Reunited at Last
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Monica gave birth to her son, who was originally named Carlos, when she was 16 years old. She put him up for adoption shortly thereafter, and they didn’t meet again for 18 years until they were reunited around Christmas 2015. Peterson got in touch with his birth mother over Facebook, and she picked him up from his adoptive father’s house so that they could reconnect and get to know each other.
Neither of them expected to fall in love. Monica explains:
“I met him outside and I knew it was him when he came towards me. He was crying and he gave me a hug. It was almost love at first sight but first it was mother love. He gave me a mother hug. He came home in the truck and came to live with me and we were both happy as mother and son. It felt like I met somebody new in my life and I fell in love with him. At first I told him, ‘I’m sorry I don’t know how you are going to react to this. I’m your mom and you’re my son, but I’m falling in love with you.’ And he said: ‘You know what, I am, too. I was scared to let you know.’ He was falling in love with his mom and I was falling in love with my son. We talked about it and we took off to the park. I said, ‘Would you ever date your mom?’ And he said, ‘Would you ever date your son? And I said, ‘Honest truth, yes I would.'”
Strange as it may seem to many, this type of relationship is not as rare as it sounds, and that’s exactly what Monica and Caleb plan to use in their defense. Here’s the real kicker: Science may be on their side.
Genetic Sexual Attraction
Genetic Sexual Attraction or GSA is a term coined in the 1980s that describes incest between close relatives such as mothers and sons or siblings who did not meet until they were adults. This situation affects families that have been split apart by divorce or adoption, and it has its backings in science.
Studies have shown that, via assortative mating, we are naturally inclined to seek partners with similar behavior, interests, and even looks to our own. Many of these traits are heritable, including IQ, personality, and behavior, though experts still debate whether this is nature or nurture.
While relatives who grow up together typically become desensitized to each other through the Westermarck effect, thus impeding sexual attraction later in life, family members who meet as adults are more likely to develop emotions and sexual relationships. Depending on if and when either party realizes the relation, it can either be accidental incest or an illicit romance.
And should it be?
Love Is Not Love
Many non-traditional relationships today are still regarded with distaste or loathing by society. Whether people disagree with it due to religious beliefs, social mores, or simply because they were brought up that way, there is a constant and never-ending series of forbidden loves that society tries to prevent. It hasn’t even been 50 years since anti-miscegenation laws were lifted in Loving v. Virginia, thus legalizing interracial marriage across the United States. These relationships, too, were considered taboo by society and backed by pseudoscientific and religious support. Today, we’re seeing the same thing happen with gay marriage.
“Honestly I never thought we would get into trouble for our relationship,” admits Peterson. “We were both consenting adults— when it comes down to it. She’s adult. I’m an adult. I can make my own decisions. I never thought it would blow up into something like this.” He added, “It’s just like the gays.”
Can you see the slippery slope yet?
While incestuous relationships are still not the same as interracial or same-sex ones by any means, they are similar in the way in which society abhors and actively works against them. Marriage laws in the United States are arbitrary at best, based on the [religious] notion that love can only exist between two consenting adults, almost explicitly for the purpose of procreation. But we’ve seen love come in all shapes and sizes, so what makes one kind of love more valid, more worthy than another?
For Monica Mares and Caleb Peterson, nothing, not even jail or ostracism, can keep them apart now that they are together again. Though they are currently prohibited from seeing each other, and although Mares has lost her right to see her other children for the time being, both parties defend that this is a victimless crime and said they would abandon their families to be together.
“He is the love of my life and I don’t want to lose him,” said Mares. “My kids love him, my whole family does. Nothing can come between us not courts, or jail, nothing. I have to be with him. When I get out of prison I will move out of Clovis to a state that allows us to be together [….] It is every bit worth it. If they lock me up for love then they lock me up. There is no way anybody could pull us apart, and I really do love him.”
Should they be allowed to be together? Does our government have the right to tell us who we can and cannot love? SHARE this article to spread awareness and let us know what you think!