Genetic attraction between parents and children who have never met

Genetic attraction between parents and children who have never met

An article in Yahoo today describes a woman who tracked down her long-lost father in the US who is now pregnant with his child. This highlights the concern of genetic attraction between parent and child who have never previously met, because of adoption or sperm and egg donation.

Garry Ryan, 46, was tracked down by his daughter Penny Lawrence, 28, last year. He had left Ms Lawrence's mother when she was pregnant, so father and daughter had never met.

Following the death of her mother and the grandparents who raised her, Ms Lawrence, from Los Angeles, became obsessed with finding her father, and tracked him down to Houston, Texas.

Upon meeting, they felt an instant physical attraction, which resulted in a sexual relationship. Ms Lawrence is now pregnant with her father's child.

The couple claim that their attraction is the result of something called Genetic Sexual Attraction, a term coined in the 1980s to describe overwhelming feelings between blood relatives who first meet as adults.

Speaking with The Irish Sun newspaper, Ms Lancaster said: "We are not committing incest, but are victims of GSA. We’ve never experienced a father-daughter relationship, so we’re just like any other strangers who meet in adulthood." The couple said that if the three month scan of their baby shows it does not have birth defects, they plan to keep the child and raise it together.

The couple are aware that their relationship is illegal, and are afraid the law will be used to separate them. In the US, a sexual relationship between close blood relatives is illegal, although the specifics of incest laws vary between states. A close blood relative usually includes father, mother, brother and sister, aunt, uncle, niece and nephew but may also extend to first cousins, step parents and step brothers and sisters.

Several theories surround the phenomenon of GSA, including the notion that humans are frequently attracted to faces similar to their own. It also embraces the theory that if two people who are genetically related do not meet until adulthood, the normal sexual aversion that develops between siblings during childhood is somehow switched off.

Indeed, GSA can affect parents separated from their own children at birth, as well as siblings. It does not refer to a genetic sexual attraction, but to the fact that people are genetically connected. There have been cases of mothers and sons, and long lost brothers becoming intimate under the compulsion of GSA. The situation is reported to be quite common in reunions between adoptees.

The term GSA was coined in the 1980s by Barbara Gonyo after reuniting with the son she had given up for adoption. Upon reuniting with him 26 years later, she was horrified to discover that she had feelings for him akin to those of a lover, rather than a mother. She investigated her own feelings about her son and wrote a book in which she coined the phrase Genetic Sexual Attraction.

Since the change in the anonymity law in 2005, which now means that donor-conceived can now receive details about their donor at age 18 and make contact with each other. This begs the question whether in 2023 we will see an increase in cases of genetic attraction, which may lead to relationships between genetic parent and child. This carries the concerning risk of any baby developing genetic defects which may not be noticeable in early scans.

This is one of the reasons that Pride Angel believes that it is beneficial to intended parents, donors and children to know of their donor from an early age, which prevents cases of genetic attraction.

For more information about known sperm donors and co-parents visit

Posted: 24/03/2011 16:42:29


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