About our agency

  • How long has COTW been in business?
    • We have been in business since 1996. Our Founder & Director of International Programs, Pat Lee, has over 30 years experience with international adoption.
  • Where is COTW located?
    • We are located in Fairhope, Alabama
  • Is COTW Hague Accredited?
    • Yes
  • How many states is COTW licensed in?
    • Our agency is licensed in the state of Al
  • If I do not live in Alabama, can you still assist us with the India / China adoption process?
    • As a Hague accredited agency, we are able to assist clients from all 50 states in adopting from India and China.
  • What services do you offer?
    • We have 2 international adoption programs: India & China.
    • We also complete adoption home studies for Alabama Residents (regardless of international/domestic adoption)
  • Does COTW handle Domestic adoptions?
    • As an Alabama licensed agency, we are able to complete home studies for Alabama residents wishing to adopt domestically.
    • We can also provide ICPC assistance for our home study clients. We do not have a domestic adoption program.
  • What countries does COTW work in?
    • We are licensed to work in India and China
  • How long has COTW been working in India? In China?
    • We have had adoption programs in India and China since 1996.
  • Can you help me adopt from other countries?
  • Do you assist with relative adoptions?
    • No, unfortunately we cannot assist with relative adoptions. Regulations can be quite different for these types of adoptions. There are agencies that can help specifically with relative adoptions.
  • How many children will COTW place this year (2018) from India / China?
    • We anticipate 38 from India and 1 from China.
  • How many children has COTW placed in the past two years (2016-2017) from India / China?
    • 36 from India and 2 from China

the Cost of adoption

  • How much money does it cost to adopt a child from India? From China?
    • The average cost of an Indian adoption is $28-32,000. 
    • The average cost of a Chinese Adoption is $34-38,000.
  • Do I have to pay all of the adoption fees at one time?
    • No, adoption fees are paid over time, as you progress through the process. 
    • Families should have at least $5,000.00 ready to begin the process.
  • How can I get financial help for the adoption process?
    • Grants, low/no interest loans, fundraising platforms, employee benefits, & retirement plan borrowing are some of the options available to prospective adoptive families. 
    • Grants are a popular choice – but keep in mind that most grants are only available to applicants after they have an approved home study.
    • We have information listed on our website under “resources” to assist families in finding financial assistance for adoptions. But don’t stop there! Families are encouraged to research additional sources.

Who can adopt

  • Does COTW work with applicants that do not have U.S. citizenship? 
    • Single applicants must have U.S. Citizenship (either by birth or naturalization).
    • Couples applying must have at least one parent with U.S. Citizenship (either by birth or naturalization)
  • Does COTW place children with single parents? 
  • Does COTW place children with same sex couples?
    • At this time, neither India nor China will allow same sex couples, or single homosexual applicants adopt.
  • What if I have been arrested previously?  Will this affect my approval for the adoption process?
    • Disclosing your entire arrest/criminal history to your adoption coordinator and social worker is very important. A minor arrest history may not prevent an applicant from being approved, but failure to disclose WILL prevent individuals/couples from being approved by US Immigration.
    • Please see the country-specific criteria for more information.
  • Are there specific health issues that could prevent me from adopting?
  • If I already have children in my home (either by birth or adoption), can I still adopt a child from India or China?
    • Yes, however there are country-specific criteria related to families with existing children.
    • India – single applicants may have 2 existing children; India makes a determination on a case by case basis for family size over 5 people (three children)
    • China – single applicants may have 2 existing children; Couples may have 5 existing children


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  • Do I get to choose my own child?
    • The India/China central authorities, provide licensed agencies with the opportunity to review the files of eligible children. The agency identifies a potential match, based on the family’s criteria, for the family to review and make a decision for themselves, with medical consultation.
    • We do not offer a “selection” of referrals for families to choose between.
  • Can I adopt more than one child at a time and is it more expensive?
    • Adopting more than one child at once is only possible for applicants wishing to adopt sibling groups (as long as all other criteria for the single/couple are met).
    • Additional fees do apply (approx. $10-15,000 more for each additional child).  However, there are savings when compared to the expense of 2 separate adoptions.
  • Does COTW only place children with special needs?
    • Yes. At this time, both India and China will only approve U.S. Citizens to be matched with special need referrals from their respective countries. 
    • *The only exception to this is for Indian applicants with OCI or couples with one U.S. Citizen and one Indian Citizen, wishing to adopt from India. 
  • Can I adopt an infant?
    • Though newborns are not available, we have had families accept a match of a child under 1 year of age. Please remember that in India, it can take 6 months or more after matching with a child before you travel. Additionally, there may be country-specific guidelines that determine the age of child you may be matched with. Please review the country-specific criteria for more specific information.
  • Can I request to only be matched with a healthy child – or one with only very minor special needs?
    • Yes and No.  Only in specific circumstances may Indian applicants/couples request a healthy Indian child. In all other circumstances, families/individuals may make the request for very minor special needs.  However, it is very important for applicants to understand that, just as with biological children, there are no guarantees. Additionally, adoptive parenting can present challenges not found in biological parenting.  Applicants should be aware of and prepare for these possibilities.
    • Please also keep in mind Children of the World cannot make any promises regarding length of time you may have to wait to be matched with a child that is “healthy” or with “very minor” special needs.

Children Available for Adoption

  • How long does the adoption process take? 
    • On average, the process to adopt from India or China takes anywhere from 18-24 months.  This can largely depend on the responsiveness of applicants during initial phases and on responsiveness of country officials in later phases.
    • India - from the completion of the home study until arrival home, the average is 11 months.
    • China – families often wait longer to be matched, but travel 3-5 months later.
    • But again, there is great variability based on a number of factors for both countries.
  • Can I begin working on my adoption before I meet all country minimum requirements? 
    • You may not apply with Children of the World until you meet all country minimum requirements. (This includes beginning to work on your home study before you meet all criteria). 
    • If you must wait – use this time to research and educate yourself.  Trust us – this will NOT be time wasted.
  • Can I apply to adopt from both countries (India and China) at the same time?
    • No
  • What if I get pregnant while in the adoption process? 
    • India - If you become pregnant during the adoption process, you will need to pause the process until 1 year after the child is born. 
    • China – If you become pregnant before you are matched with and have accepted a referral, you may need to pause the process until 3 years after the child is born.  Should you become pregnant after you have officially accepted your referral, completion of the adoption will be determined case-by-case with the CCCWA.
  • What if I or my spouse change jobs during the adoption process? 
    • Depending on what stage of the process you are in, your home study will need to be updated. Keep your adoption coordinator informed of any changes.
  • What if our family has to make a move during the adoption process?
    • Try, if at all possible to refrain from making any major changes until your adoption is complete. If you move, but remain in the same state, your home study will need to be updated and your social worker will need to visit your new home.  If you move to another state, a new home study provider will need to be enlisted to update your home study. Any updates to a home study will also need to be made known to US Immigration. This may incur additional charges from US Immigration. Keep your adoption coordinator informed of any potential changes so that they can advise you on how to proceed.
  • What if a family member or friend moves in with us or moves out of our home while in the adoption process?      
    • You will need to inform your adoption coordinator of these types of changes. Anyone living with you, for any length of time, during your adoption process must be documented in your home study report. This includes adults, children, missionaries, exchange students, live-in nannies, etc – anyone staying longer that a vacation.
    • If there are ANY changes to your household (even if temporary) your home study report must be updated (this will include having additional background clearances/evaluations/and interviews completed for adults and, at minimum medical evaluations, for children) and US Immigration must be notified.  This may incur additional charges from US Immigration.
  • What is a Dossier?
    • A dossier is a set of carefully prepared documents that will accompany your enrollment with your country’s central adoption authority (CARA for India and CCCWA for China).  The dossier is similar to a “portfolio”.  It is has very specific requirements, is “time-sensitive”, and must be authenticated.
  • Does COTW assist with the Dossier Authentication process?
    • Yes – we handle the entire dossier authentication process for our clients.
  • Does COTW assist with the US Immigration process?
    • Yes – we complete the US Immigration paperwork for our clients.  We have clients review for accuracy – but, we navigate the bulk of the process.
  • Do we have to travel to the country to pick up our child? Do both parents have to go?
    • Yes, you will be expected to travel to pick up your child.  Only in extreme circumstances will countries allow just 1 parent of couples to travel. 
  • Will we have a guide the entire time we are in-country?
    • You will have a guide for the majority of the time you are in-country. There might be times when individuals / couples are expected to make a plane ride, train ride, or other in-country journey without a personal guide.  Additionally, while in your child’s orphanage city – there might be limited resources to hire a “dedicated” guide the length of your stay.  Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to educate themselves, ahead of time, about international travel.
  • Will COTW make all of our travel arrangements?
    • Children of the World will make all necessary in-country appointments for embassy and child medical exams. Our adoption coordinators work very hard to prepare families for travel and organize all materials/paperwork you will need in-country.
    • In regards to flight and hotel arrangements, this will depend on your country.  At minimum, your adoption coordinator will provide you with recommendations and advice for making your travel arrangements.  In some cases (namely China) reservations and in-country transportation is closely regulated, and COTW will make arrangements for you.
  • Can our existing children or other family members travel with us?
    • We recommend that children under 13 yrs old remain home with a guardian while parents travel to India/China. There are so many key moments during travel that require adoptive parents’ full and undivided attention.
    • While we recommend that single adoptive parents enlist a close family member or friend to travel with them, we also caution that adult “guests” educate themselves on the importance of adoptive parent and child bonding early on.  Because of this, we often discourage other adult family members traveling with couples.

adoption process questions

  • What is a Home Study?
    • The home study is actually a 12-15 page report that, if approved, allows families to continue through the adoption process. Having an approved / completed home study is the first step for any adoption.  The home study process consists of prospective adoptive parents gathering all items needed (several background clearances, medical and mental health evaluations, documentation, certificates, and references) and meeting with an assigned social worker (in their home), who will then write the report. The process typically takes 90 days to complete.
  • I want to adopt from India/China with COTW, can COTW complete my home study?
    • If you are a resident of Alabama, COTW will complete your home study. If you are NOT a resident of Alabama, your COTW adoption coordinator will help you find a licensed home study provider in your state.
  • I am adopting domestically, can COTW complete my home study?
    • Yes – if you are a resident of Alabama. We can also assist with the ICPC process if needed.  But, please keep in mind – COTW does not have a domestic adoption program.
  • I am adopting internationally with another placing agency, can COTW complete my home study? 
    • Yes – if you are a resident of Alabama. Please contact our home study only coordinator here.
  • I already have a home study completed in my state, but it is not specifically for India/China. What can I do to change the format to India/China? Can COTW accept this home study with the appropriate changes?
    • Several factors will apply – is your home study for domestic or international adoption? How long ago was it completed, was your home study preparer licensed/accredited, etc?  We will do what we can to help minimize any additional steps.  Your adoption coordinator will let you know what needs to be done from a case by case basis.
  • I have already begun the process of a home study in my state, not knowing what country I would adopt from. Can COTW accept this home study? 
    • Your home study will need to be “country-specific”.  It is best to have COTW involved in the home study process as soon as possible to avoid lengthening your process with “re-do’s”.  **Additionally, some home study preparers have increased fees for changes made late in the home study process.
  • I’ve recently adopted, & we’ve now moved to Alabama. Can COTW provide post placement services for me?    
    • Yes! Welcome to Alabama.  Please contact our home study only coordinator here.

home study process


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  • Does COTW have an established relationship with the Central Adoption Authority of India (CARA)?
    • Yes, COTW is licensed by CARA and has had a positive, well established relationship for many years.
  • Does COTW only place special needs children from India?
    • CARA guidelines allow for Indian born applicants to request to be matched with a healthy referral.  All other applicants will be matched with a child with special needs.  Please see our special needs grid here – for a list of common special needs.  
  • Has COTW had any disruptions from India? How many and why?
    • Yes, we have had 2. In both cases the child’s initial reaction to the mother was not positive and the adoptive parent(s) feared this would not change/improve with time. We were able to re-place the children involved in these cases into already approved families. Their adjustments have been very positive.
  • Does COTW work with Indian couples that live in the U.S.?
    • Yes, if at least one prospective adoptive parent is a US citizen. (either by birth or naturalization)
  • Do Indian couples living in the U.S. get preferential treatment with CARA regarding adopting an Indian child?      
    • We do not believe Indian couples receive preferential treatment.  However, applicants who were born in India do have the ability to request to be matched with only a healthy child.  Couples/Individuals making this request are likely to experience an increase in wait time for a referral.
  • Does COTW handle relative adoptions from India?
    • No, we do not.
  • What age child can I adopt?
    • The minimum age difference between the parent (youngest parent, for couples) and the child is 25 yrs.
    • Single applicants 46 – 50 yrs may adopt a child 4 yrs or older. 
    • Single Applicants 51 – 55 yrs may adopt a child 8 yrs or older.
    • For couples, CARA will examine your combined age, at registration to determine the minimum age child you are eligible to adopt.
    • Couples with a combined age at registration of 91-100 may adopt a child 4yrs or older.
    • Couples with a combined age at registration of 101-110 may adopt a child 8yrs or older.
  • When am I registered with CARA?
    • Applicants are registered with CARA after COTW receives a finalized approved home study report from the social worker / home study provider & the registration documents from the applicant(s). 
  • How many trips to India will I be asked to make?
    • Traditionally, prospective adoptive parents will make 1 trip to India (avg of 10 days).  Recently, we are finding that more and more families are being asked to make a second, earlier, trip to appear for the adoption court hearing. 
    • When making the decision to apply for our India adoption program, please make sure you understand the REQUIREMENT of a second trip is a possibility.
  • Will I have to go to court in India to appear before a judge?
    • This is a possibility.  We are seeing more and more judges request families appear for adoption court hearings. Please keep in mind that this request is typically motivated by the magistrate’s desire to ensure he/she is ruling in the best interest of the child.
  • Does COTW allow prospective adoptive parents to foster their child in India at the appropriate time?
    • Typically, no. Fostering is not a decision to be made lightly. Prospective adoptive families must understand the risks and significant amount of time this type of extended travel demands of the COTW staff and resources.  In VERY special circumstances fostering in India is allowed – but, only when it is approved in advance by the orphanage and approved by our Director of International Programs. 
  • Can we take an extra trip to meet / visit our child before the adoption is finalized?
    • Only after ____________ and if the visit is approved by your orphanage. 

india specific questions

  • Does COTW have an established relationship with the Central Adoption Authority of China (CCCWA)?
    • Yes, COTW is licensed by CCCWA and has had a positive, well established relationship for many years.
  • Does COTW only place special needs children from China?
    • Yes, at this time the CCCWA only approves special needs referrals to be matched with foreign adopting applicants.
  • Does COTW handle relative adoptions from China?
    • No, we do not.
  • What age child can I adopt?
    • The maximum age range between the parent (or oldest parent in the case of a couple adopting) must be no more than 50 years.  At this time the average age range for referrals is 18 months to 4yrs old.
  • How many trips to China will I be asked to make?
    • One trip (14 days long).
  • I’ve read about recent changes to the Adoption Process in China.  How do these changes effect prospective adoptive families?
    • In 2017 the CCCWA announced two important changes to their policies: 1) They have terminated the “One-to-One Program, Journey of Hope Program, and Summer/Winter Hosting Program” 2) They have terminated the required orphanage donation fee.
    • The ending of previous programs has created the opportunity for more agencies to advocate for special needs children in China, and we are hopeful more children will be available for agencies to match / refer.  Eliminating the required orphanage donation will reduce the overall cost for Chinese adoptions.  However, the donation is now voluntary, and some families may choose to continue with previous amounts.
    • In 2018 the US department of state provided guidance on the practice of agencies issuing “soft referrals”. Soft referrals are the ‘holding’ of a child for a prospective adoptive parent that does not have a current/approved home study.  Under the new guidance, this practice would no longer be allowed.  Children of the World did not participate in the practice of “soft referrals”.  So, this new guidance does not affect our families.

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china specific questions

How do I begin the process of adopting with COTW?

  • Have you closely examined the minimum criteria to adopt?
  • Have you talked with other adoptive parents to hear their stories (positive and negative) of intercountry adoption?
  • Are you patient enough to make it through the “unknowns and delays” of this process?
  • Do you have the next 90 days to focus on the tasks of completing & gathering the necessary paperwork for the home study and dossier?
  • Are you financially ready to begin this process (you will be required to come up with approx. $35,000.00 in the next 12-18 months)
  • Do you have a good support system within our family or church to lean on when things get tough?


Then please click the adoption inquiry / request link below to provide COTW with information needed to begin the initial process.

Ask a Question

Do you have a specific question that you do not see answered on this page? Click here to send your question to our agency, and we will be happy to respond!


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