My story is probably similar to yours. I grew up in a small rural farm town in the middle of iowa cornfields. I have three big older brothers who are both my protectors and pests and a mom and dad who’s greatest goal is to get me to graduate from college and married. My grandparents live close and I see them on all major holidays with the rest of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I got good grades and mostly stayed out of trouble, and when it was time, I moved away from my safe and close knit community to go to a university in the “city”. Like I said my story is similar to yours—just maybe swap out the Iowa part, because not very many people are from there.

Most of my life I secretly dreaded this day—I hated the attention

The only thing that might be different is that every year in May, my family celebrates something we call “coming home day”. It’s a very elite holiday and doesn’t get much recognition outside of my family.

It’s the day that I came to America.

Most of my life I secretly dreaded this day. I hated the attention and the big fuss my mom used to make, but mostly it was because it made me feel so unlike my real identity.

Every other day out of the year I had completely forgotten that I was adopted—besides when we took family pictures or I met someone new and they saw a picture of us. You might think it’s funny that a girl from Korea, living in a very white, very blonde-haired and blue-eyed family and town would identity so much with a culture, people, and place that is so very unlike the norm, but you see, that’s how I was raised.

Adoption was never a secret in my family nor was it ever a word that made the dinner table hush. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that “one of these is not like the other”. I never identified with the word “adopted” because i never felt adopted, I just felt…normal.

Iowa Fields

Adoption is a pretty popular thing now

but in 1991 it wasn’t. My parents went against the grain of culture for what was acceptable. How they raised me in the middle of this tension, I think, has made all the difference. Their constant position of prayer in covering me and my future of learning how to fit in and be accepted, the grace they extended to one another and to neighbors and people who didn’t understand, and their “yes” to Jesus despite the crippling fears and worries that confronted them during the process set me up for a life of understanding what the Kingdom looks like.

What ended up happening was them having a daughter who believes that she’s just a very tan white person, hates kimchi and white rice, had way too many friends, got denied a cultural scholarship, and forgets that she’s adopted.

I’m a Hulst and I always have been. My mom and dad are my real mom and dad. Many people don’t even know I’m adopted and think that I have an Asian family. I talk about my siblings and parents with such joy and pride in my heart with no hints of bitterness, rebellion, or hurt.

My identity is first and foremost as a daughter who has a good Father (Matthew 7) and whose Family is full of adopted brothers and sisters (romans whose identity is never a label or an event in time, but is always from the perspective of the Kingdom.

Photos graciously provided by LearningLark and Taren Maroun

hails from Orange City, Iowa. She is the youngest of four and has had even amounts of adventure, order, free spiritedness, and practicality in her. The nighttime is her favorite and she loves tea, prefers mountains to a beach, and wants to learn more about the immeasurable Kingdom. Awaken and Awakening has become her story, family, and future.