This is not the way we planned it 12 years ago when we were dating and talking about adoption, but oh, how thankful we are for God blessing us with these sweet little ones He has placed in our care. I can remember a friend going through the adoption process telling me he had always wanted his family to look like a little United Nations. 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 hint of Heaven.
Editor’s note: Aaron and Rachel Halbert are missionaries with the Presbyterian Church in America’s Mission to the World, and are serving in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
As I have made the stroll from my wife’s hospital room to the NICU these past few days it has been hard to fathom the way that our family has been put together.
This past Sunday, my gorgeous wife – a white evangelical, like me — gave birth to our beautiful African-American triplet daughters whom we adopted as embryos. These sweet girls will hopefully soon be coming home to meet their 3-year-old African-American brother and 2-year-old biracial sister, both of whom we adopted as infants. The normalcy of this paragraph is something I have come to take for granted. Yet what seems to us to be the logical outcome of being pro-life is still something that to others often needs much explaining.
I grew up as a child of evangelical missionaries in Honduras, very aware of racial diversity because I was the blue-eyed, cotton-topped white kid who stuck out like a sore thumb, but all the while felt deeply connected to the people there, even though we looked very different. My wife, on the other hand, grew up in the delta of Mississippi and it wasn’t until she took a few trips to Haiti that the veil of racial prejudice was lifted from her eyes. 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. Our differences are cause for celebration, not scorn.
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 see protection of children not as charity, nor as part of a political agenda, but as something near to the heart of God. Because every human life bears his image, all life –no matter how young or old, no matter the stages of development — has inherent dignity and value. The Scriptures testify that God has always pleaded for the protection of his most helpless and needy image-bearers. Another prevalent theme of the Bible is that God adopts believers into his own family. When we adopt, we are echoing his own compassionate work, giving the world a glimpse of the truth and beauty of the gospel.
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.