A young Irish couple with a toddler have been left devastated after reportedly finding out they are, in fact, half brother and sister.
The pair, who grew up far apart and met two years ago, told Britain's The Mail on Sunday newspaper that DNA testing last month revealed they share the same father.
The young man, who is known only as "James", was unable to find out the truth about his family background because of secrecy surrounding Irish family law.
The couple, aged in their 20s, are now planning to undertake a landmark civil case against a judge and a child psychologist who were involved in James's case.
"When we found out that we were half-brother and half-sister, we were devastated," said James, who has decided to keep his family's identity a secret for the sake of their son.
"When I got the phone call with the DNA tests, it was like when you hear about someone you know has died or like when you are in a car crash."
The couple say they still plan to get married and have more children, despite being shocked and pained by the news.
"I'm not blind and I'm not oblivious to what people might think," James said.
"We're not from a bad background and if someone had said to me that they were in a relationship like this, I would have said they were sickos."
Their decision to marry could present them with legal battles as their relationship is seen as illegal in the eyes of the law, the newspaper reported.
The couple said their decision to remain anonymous was due to fear of ridicule and even more so to protect their son, who they believe would be stigmatised by society and picked on at school.
That they met in the first place was a remarkable coincidence.
"We grew up in separate towns about 100 miles [160 kilometres] apart," said James, of Leinster.
"We met by chance in a town neither of us is from. We'd never met before and there is about two years between us.
"We got on very well. We are very similar in what we like and dislike. We really hit it off. We agreed on everything. I'd been in relationships before but I just knew this was different."
The couple's father, who is known as "Tom", had unknowingly fathered James in a short-term relationship before he settled down with his current family.
Once he found out about James's birth about four years later he proceeded with a legal battle to gain access to his son, The Mail on Sunday reported.
The court ruled that James should have no knowledge of his real father or have any access to him.
The couple said they hoped speaking out would help others in similar situations.
"People reading this think our situation is a one-off and that the chances of this happening are the same as the chances of winning the lottery – but every week someone wins the lottery."
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