Running the Numbers

I think, if I had to start over in my career, I’d be a statistician. I love to work with numbers, and I love the information that they bring forth. Baseball is going through its golden age of numbers. They can forecast if a player’s production will drop in the second half because of luck in the 1st half. They are used to evaluate player’s defensive skills, and project the chance that the Twins will make the playoffs (sadly around 1%). I’ve created spreadsheets to calculate playoff percentages and projections for our fantasy football league, and created a formula to calculate the most tortured sports franchises (sorry Cubs, Suns and (sigh) Vikings fans).

The most important part of statistics is data. Without it, you’re just guessing. That’s what makes this part of the adoption process so frustrating, the lack of data. I can’t take that unknown and make it known.

Here’s what we do know. Our agency places 50-60 children a year. That’s about one a week. This has added the comment “Guess it’s not our week” to our common lexicon.

70% of our agency’s placements are from the hospital.

The average wait is between 6-18 months.

That is all.

What would make things easier? Well, what % of that 50-60 match our requirements? What % of birth mothers exclude us for whatever reason? How many other couples are we, well for the lack of a better word, competing against?

We are struggling with just simple facts that are unknown to us. Has anyone looked at our book yet? Is it at the bottom of the stack? How long does a mom look through our book for? The stat head in me is complaining about the word average. Did she imply it was mean, median or mode? Plus, that number should be parsed into two categories, 1st time adoptive parents, and everyone else. What if 1st time parents had a mean of 3 months and everyone else was 24 months?

It is a sad lack of data that sucks right now. The agency could have shown our book 20 times or no times since we’ve delivered them, and we would have no idea (although I’m not sure what extreme is worse). Instead of deciding our next move, we are stuck waiting on fate and dumb luck.

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