Statistics. Ahhhhh good stuff. Everybody loves a good statistic. They make sad people feel like they are understood, they make lonely people feel like they are not so alone and crazy people feel…well….less crazy! Yea, everybody loves a good statistic, including me. When I started recognizing all of the residual baggage I was carrying that went along with being adopted I felt very isolated until I read something that stated I was not alone, not crazy and that there were at least X amount of people out there that felt just like I did.
In the world of adoption I don’t think there have been a record number of studies done. Actually it is becoming more and more common which is a good thing. I mean scientific studies seem to sometimes be the only thing that gets through to the masses. For instance I was talking with J about the significant number of incarcerated people who were either adopted or in foster care as children. He got a little excited there! Actually I should have prefaced that to you by saying the subject of adoption has worn out it’s welcome around here. Now the subject of adoption is just a bothersom guest like a relative that comes to visit but won’t leave you know? But boy howdy throw out some statistics and it’s like Aunt Myrtle just up and decided to do an Irish jig on the coffee table! All of a sudden the guest isn’t such a bore. Now THAT’S entertainment!
So now we can see why the studies are absolutely necessary for without them we will never see reform. Our heartfelt desperate pleas don’t seem to be working so we have to bring out the big guns. For instance standing before whoever may be making the decision to continue holding our history hostage you might say; but sir/madam blankety blank % of birth mothers actually do NOT wish for annonymity or some such thing. Then everybody in the room goes OHHHHHH I SEEEEEEE!!!!! Hmmmmm well, in THAT case let’s at least take a closer look. It doesn’t matter that the room is filled to capacity with birth mothers, adoptees and even adoptive parents on the side for open records and on the other side is nobody but a priest, a lawyer, and a birth mother they scrounged up in Doofus, TN that can offer a tearful nod when asked if opening our records would ruin her life. Oh OK I’ll be fair, there is also a “well-adjusted-perfectly-content-adoptee” sitting with them. But after her cool testimony about how she doesn’t see why records should be opened she will probably fail to mention she already HAS hers!
But even though they can serve us well there is a down side to statistic jargon.
Things you should not use statistics for:
1. Making someone feel like an idiot.
*Adoption is an emotional subject first and formost. It is NOT BLACK AND WHITE. You WILL have various shades of grey. Sometimes the grey people won’t fit. That does not make them stupid. That makes them real, or in denial, or not, whatever……the bottom line is they don’t have to fit. Sadly this even holds true for the anti-open records birth mom from Doofus, TN. She is fully entitled to reside in the minority if she so chooses. Find a more effective way to get your point across than statistics because I guarantee she will not care if she is one of only 2% and frankly neither do I.
2. Making yourself look smart.
*If you have a statistical gasbag and you remove the statistics all you are left with is gas. Which as we all know these days costs WAY more than it’s worth. If you MUST use statistics to prove your point that is fine. Just be sure you have something of substance to say when the statistics run out or you just look like you are tooting your smartie pants horn. Nobody likes a smartie pants.
Please Note: Insults do not count as substance. If somebody comes along and pulls the curtain on your OZ box have the decency to actually think about what they are saying. You might just learn something!
3. Sharing specific case studies to prove a statistic.
(This one is just for the professionals)
*Do me a favor please and keep the sharing of your client files for the psychology conference in Vegas. We all know what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and that is exactly as it should be. Professionals who share information about specific case files in an open forum are but themselves non-professional. YES this includes non-identifying information.
I understand there is a great deal you can learn if you share among your colleagues but if you are wanting to learn directly from us do a little more listening and keep the files locked in the cabinet.
Why you say? It is very simple really. Adoptees are WITHOUT access to our records. The thought that somebody can share my file (non-identifying or not) with the general public but I am not entitled to it makes me want to go postal. Or as Wraith so appropriately termed it; adoptal. So stop it!
4. Using statistics as armor during an already heated conversation.
Try to leave your statistic arsenal for the really important stuff like hearings for open records or the family reunion. (We all know statistics come in handy at the family reunion, I keep my statistic arsenal loaded and ready to serve up right next to the potato salad.), but if you are involved in a discussion with someone who is obviously very emotional don’t hit them over the head with a statistic to change their mind because it WON’T WORK! It will just piss them off which might trip your trigger but it does nothing to create change or promote healing.
That’s it for the subject of statistics. Only a few more to go I promise! I might even take a break in between. Thanks for hangin’ in there with me while I clean house. xoxo
One last thought; I will be very interested to see the percentage of people who disagree with me vs those who do not.