Two Adopted Women Become Friends While Working Together, Begin Questioning Their Relationship

Lois Oladejo
Apr 03, 2022
01:00 P.M.
Share this pen

Meagan Hughes and Holly Hoyle O'Brien started as friends after learning they were both from South Korea. But discovering they were both adopted and had the same last name sprung many questions about how connected they were. 


In 1971, two-year-old Korean girl Pok-nam Shin, now called Holly Hoyle O'Brien, lived with her father, who owned a grocery store, and her stepmother.

The little girl had grown up with no memory of her mother, and one night while her father was asleep, she saw her stepmother leave the house with her stepsister, Eun-sook Shin, now called Meagen Hughes, who was just a toddler.

Meagan Hughes and Holly Hoyle O'Brien sitting and chatting. | Source:


Pok-nam was left alone with her father, a drunkard who always gave her money instead of being available for his daughter. 

Tragically, five-year-old Pok-nam was suddenly pulled out of school one day by the police to come and identify her father, who had somehow been hit by a moving train. Afterward, she ended up in an orphanage in Pusan.

Unknown to Pok-nam, her stepsister, who she last saw as a toddler leaving the house at night with her stepmother, had somehow also ended up in the same orphanage. 


However, the sisters never met or realized their connection until American families adopted them. In 1976, Eun-sook Shin was adopted and taken to New York, where she had her name changed to Meagan Hughes.

Meanwhile, it took until 1978 before Pok-nam was adopted and taken to Virginia, where her name was also changed to Holly Hoyle O'Brien. 



Meagan became a certified nursing assistant in 2002 before moving to Sunset Lake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Venice, where she worked as a physical therapy assistant. 

In 2012, she met and befriended Mathew Nelms, a physical therapist, and both of them decided they wanted to work at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota.

In November of that same year, Matthew's dream of working at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota came true when he was surprisingly appointed at the hospital due to positive feedback from his former patients on his résumé. 


A photo of Meagan Hughes and Holly Hoyle O'Brien when they were young. | Source: Herald-Tribune

However, before he left, Meagan made him promise her he would do everything he could also help to get her appointed at the hospital. On the other hand, Pok-nam Shin, now Holly Hoyle O'Brien, who had also been a certified nursing assistant since 1991, moved to Sarasota in 2005 with her ex-husband. 


She had worked with HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital for years before being officially appointed at the clinic, where she began working with the medical unit on the fourth floor. 

Meanwhile, Mathew Nelms kept his promise to Meagan by pestering the hospital to appoint her until she was called for an interview which she passed. As fate would have it, Meagan was also placed on the fourth floor, the same as Holly. 

Meagan Hughes and Holly Hoyle O'Brien getting emotional and consoling one another. | Source: Herald-Tribune



Holly and Meagan started as colleagues before they developed a friendship after learning they were both from South Korea. Away from work, the pair would often meet up for lunch at P.F. Chang's and visit each other's homes about 25 minutes apart. 

As their friendship grew, they discovered they were both in orphanages in Korea before being adopted by American families. They also both had abandonment on their adoption paperwork.

After almost five months of meeting, the pair surprisingly discovered they had the same Korean last name, Shin. 

Adoption paperwork of Meagan Hughes and Holly Hoyle O'Brien. | Source: Herald-Tribune


The similarities were too much to ignore, so they decided to take a DNA test and put all doubts to rest. Shockingly, when Holly got the results, she could not believe her eyes.

She had found her long-lost sister. Holly immediately texted Meagan, and the latter, who was attending to a patient, was astounded by the news.


Even though the latter grew up with no recollection of her childhood in Korea, she knew she had a sister. The pair were overjoyed to finally reunite after countless years and have plans to spend more time together. 

They were also grateful to Mathew Helms, who they tagged their spirit brother. Without his efforts, Meagan would probably have never been hired at the hospital, ultimately leading to their reunion