And you thought you had relationship issues! An anonymous man recently wrote in to Slate's "Dear Prudence" advice column with quite a quandary: Thanks to some genetic detective work, he just found out that he accidentally married his own sister.
How could that happen? Pretty easy, actually. This guy, let’s call him "Jack," and his wife "Jill" met in college. "The attraction was immediate," he writes, and they became inseparable. And -- coincidence! -- Jack and Jill soon discovered they both happened to be children of lesbians who used sperm donors. Amazing! They really had a lot in common, right? Do you see where this is headed?
Jill knew who her biological dad was -- she had sought him out once she turned 18, via the sperm bank, but Jack says he was never interested in going that route. Jack and Jill got married after college, and had three children by the time they turned 30. Jill really thought that Jack owed it to their kids to find out his biological father’s personal and family health history, so, as an anniversary present, he says he secretly got in touch with his sperm bank, which, mind you was a totally different bank in a different city from the one Jill’s biological father used.
And, yep, you guessed it: Jack has the SAME sperm donor dad as Jill. They are half-siblings. SURPRISE, HONEY! Happy anniversary!
So now, Jack says he’s not sure what to do. Should he tell his wife? Their kids? Should they get divorced? He writes:
On the one hand, I love my wife more than I can say, and logically, done is done, we already have children. I have had a vasectomy, so we won't be having any more, so perhaps there is no harm in continuing as we are. But, I can't help but think "This is my sister" every time I look at her now. I haven't said anything to her yet, and I don't know if I should or not. Where do I go from here? I am tempted to burn everything I got from the sperm bank and just try to forget it all, but I'm not sure if I can.
What a horrible situation, right? And one that is probably more common than we might think. It does seems like, “What are the odds?!” but considering that one sperm donor can theoretically father hundreds of kids, and the use of sperm donors is increasing, well, then the odds of something like this happening are increasing as well. This certainly makes a good case for doing some detective work if you AND your husband-to-be are both either sperm donor babies or adopted.
Back to Jack: a writer at The Frisky says she could never get over something like this, and advised Jack to "...tell your wife, split up amicably and never mention a word of this to your poor children." Emily Yoffe, aka "Dear Prudence," takes a softer stance, telling Jack that he and Jill should "seek out a counselor who deals with reproductive technology to help you sort through your emotions." Oh -- and never tell your kids.
Me? I absolutely agree Jack should tell his wife (sister?!). How could he possibly not? But I don’t think that there’s any MORAL reason they should get divorced, especially since they’re definitely not having any more children. After all, they love each other, they had NO IDEA when they got married that they were related, and as far as their children know, Jack and Jill are Mom and Dad. A little different from the stories of brothers and sisters knowingly hooking up that we've read in the past.
Of course, if they just can't take living with each other after this news, I would totally understand. It’s mind-boggling enough just to think about! And as for Jack and Jill’s children, they sure don’t need to know about this, at least not right away. I have no idea if they really need to know this information once they themselves want to start families -- that’s something I’d do a lot of research on before making any decisions about. Unless it was vital information, I’d vote for NEVER telling them.
Can you imagine? What do you think "Jack" should do with this information?
Image via lawrencegerald/Flickr