfortunately, many babies that are part of multiple pregnancies don’t make it to full term. That means that these mothers have to be extra careful.
Rachel and Aaron constantly paid attention to her safety, making sure that she and the babies were well taken care of. Once she was closer to her due date, the doctors made a big decision.
Time for a C-Section
They decided that an early C-section would be the safest way to ensure the survival of all three of the little ones, so that’s what the family did. Aaron was all nerves while Rachel was in with the doctors, as any partner would be.
Then, he saw the beautiful babies his wife delivered. Three little black babies were born, and he burst into tears at the sight of their little healthy faces.
An Even More Fulfilling Fatherhood
Aaron was already so proud of being a father to his two adopted children, yet seeing his wife produce these three little bundles of joy was what finally made both of them realize their family was now whole.
He felt so proud and couldn’t wait to hold the three of them in his arms. He and Rachel finally had that big family they had always wanted, and they had helped children and embryos in need at the same time.
A Bigger, Happier Family
Ford and Catherine were now able to say goodnight to their three little sisters in person, and the Halberts couldn’t have been happier. They decided to throw a party when they got home as a way of saying thank you.
They couldn’t have done it all without the support of their friends and family every step of the way, especially in the face of the naysayers who didn’t understand why they did things the way that they did.
Not Like They Planned
When they started dating all those years ago and they bonded over wanting to adopt, they weren’t sure exactly how that would play out, but they didn’t expect what they ended up with.
Just because they didn’t expect it, though, doesn’t mean that they weren’t grateful for the five wonderful children they were blessed with. In fact, they’re both extremely proud of how their family turned out, because what’s inside is more important than appearances.
Doubters Don’t Matter
The Halberts have shared that some people don’t understand their mixed-race family and look down on them for choosing the path that they did. Those people don’t affect them at the end of the day, though.
They find other things more important — like living their lives as good, honest people and caring, attentive parents. They want their girls to grow up knowing they’re loved and perfect exactly as they are.
It’s Not a Big Deal
People have thanked them for doing what they did, in adopting needy children no matter what they looked like, and making a point to give a home to children who may have had a hard time finding one.
To them, though, it’s not a big deal at all. It was just the right thing to do. They firmly believe that all children deserve a chance at happiness and that their skin color is the least important thing about them.
It Takes a Village
Rachel and Aaron have always made it a point to express gratitude towards everything they were given in life and those who were there for them along the way. It meant a lot when others in their community judged their decisions.
They didn’t care what those around them thought of their choices, because they had a beautiful family of five fantastic children that they were lucky enough to have the privilege to raise.
A Heartfelt Facebook Message
The Halberts thought it was important to say thank you, so they went on social media and said, “It’s been heartening to see virtually all of your friends and family express overwhelming support for our family and the unusual way we’ve built it.”
They also shared, “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.”
Moral of the Story
Photos of the Halbert family may seem unusual to those who don’t know them, but it doesn’t matter because the children are happy, healthy, and loved for who they are. They’re being raised to be good, giving people.
Their story just goes to show that if you want something bad enough, there will always be a way to achieve it, and that there will always be people to support you through it.
There’s Always Embryo Adoption
In an update in 2021, the Halberts shared that while seeing their story everywhere has been strange, there has at least been some good to come out of it, and it’s that it’s helped to spread the word about embryo adoption.
Many of those people had never heard of it before, but they did some research and chose a similar path thanks to the Halbert family’s story. They now live in Honduras, continuing the work Aaron’s family did all those years ago.
As seen in his YouTube channel, Robbie Phillips enjoys urban climbing and exploring the outdoors but is not limited to indoor climbing. While he’s up for everything that involves his feet and hands jammed into cracks, it’s the urban sites that excite him most.
Climbing on the Underside of a Bridge in Edinburgh
Graffiti tags on a nearby concrete wall, green-brown water flowing from the center of the capital, and Robbie Phillips is hanging like a spider on the bridge’s underside. This is the regular view for his friend and cameraman Culann O Brien.
Robbie had to remove layers of garbage and polystyrene to clear the crack to jam up in the cavity above him. During the “preparation,” he mentions that this bridge is the best thing he’s ever found.
Robbie Phillips — Future Plans & How He Got Started
Since there are not many long cracks in the UK and Scotland, Robbie is fortunate to have found the bridge as he needs the practice to prepare for his future goals. These include Magic Mushrooms on El Capitan in Yosemite, California, and Eternal Flame on Trango Tower, Pakistan. Robbie has dreamed about both for decades, and he’s closer to them than ever.
Growing up, Robbie dabbled in rugby and played video games. However, he didn’t find anything he was psyched about until he found climbing. At the age of 15, he started competing indoors, and by 18, he picked up his first sponsor, Edelrid, who makes ropes, harnesses, and helmets.
Robbie Phillips even dropped out of university as the new sport became so encompassing in his life. He was not only training hard but also coaching the next generation of Scotland’s top climbers.
Not long ago, he picked up other sponsors (SCARPA and Patagonia), but this is not the only way he finances his trips. Apart from coaching, Robbie works as a lecturer, writer, and a YouTube vlogger.
Robbie Phillips says that he would rather have his mates than professional climbers next to him on a climbing trip. On his YouTube channel with Culann, they tell their own stories, making them fun and watchable.