News and Events
Pepperdine Participates in 36th Annual Child Welfare Symposium
Pepperdine University will act as the inter-country adoption curriculumsponsor at the 36th Annual Child Welfare Symposium taking place Monday, Apr. 16, to Wednesday, Apr. 18, at the Conference Center in New York, NY. The event will be hosted by the Joint Council on International Children's Services.
The annual conference brings together 200 professionals in the area of child welfare, adoption, and orphan care for three days of information gathering, idea sharing, and networking. All those with an interest in ensuring that children live, grow, and flourish in a permanent, safe, and loving family are invited to attend. This year workshops will cover topics such as post-adoption nutrition, the future of international adoption, and the changing media landscape with regard to permanency solutions for children.
Bert Ballard, Pepperdine assistant professor of communication, adoptee, and adoptive parent will act as co-chair of the Symposium's inter-country adoption curriculum and present on the topic of "The Narrative of International Adoption," where he will give a historical look at inter-country adoption throughout the last 150 years and investigate how its current state came to be. "It's up to us as professionals to really write that next chapter in the story and what the future of inter-country adoption is going to look like," says Ballard.
Ballard's talk will expand upon misunderstandings of international adoption and call for transparency in the industry. "In today's world, when we think of adoption, we think of Brad and Angelina and Madonna," says Ballard, who proposes better solutions for those who are part of the adoption profession. "We need to change the narrative," claims Ballard, "and recognize the complexity of intercountry adoption today."
In another presentation, Ballard will present with a colleague and fellow adoptee on the relationships between adult adoptees and adoption agencies. "The relationships between adoptees and adoption agencies are important, because a lot of us adoptees are adults and in positions of more credibility and we've experienced the system all the way from being adopted to the lack of resources when we've gotten into families, or we've had identity or cultural questions," he explains. "We're really trying to be critical and point some fingers at ourselves as adoptees, but moreso at the agencies to say we've been left out of the decision-making, left out of the position of influence and seek why that is and how can we remedy that going forward. These groups are going to have to work together to productively change the future."
Ballard called on Pepperdine's sponsorship because of the University's overarching mission of purpose, service, and leadership. "As faculty, and even as students, we are called to be more than just researchers to see ways that the things we study can have an impact on the real world," he says. "For me that's an important calling and part of how I try to live out in my research, my knowledge, and expertise. It is not just for other academics, but also for others who can use it and push back against me to see if my ideas work. I think that's something Pepperdine believes in and something that Pepperdine can lead the way in."
Ballard has a long-standing relationship with the Joint Council on International Children's Services and has presented topics about international and inter-country adoption at events sponsored by such organizations as the North American Council of Adoptable Children. He has also spoken to adoptive parents, adoptee-only groups, provided training to international ministries and agencies, and convened an international summit on the issue of international adoption in 2010.
For more information about the 36th Annual Child Welfare Symposium, visit the Joint Council on International Children's Services Web site.