Can you marry your adopted sibling? (Yes or No?)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can you marry your adopted sibling? We will speak about the sexual attraction between siblings, why it happens and what are the consequences of this type of relationship. 

Can you marry your adopted sibling in the USA?

Yes, you can marry your adopted sibling in the USA, as long as you are not related beyond a fourth degree. In other words, you cannot marry your adopted sibling in the USA if you are related to the fourth degree. Also, even before being allowed to marry your sibling, you must take prior permission from the court and show proof of you not being related.

Although adoptive siblings who wish to get married are an extremely rare and unusual situation, it may arise. The quick answer to the question about adopted siblings getting married is “no”. In some rare cases, there may be exceptions.

The rules established for kinship by affinity should be applied in cases of adoption, given the absolute assimilation that in our legal system exists between filiation by consanguinity and adoptive. 

However, the doctrine considers that regarding the straight line there is no doubt about its prohibition, but with the collaterals, it understands that there is no such prohibition, therefore, it is possible to marry adopted children, who descend from different parents, or from the adopted with the marital or extramarital child of the adopter.

Examples:

1. The marriage made up of John and Mary, who adopt Chris. And few years later Luisa, who has no blood relationship with neither of them: Chris and Luisa could get married.

2. John and Mary have a married son (it would also be worth it if he is extramarital), Chris, but they have adopted Luisa. Chris and Luisa could get married.

3. John and Mary adopt the pair of brothers Chris and Luisa. They could not marry because they have a blood relationship.

On a side note, this issue has been in the news recently. In the case of Bobbi Kristina Brown and Nick Gordon. Nick appeared in the picture as an older child. Bobbi claims that his famous and now deceased mother, Whitney Houston, was permissive regarding the union. 

However, they received a significant amount of backlash and criticism for getting married … or at least saying they were married. The two were never supposed to be legally married. It is doubtful that they could have been legally married either. Bobbi tragically died during the summer of 2015. 

The bottom line is that no, siblings, whether by blood or adoption, cannot and should not legally marry. This still leaves a question mark on the people who ask How common is it to marry your step sibling.

Why do most people feel the rejection of a sibling relationship, even if it is consensual? 

In the vast majority of cultures, sexual relations between relatives with different degrees of consanguinity – parents with sons and daughters, brothers among themselves and, to a lesser extent, cousins – are not socially accepted. Sometimes they are also legally prohibited.

One explanation is the rule of exogamy: in the primitive tribes, young people looked for their partner outside the group – in some societies women left and in others, men – and these marital ties favoured alliances with other lineages, which strengthened the family nucleus and reduced the possibility of confrontations with neighbours, but there is also a biological reason. 

When human beings are paired with their relatives over several generations, the risk of inherited diseases increases; individuals become less fertile and reproduce less. In other words, evolution rewards the dispersion of genetic inheritance and punishes its concentration.

An argument that reinforces the biological interpretation is that also some animal species avoid mating with members of their family. In species such as chimpanzees or spider monkeys, females must leave their natal groups when they reach sexual maturity and search for a new one. In the cappuccinos or the macaques, it is the opposite, it is the males that must leave the group. 

An adaptive mechanism that guarantees that this rule is met is the development of sexual rejection towards the people with whom we live; The so-called Westermarck effect is established in early childhood, but, according to some scientists, it would also explain the decrease in desire in long-term marriages.

Many people get confused between the terms stepbrother and half-brother. This makes it even more difficult for them to decide whether they should/can marry either of the two.

Genetic sexual attraction

The curious thing is that the scientific literature describes that imprint that leads us to avoid relationships with close relatives or childhood friends, but also an apparently contradictory phenomenon: genetic sexual attraction, by which members of a family who grow up separated (step-siblings for example) can feel attracted when they are older

This syndrome has become known in recent years due to the reunions between relatives who had lived in different homes as a result of adoption processes.

Patrick Stübing and Susan Karolevski grew up separated because he was given up for adoption at the age of 3 in Leipzig (Germany). Two decades later, he met his biological family and began a relationship with his 16-year-old sister, who suffered from slight mental retardation. 

They had four children: two of them have severe intellectual disabilities, one was born with congenital heart disease and the fourth is normal. As intimate relationships with family members is illegal in Germany, Stübing was imprisoned and the custody of the three older children was taken from them. The case was very controversial – a sector of society asked to break “the last taboo” – but in 2012 the Strasbourg Court ruled in favour of German Justice.

There is a group of inherited diseases, that to manifest require that both copies of the gene are mutated. In this case, if the parents are relatives, their descendants have a 50% chance of being carriers of the disease and a 25% chance of suffering from it.

Although the probabilities that the children suffer anomalies depend on the degree of consanguinity, it is calculated that they are close to twice that of people without a relationship. Phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis or porphyria are some ailments of this group.

Are sisters attracted to their brothers?

There are enough cases of romantic and passionate love between brother and sister to convince us that yes, it can happen.

The first and most important thing is to try to understand the nature of your feelings and why brotherly love seems to have turned into romantic, passionate love.

If you feel that you have fallen in love with your brother or sister, it is very possible to try to deny your feelings, to ignore them, to try to find other explanations than that you really love your brother or sister in a way that is socially unacceptable. It is important to know that denying what you feel does not help you most of the time – it can even hurt you. 

Although it seems an impossible, unnatural situation, it sometimes happens. Therefore, it is important to know, analyze and understand your feelings, to try to find out how a brotherly love becomes more.

Can a brother fall in love with his sister?

Psychologists talk about multiple cases in which a brother and a sister who grew up separated in childhood meet again and fall in love with each other. If you are in this situation (you did not grow up with your brother/sister) and you feel that you have fallen in love with him, it can help you better understand why this is happening.

It is perfectly explainable why a person can fall in love with his or her brother or sister once he/she sees him/her again after a long separation. It’s about what you recognize in that person – you recognize parts of yourself and your parents, you recognize aspects that are so familiar and yet new. 

Every person is attracted to certain traits similar to his own (and siblings have similar traits, even similar levels of intelligence, even similar interests and abilities), but also traits that seem familiar (these are traits that the person remembers to loved ones in childhood: parents, grandparents, other significant adults in the life of the young child). 

Therefore, this similarity and familiarity suddenly found in a person gives birth to an intense attraction, an attraction that takes the form of romantic or passionate love, even if normally a brother and a sister would not have such a connection.

Why does it happen most often that someone falls in love with his brother or sister after they have been separated for a long time? Simple: when a brother and a sister grow up together, share the same house and sometimes even the same room, there is a so-called “desensitization” of the attraction. It is an effect that is believed to be naturally programmed to prevent intimate relationships with family members.. 

The constant closeness leads to saturation of stimuli and too much familiarity between brother and sister, which kills any attraction.

This can be seen even in people who are not relatives, but who grow up in the same house: for example, children who are raised together, once adults, do not feel attracted to each other, looking for more distant partners. They have simply become too familiar, too close, so they feel brotherly love and not a romantic and physical one.

On the other hand, if two children grow up separately, once they see each other again, they can feel that deep connection given by genetics and can interpret it as romantic love (there is the feeling that you have found your soulmate because a brother or a sister does not only share common traits but also share something of your being, genetic material and maybe spirit). 

There is a certain familiarity, but there is no saturation of stimuli – on the contrary, this familiarity is paradoxically perceived as new and exciting. 

Brother and sister are instinctively attracted to each other and because there is no saturation of stimuli to kill any trace of physical attraction, they will fall in love with each other romantically and passionately (there is that unique connection that exists between any brother and sister, but is doubled by attraction). 

The relationship is new, the deep connection between them is old, from their birth.

People also want to know what are the states where you can marry your sibling, if they’re unable to contain their feelings, despite the restrictions their law puts on them.

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Conclusions

In this blog post, we answered the following question: Can you marry your adopted sibling? We spoke about the sexual attraction between siblings, why it happens and what are the consequences of this type of relationship. 

Although adoptive siblings who wish to get married are an extremely rare and unusual situation, it may arise. The quick answer to the question about adopted siblings getting married is “no”. In some rare cases, there may be exceptions.

In the vast majority of cultures, sexual relations between relatives with different degrees of consanguinity – parents with sons and daughters, brothers among themselves and, to a lesser extent, cousins – are not socially accepted. Sometimes they are also legally prohibited.

People also want answers to their questions like Can you marry your brother in law?

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Can you marry your adopted sibling?

Can you marry your adopted sibling in America?

In America, most states have laws against marrying somebody you are related to (even if they are adopted or a step-sibling/parent etc) with the exception of a few. 

Can you marry your adopted sibling UK?

In the UK you may marry your adopted sibling or the rest of your adoptive family, except your adoptive parents. 

Is it normal to be attracted to family members?

It is not normal to be attracted to family members, however, there are enough cases out there to prove that this happens. There is even a term for this, called Genetic Sexual Attraction, or GSA.

Why don’t we find our siblings attractive?

We do not find our siblings attractive because we grew up too close to them. The constant closeness leads to saturation of stimuli and too much familiarity between brother and sister, which kills any attraction. This can be seen even in people who are not relatives, but who grow up in the same house.

What is it called when you are attracted to your sibling?

When you are attracted to your sibling, you may speak of Genetic sexual attraction. GSA means that a strong sexual attraction may develop between close blood relatives, but only when the two first meet as adults.

What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues

Relationship counselling

  • If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.

LGBTQ issues

If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.

References

Legislation.gov.uk – Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986

Genetic-genealogy.co.uk   -FORBIDDEN MARRIAGE LAWS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

Familytreeforum.com -Forbidden Marriages

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