Genetic Sexual Attraction: husband and wife discover they are brother and sister

The phenomenon can happen in siblings separated at birth and is experienced in up to half of post-adoption reunions  

A Brazilian husband and wife have discovered - live on the radio - that they were brother and sister.

Both had searched for their mothers, who abandoned them as children, but it turned out they were looking for the same woman.

Adriana, 39, and her husband Leandro, 37, who did not want to share their surnames, have known each other for 10 years and now have a six year old daughter together.

Both Adriana and Leandro, who live in Sao Paulo, had been searching for their mother for a number of years. Leandro knew his mother was called Maria, and that she had abandoned him at the age of eight. He was brought up by his step-mother.

View of Sao Vicente, southern coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil View of Sao Vicente, southern coast of Sao Paulo, Brazil Adriana knew her mother was also called Maria, and that she had been abandoned at the age of one. She was brought up by her father.

The couple thought that their mothers, who they believed to be two different women, should the same name was a “coincidence,” as Maria is a common name in Brazil.

But Adriana’s refusal to give up the search for her mother led her to calling into to Brazilian radio station Globo Radio, and eventually managing to speak to her mother on The Time is Now programme, which specialises in finding lost relatives, the Mirror reports.

At the end of Adriana’s conversation with Maria, her mother revealed she also had a son called Leandro, who did not know her.

Adriana, shocked at the realisation that her husband was also her brother, said: “I don’t believe that you’re telling me this. Leandro is my husband.”

The phenomenon that Leandro and Adriana have experienced is called Genetic Sexual Attraction, and it occurs between “two adults who have been separated during the critical years of development and bonding and are reunited alter as adults,” according to a GSA website, which has now been turned into a GSA support-based forum.

In 2003, the Post-Adoption Centre, which offers information and counselling to people undertaking adoptee reunions, and which at the time was seeing 3,000 clients a year, estimated that up to half of reunions were accompanied by anything from temporary attraction to obsessive sexual obsession, according to the Guardian. A study by University College London found similar results.

The attraction that occurs between separated family members can been defined by people not having experienced what is known as the Westermark Effect, a hypothetical psychological effect that suggests people who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives together means they become desensitised to any later sexual attraction. People who experience GSA have supposedly not had this critical period of desensitisation together.

“Now I’m scared to go home and find out Leandro doesn’t want me anymore. I love him so much,” Adriana told her mother on the radio.

The couple were reportedly never married legally. Adriana said: “Only death is going to separate us. All this happened because God wanted it to happen.

“Of course it would have been different if we had known all this before, but we didn’t and we fell in love.”

Their case is not isolated, and the more extreme cases of GSA are prone to making national headlines; in 2008, the story of a pair of twins who were separated at birth but who later married was widely covered. They had been adopted by different families and completely unaware they were twins until after they were married. The marriage was annulled.

And GSA was even used as plot line in Neighbours in the early 2000s, when the character of Serena Bishop becomes immediately attracted to a new character, Luka Dokich, before discovering he is her half-brother.

In the case of Adriana and Leandro, they are determined to stay together, despite what “anyone might think”. Their attitude to their relationship reflects the findings of Dr Maurice Greenberg, who spoke to the Guardian in 2003, said it is essential to determine GSA as incest only in terms of biology, as the relationships that occur – even when sexual - are between two consenting adults.

Adriana said: "At first we were really knocked by it all, but we had a family meeting and told everyone that we are going to stay husband and wife, whatever anyone might think.

"We have so many plans together. Nothing is going to break us up. Nothing."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor