Daughter informed me this morning that she is having a mid-life crisis. She is quite advanced, to be experiencing this crisis at age 22. Her birth brother has a daughter who will be having a birthday this Friday. This niece has Daughter's first name as a middle name. Daughter has seen pictures of her. Two years ago, I helped Daughter contact her birth mother. Birth mother told her all about Niece and how she is exactly like Daughter. Daughter also wrote her birth brother, but he never bothered to write back.
In the aftermath of the contact, Daughter had three psychiatric hospitalizations in less than two months. I know many adoptive parents encourage ongoing contact with the birth family. Any contact Daughter has ever had has always triggered psychotic episodes, so at the advice of Psychiatrist and Therapist, I have not allowed contact. Two years ago we thought she was ready for it and set it up quite carefully, with letters first and then a phone call. The phone call was too much. Daughter worries about Niece, because she fears for her safety. Niece's mother was smart and got a divorce, so hopefully Niece is now safe. But Daughter still worries, and feels that since Niece is "exactly like her" she is somehow responsible for Niece's safety. I've seen the pictures, and Niece does not look like Daughter. The only similarity is that they both have brown skin and are female.
Daughter came down and told me that Friday will be Niece's birthday. She said, "I don't talk about her much anymore. I don't know why, I guess I'm having some sort of mid-life crisis." I need to call Case Manager this morning and ask her to inform staff not to encourage Daughter to seek contact with Niece. When Daughter took pictures in of Niece and birth brother 2 years ago, they made a huge fuss, telling her birth brother was "hot" and that they could see that Niece looked like her and encouraging her to go visit them. Since Niece lives thousands of miles from her and her birth brother was in Iraq at that time, even if it had been safe, a visit wasn't possible. Of course, all of that made the situation much worse.
Daughter's first three years were spent in a house of horrors. She has severe PTSD. Since she's now thinking about Niece, I'm going to have to prepare myself for a wild ride this week. I think I'm going to encourage her to say extra prayers for Niece. Hopefully that will give her the sense that she is doing something for her, and ease her sense of responsibility for a little girl she has never even met. It may not be a mid-life crisis, but we could well be facing a crisis this week.