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Hopeful Adoptive Parent Fears: Is Rape Hereditary?

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By faitha - Posted on 04 May 2009

Snake (c) Lynda BernhardtA reader wants to know if rape is hereditary. The short answer to this question is a resounding NO!!!!!

Whether rape is hereditary is a question that many hopeful adoptive parents have but are too afraid to ask. When I filled out my adoption application, I was specifically asked whether I would consider adopting a child who was conceived by rape. The question is on the form because many hopeful adoptive parents have reservations about adopting a child that was conceived by rape.

The biggest risk involved in adopting a child that was conceived by rape is the lack of a health history for the biological father. If you, as a hopeful adoptive parent, only want to adopt a child that has a full health history for both birth parents, then you will want to decline a match with a child conceived by rape. Otherwise, there is no other medical or behavioral reason to decline the match. (Some hopeful adoptive parents might decline the match due to concerns about talking with the child about his beginnings. This is a separate issue that I covered here.)

What a hopeful adoptive parent is concerned about is whether rape is hereditary. To put it another way, the concern is whether the biological offspring of a rapist has a higher chance of growing up into a rapist himself. The answer is no.

There is no “rape gene” that causes the deviant behavior. Sexual aggression, including rape, is a learned behavior, not an inherited one.

Over 75% of serial rapists report they were sexually abused as youngsters. ~ Statistics Surrounding Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual aggression is a common aftereffect of child sexual abuse. The child becomes sexually aggressive to take control over sexual contact. If the person is going to have sex, the sex is going to be on his terms. Unfortunately, some sexual abuse survivors do become predators themselves: some on children and other on adults.

As long as you raise your adopted child in a loving home, you need not worry about him growing up to be a rapist, even if he was conceived by rape.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt