Imagine, at age 42, finally meeting the son you gave up for adoption at age 16 and finding yourself sexually attracted to him.
Yes, disturbing. But Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA), that is, being sexually attracted to a biological relative you’ve never met because you were separated through adoption, is more common than you might think.
Given that on June 1, Ontario became the fifth province to open its adoption records — making it easier for adopted adults and birth parents to find each other — some feel there is a need for greater education and support surrounding GSA.
Little has been studied about GSA but one study out of England concluded that sexual attraction was a normal response when blood relatives met as strangers. The study’s participants described emotionally charged meetings and the shock of familiarity as they noticed the same interests, traits and mannerisms in their relative. Many described it as feeling like they were looking into a mirror.
Barbara Gonyo, the woman referred to in the opening of this column and author of I’m His Mother, But He’s Not My Son (geneticsexualattraction.com), believes there is a natural curiosity and need to know your birth relatives and what traits you share. “When contact is made, these emotions come to a head along with a need for the intimacy removed by the separation.” And because there isn’t the sexual taboo that usually develops within a family that grows up together, the intensity of these feelings often become sexualized.
By being educated about GSA, says Gonyo, the birth relative and the adoptee might be able to handle any potential sexual feelings and avoid acting on them until they subside and the relationship eventually normalizes.
In some cases, if they have acted on them, educating themselves about GSA can help deal with the psychological effects of this and allow a healthy non-sexual relationship to develop.
Gonyo is happy to hear that Ontario is opening its adoption records, in part because she feels that the secrecy surrounding adoption contributes to the stigma people suffer when they experience GSA. “If all adoptions become open from the beginning and having an adoptive family while still knowing your birth family is a given, then it all becomes more normal.”
To learn more about your rights to information and privacy regarding adoption, visit
www.adoptioninfo.ca or call 1-800-461-2156. Visit Josey’s blog Sexcetera at www.metronews.ca/blogs.
– Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit www.joseyvogels.com.
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