Children of the World is a full service, nonprofit agency licensed by the state of Alabama to place children in adoptive homes.
At Children of the World, we believe it is the birthright of every child to be in a loving family and nurturing home, and we seek to restore this birthright to children who are abandoned or orphaned by uniting them with adoptive parents.
Children of the World is one of the few intercountry adoption service providers in the state of Alabama that is Hague Accredited by The Council on Accreditation (COA), an accrediting entity designated by the US Department of State. Based in Fairhope, AL, Children of the World has matched more than 2,000 children with loving families over the past 20 years.
As Children of the World carries out its mission, the staff and the board are constantly inspired by the life and work of its founder, Pat Lee. Endearingly referred to as "Miss Pat" or "Grandma Pat" by many of her clients, she is the heart and soul behind the agency.
We, at Children of the World, seek at all times to capture her vision and emulate her spirit.
When God speaks to Pat Lee, He often uses one phrase: "Be still." When she's patient, she has learned God will lead her in the right direction, and to the right people, to accomplish anything she sets her mind on.
She heard Him say that for the first time in the early 1970s, when she felt God was calling her and her husband, Jim, to adopt. They already had four children of their own that she calls "homemade" but she knew she was meant to adopt a five-year-old boy, even though she had no idea where to start.
Pat first contacted the Department of Human Resources and hand-carried her application to them, but she was told that, as a stay-at-home mom with four children, she wasn't a good candidate.
Someone in her prayer group mentioned Catholic Social Services, and although according to Pat, "they were as nice as they could be," they could only promise a newborn baby and Pat was determined to find a five-year-old boy.
That's when she heard God tell her, "Be still."
And sure enough, she got a call from the woman she'd spoken to at Catholic Social Services who told her she might try international adoption and if she could figure out how to do it, their agency would do the social work for her.
For her efforts, Pat was rewarded with not only the child she was looking for, but his sister, as well, from Vietnam.
After that, Pat was hooked on international adoption. "Once you start, it's hard to quit," she said. In addition to Ann and Bryan, she eventually adopted Mary Beth and Emily from India, Katie from Korea, and raised Conlee from the time she was 11 until she went to college for a total of 10 children.
Soon, she started traveling and doing relief work, and in 1996 she started her own nonprofit adoption agency, Children of the World, which was first housed in a closet at Fairhope United Methodist Church. Since then, the agency has placed more than 2,000 children in loving homes all over the United States.
Pat has never forgotten how she had to navigate the adoption process on her own. That is why she is committed to making the time-consuming and sometimes overwhelming process of dealing with paperwork and meeting requirements of three separate government entities as simple as possible. "I want my families to be so prepared," she said. Not only does she help them every step of the way, she personally provides 24-hour-a-day support.
"When they adopt from Children of the World, they become family. I want to know my families, who they are, their circumstances. I want to be there for them."
Pat remains humble about her accomplishments over the years, giving all the credit to God. But for the thousands of lives she has touched, the petite "Miss Pat" is a symbolic figure who represents hope: the hope of a child abandoned in an orphanage, waiting for parents to choose him or her; and the hope of parents who want to grow their family, and have unlimited amounts of love to give. "I never dreamed I'd be doing any of this," she said.
Though she has done so much good in the world, Pat does not seek any recognition for it. The stacks of Christmas cards she receives every year are thanks enough.