Imagine living your entire life not knowing you have a sibling. Now imagine that you were born halfway around the world, and almost forty years later, wound up working in the same company as a sibling that you did not even know existed. If this sounds too impossible an occurrence, have we got an amazing story for you!
In the early 1970’s Meagan Hughes was born near Seoul, South Korea. Her birth name was Eun Sook. At the age of two, her mother took her from her alcoholic father, but left her older sister, Pok Nam Shin, in his care. Although she has vague memories of her biological mother, Hughes does not know under what circumstances she came to be placed in an orphanage. In 1976, however she was adopted by an American couple, who gave her a new name and raised her in Upstate New York.
Her older sister, Pok Nam Shin, continued to live with their father until he died when she was just five years old. She was also placed into an orphanage in the city of Pusan about two hundred miles south of Seoul. In 1978 Pok Nam Shin was also adopted by an American family who changed her name to Holly Hoyle and raised her in Virginia.
Both women went into medicine and became nursing assistants. Earlier this year, Hoyle-O’Brien took a job in Sarasota, Florida. Just a couple of months later, Hughes was hired at the same hospital.
The two women worked the same shift in the same department and became close friends. As they compared their life stories however, they began to notice so many parallel events and circumstances they began to wonder “what if.”
Speaking with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Hughes said “I was like, this is too good to be true. I said ‘we’ve got to do the DNA test.’ it is the only way we’ll get the truth out of the whole thing.”
So the two women ordered DNA test kits from a company in Canada. When they received the test results, it confirmed everything they had suspected.
Hoyle-O’Brien said “I’m like, ‘this can’t be.’ I was trembling, I was so excited. I was ecstatic.”
Hughes seconded the reaction of her sister “When I heard from Holly, my first reaction was like, Oh my god. I was in shock, I was numb. I have a sister.”
Four decades, separate international adoptions, and no previous knowledge of the existence of each other, and they still managed to reunite!
South Korea has been a major source for international adoption since the end of hostilities during the Korean Conflict. Ill prepared to deal with the huge numbers of war orphans, South Korea quietly opened its adoption laws to allow European, Australian, and American families to adopt Korean children. The practice continued for decades, but has only recently been dealt with openly. It was facilitated in part by the Holt International Childrens Services, founded by humanitarian Harry Holt, after he became the first American to adopt eight Korean war orphans in the 1950’s
Today, there are four “Holt Adoption Camps” in the United States, which provide people of Korean birth to come together to discuss identity, culture, and family. These camps help with self esteem and reclaiming their heritage, as adults.
Do you know a person who was born in Korea and adopted into an American family? Please share your stories with us here.