When Your Sister is Also Your Wife… (aka Humanae Vitae was Right.)

You can’t make stuff like this up.  From the Dear Prudence column at Slate.

Q. Nasty Surprise: My wife and I…were both born to lesbians, she to a couple, and me to a single woman. She had sought out her biological father as soon as she turned 18,…I never was interested in learning about that for myself, but she felt we were cheating our future children by not learning everything we could about my past, too….  I decided to…see if my biological father was interested in contact as well. He was, and even though our parents had used different sperm banks, it appears so did our father, as he is the same person. On the one hand, I love my wife more than I can say….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?

It’s hard to know what to say in the face of something like this.  It’s the sort of thing that if Catholics had pointed out could happen back in 1978 when Louise Brown was conceived as the first test tube baby would have gotten us laughed out of the room.  Yesterday’s laughingstock is today’s prophetic voice.

Of course, donor-conception was the next step after Louise Brown, and now, the first generation of donor conceived children is coming of age and sharing their pain of feeling all their lives like they were more products than persons, and that their right to know their biological roots have been trampled.

It would be easy to play a story like this for laughs.  Songs like “I’m my own grandpa” come to mind.  But it’s hard to imagine the horror of discovering that your wife is your sister and that your own children are  your nieces and nephews.  What do you do with information like that? What do you tell your children about the genetic lottery you’ve enrolled them in?   Should all of these questions be just one more challenge of modern life?  Or is this the easily avoidable, rotten fruit of seeing life as a product that we can produce how we want, when we want it, and damn the consequences to the product we produce?

Here’s what Humanae Vitae said.

…unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. (#17.)


About Dr. Greg

Dr. Gregory Popcak directs the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to marriage, family, and personal problems. Together with his wife, Lisa, he hosts More2Life Radio. He is the author of over a dozen books integrating psychological insights with our Catholic faith. For more info about books, tele-counseling and other resources, visit www.CatholicCounselors.com.

  • Ellen

    The situation is shocking enough, but the advice given by “Dear Prudence” was atrocious. She actually told the man that his children need never know. That is absolutely appalling! I feel so sorry for him. What a disaster! This is a prime reason for lesbian and homosexual “couples” NOT to have children. I’m sure this is happening far more frequently now than anyone knows. May I ask what you might have told him had he asked, Dr. Popcak?

    • http://www.catholiccounselors.com Dr. Greg

      Ellen, I’m afraid this is one time where I am going to cling to the motto, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” I would need to seek a lot more consultation from my board of advisors before I would set myself up as someone who was prepared to counsel this couple. I’m confident I would have the resources available to me to sort it out if I had to, but I’m glad I don’t have to…yet.

    • Inge

      It’s not only that. There is ample scientific evidence pointing towards the fact that children who are raised by someone who isn’t related to them are at much higher risk to be molested and abused (for example in foster care or adoption). If this is already the case in heterosexual marriages with adopted children, why would this statistic be different in homosexual couples. Evidence suggests this is indeed the case: rates are roughly the same. Why is society trying to make us believe that these less-than-ideal ways to grow up are equal to the intact biological family. Academic psychology shows it’s not.

      • Inge

        The reason for this mechanism is Evolution: the non-related parent doesn’t want to invest in offspring that doesn’t share his/her genes.

      • http://www.catholiccounselors.com Dr. Greg

        Excellent points. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll visit and comment regularly. Dr.P.

  • cas

    Sperm donations were takIng place long before the first IVF baby was born

    • http://www.catholiccounselors.com Dr. Greg

      You’re correct, but I’m not sure what you’re larger point is as related to the article. Care to clarify? Dr.P.