[dc]I[/dc]magine being adopted and then over the course of your life reuniting with your biological mother, cousins and then your siblings. I don’t have to imagine this because I am currently living it. Over the past 10 years and most recently as two years ago, I learned that I have over 12 siblings! Being separated from your natural family brings up a whole host of issues and then when you do reunite with them, even more concerns crop up and you’re left wading in waters that have been slowly rising for years.
There are so many things to delve into here, but what I’d like to focus on is something a lot of reunited siblings and other biological relatives have encountered, but no one wants to talk about. GSA. What is GSA? Well, the technical term is called Genetic Sexual Attraction. Let’s sit with that a minute.
According to Wikipedia, it’s a sexual attraction between close relatives, such as siblings or half-siblings, a parent and offspring, or first and second cousins, who first meet as adults.
The term was coined in the US in the late 1980s by Barbara Gonyo, the founder of Truth Seekers In Adoption, a Chicago-based support group for adoptees and their new-found relatives.
I like the definition crafted by Joe Soll, Owner and Operator of the Adoption Healing Network better: Genetic Attraction: A very strong physical attraction that often occurs between adoptees and their original parents and/or siblings upon reunion. The attraction happens for a variety of reasons and those that feel it need to be extremely careful that they do not act upon the feelings.
The last line of that definition is very important. There are some organizations and individuals though who condone GSA for various reasons and I personally think it’s wrong. The physical separation of siblings or parents and children does not negate the fact that they are indeed biologically related.
My first foray into this hidden world took me very much by surprise. After being reunited with my biological mother, a few years later I was reconnected with one of my biological brothers. As we spoke over the phone and tried to get to know one another he asked me a question I had not considered. “What if when we meet we’re attracted to each other?” I immediately told him that would not be the case because we were siblings. For him even to ask the question troubled me, but it was an honest query and if it was something he was thinking about, I did appreciate him bringing it out into the open instead of harboring it in secret. With the question on the table, we could deal with it openly and honestly.
But there was a part of me that felt somewhat violated. I had been looking forward to our reunion date with a lot of excitement. I mean, wow, I was going to meet my little brother for the first time as an adult. I felt emotional. I thought about all we had missed out on by not growing up together. I wanted to hug him tightly when I saw him, shoot some hoops and just talk to him. But that question. That damn question lingered in the air like the scent of stale collard greens. It made me think about what I was going to wear when I met him. Make sure you don’t wear anything too revealing. Don’t be tempting. Those were the words running through my mind when I should have been thinking about where we would hang out when I saw him.
When we did meet, it was surreal. The voice I had heard over the phone for more than a year was now attached to a living being I could see. I looked at him closely trying to find the familiarity in our faces. It was in the eyes that I recognized me. This was indeed my brother. We embraced several times during our initial meeting and when he drew me in the second time he whispered to me in a flirtatious manner, “I’m glad I didn’t meet you before I knew you were my sister.”
Irritation and anger coursed through me, but I didn’t have to respond as I was not alone at our reunion. Another relative spoke up and shut him down and he laughed it off. Some may think that admission was harmless, but slowly with the question and now this statement, he was chipping away at our sibling connection, making me feel like I had to be on guard in his presence.
The rest of the meeting was good however, as he didn’t bring up any more inappropriateness, but the damage had been done. There were other occasions in our conversations where I had to keep reminding him that we were siblings and that certain things should not be discussed and it got to the point one day where we had a bad blow up. I let it be known that I was tired of his sexual comments and that we were not going to be able to speak anymore if it continued. We were a little distant during this period, but over time it sunk in for him that I was indeed his sister and the inappropriate comments stopped.
Thankfully I had resources which helped me get through this difficult part of my family reunion. But what about separated siblings who meet and an attraction is mutual? What if it’s not just jokes or comments, but actions? When you are about to meet a biological relative or sibling it’s best to have some support. Either from a therapist or counselor who can guide you through the process like I did. In this most vulnerable situation be gentle with yourself, don’t accept anything that feels uncomfortable to you and question your own actions if you are acting out of character. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional.
Here is an adoption resource website that is helpful:
Tameka is a native Detroiter, living in New York who loves writing, networking and cultivating great relationships. Her professional background includes work as a social media strategist, public relations professional, radio segment producer, project manager and consultant for media & publishing companies as well as non-profit organizations, most notably, WCBS, Newsweek, Scholastic, Girl Scouts of the USA and the American Cancer Society. She wrote her first poem when she was 5-years-old and it consisted of just two words: “I dream.” She believes that with persistence and passion dreams can be transformed into goals which become reality. Her novel Letters to Chyna, which delves into the emotionally charged issues of adoption is currently being reviewed and considered for publication. Follow her on Twitter @Tamstarz.