Genetic Sexual Attraction

No, this is not some bad joke about family members and incest in some (unnamed) southern state. This is about feelings of attraction that may be experienced by adults when they reconnect with birth family members from whom they’ve been separated by adoption… an attraction so strong and so intense as to be interpreted as sexual desire.

The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential defines genetic sexual attraction (GSA) as:

Nature:
Experienced between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, and between more distant relatives, but most common between siblings of opposite sex who bear a close resemblance. It takes the form of an overpowering, almost electrical grip of emotion, associated with an inability to keep away from the other person and an almost primordial sense of having belonged together all their lives. The attraction gives rise to a sense of underlying shame and guilt, together with a feeling of rejection that may prevent effective communication because the emotions are too threatening to share with anyone. This may be compounded by any sexual relationship resulting from the attraction.

Incidence:
Particularly noted in the case of adopted children who are subsequently reunited with the biological parent or sibling of the opposite sex, seemingly because the normal bonding mechanism has been disrupted.Pastor Bill Bossert, Past President of the Oregon Adoptive Rights Association (OARA) writes that genetic attraction is a frequently noted response to reunion. Feelings include the need to touch, to spend time together, talk and share. Suggested reasons for the attraction include:

When the desire to consummate the relationship enters the equation, genetic attraction becomes genetic sexual attraction.

Fear of Discovery, Fear of Separation

Acknowledging the existence of such feelings raises the spectre of incest, and when these feelings become so intense that they threaten to cross the line over into the realm of physical and deep emotional involvement, many break off the relationship completely, or limit its scope rather than try to talk about it, says Bossert. Others, according to Canadian adoption therapist Dianne Mathes, can be so overcome by fear of another separation that they too keep silent but, instead of pulling away, may view a sexual relationship as the only way to keep the connection alive.

Confront It

As with any issue, this needs to be met head-on despite its sensitive nature. It is a natural human desire to be with our own, and it’s not at all unusual to react with excessive emotion when experiencing reunion. If you find yourself “falling in love” or sexually attracted to a new-found birth family member, here’s what the experts advise:

Resources

Recommended Reading