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Iowa Adoption Laws: Ultimate Resource

Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Iowa that you become familiar with Iowa adoption laws.

Iowa adoption laws are in place to protect the birth parents, the prospective adoptive parents, and the child being adopted. You will want to find an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer who is very knowledgeable in the Iowa adoption laws.

We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Iowa involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.

With so many aspects of Iowa adoption laws and their corresponding policies, it is impossible to cover them all in one article. We will, however, dive into many facets of the adoption laws in Iowa.

You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Iowa, as laws and policies do change.

Can you adopt without a lawyer? How much do adoption attorneys cost? Learn all that and more by visiting Adoption Lawyers in Iowa: Do You Need an Adoption Attorney? where we also give you step-by-step instructions on how to vet an adoption lawyer.

Adoption Requirements in Iowa

  • Must be 21 years of age or older.

  • One may rent or own.

  • One may be single or married.

  • LGBT couples may adopt.

  • A background check is required.

It is common knowledge that adoption is costly, but that is not to be confused with a false expectation that a prospective parent should be well off financially. Financial security is important and expected when applying to adopt a child, yet being upper class is not one of those qualifications.

Financial security simply means that you can pay your bills, cover your rent or mortgage and that you have a reliable means of income and transportation. What matters most is that a child is loved, cared for, and kept safe and comfortable.

Learn more about adoption attorneys in our article What Does an Adoption Attorney Do? We Find Out.

Iowa Adoption Laws: 2021 Ultimate Resource
Iowa adoption laws.

Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Iowa put together for your convenience and is intended to be quicker to digest. For a complete listing of all adoption consent laws in their legal format and their entirety, visit Chapter 600-7: Consents to Adopt, courtesy of Justia Law.

It goes without saying that consent to adopt is a huge part of the adoption process. We may forget, however, that there is more involved than the birth mother’s consent.

Another aspect may come into play that you will want to keep in mind.

  • The adoptee who is 14 years of age or older must give their consent to the adoption. An exception to this would be if the child is mentally incompetent.

  • The presumed father has the right to consent to the adoption.
  • The agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished or which holds permanent custody and which has placed the adoptee for adoption.

Iowa Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption

Adoption assistance, otherwise known as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Iowa who suffer from physical, mental, and developmental challenges.

These children are at a heightened risk of health problems, learning disabilities, as well as mental health issues. Subsidized adoption assists adoptive families with medical access, special equipment, therapies, tutoring, and other support services.

In the US, about 90% of the children in foster care are eligible for adoption assistance.

Special Needs Eligibility in Iowa

A child with special needs may qualify for adoption assistance if the child meets one or more of the following circumstances, courtesy of NACAC.

  • Noted emotional, physical, or mental issues.

  • Siblings of three or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.

  • A child 5 years of age or older.

  • Due to underlining issues in the past, the child is likely to suffer emotional, physical, or mental struggles in the future.

Iowa Adoption Advertising Laws

Adoption advertising is defined as using a public medium to express an interest in adopting a child or sharing that a child is available for adoption either by print or electronically.

Common means of advertising include:

  • Newspapers
  • Periodicals
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Internet
  • Billboards
  • Printed Flyers

Upon reviewing the state statutes, this issue is not addressed. It would be best to seek an adoption lawyer or other licensed adoption representative to obtain their professional advice regarding adoption advertising in the state of Iowa.

Birth Parent Expenses in Iowa

In all states, no person or agency is allowed to accept payment for assisting, placing, or organizing the placement of a child, as this is illegal.

Chapter 600-9: Reports of Expenditures

According to Iowa’s state laws, an adoptive parent is allowed to pay for expenses directly related to childbirth, placing the child, and any legal costs concerning the adoption.

Care during pregnancy and medically necessary postpartum medical care may also be covered by the adoptive parents.

Other expenses that are allowed are the birth mother’s living expenses as well as costs for counseling.

It is generally required that the adoptive parents provide the courts with an itemized list of all expenses paid.

Accessing Adoption Records in Iowa

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 144.43A: Who May Access Information

In the state of Iowa, adult adoptees, adult siblings, or birth parents may request access to adoption records.

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 600.16: Access to Nonidentifying Information

Information such as medical, social, and psychological may be released to the requestor. However, information that would identify the birth parents shall be excluded from the report, unless an adoptee already knows the identity of the birth parents.

Adoption records may be provided by the local clerk of court, the Department of Public Health, or the
adoption service provider that made the placement to the following:

  • The adoptee who is 21 years of age or older

  • An approved representative of a medical research project or medical facility

  • The adopting parents

  • A descendant of an adoptee

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 144.43A: Mutual Access to Identifying Information

When a request has been made by the birth parents to know the identity of the adoption child, or when the adopted adult child requests identifying information about their birth parents, the State registrar will notify the parties that the request has been made and shall disclose the identifying information.

To be able to receive identifying information about an adoptee or the birth parents, the following criteria must apply:

  • A birth parent has requested information about the adoptee and has also given consent to disclose their own identity to the adult adoptee when or if the adult adoptee requests the same information about the birth parents.

  • An adult adoptee has requested information about the birth parents and has also given consent to disclose their own identity to the birth parents when or if the birth parents requests the same information about the adult adoptee.

  • If two siblings were adopted to two separate families, and if a minor sibling requests information about an adult adoptee sibling, the minor’s request will be denied.
    • Once the minor sibling is an adult, they may request identifying information about the other adopted sibling, providing the other party has made the same request.

  • A person who has filed a request or provided consent may change their mind at any time prior to the release of information by filing a written withdrawal of consent with the State registrar.

Courtesy of

Post Adoption Contact Laws in Iowa

Adoptive parents have a right to decide who has contact with their adopted child and when. Many times in an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth family have a mutual and informal agreement regarding contact with the adopted child.

Upon reviewing the state statutes, this issue is not addressed. It would be best to seek an adoption lawyer or other licensed adoption representative to obtain their professional advice regarding adoption advertising in the state of Iowa.

When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Iowa?

When your adoption is finalized, court proceedings should immediately include beginning the process of obtaining a new birth certificate for the adopted child that reflects the child’s new last name and adoptive parents.

Do not hesitate to ask your adoption attorney or adoption agency if you need to initiate that process, or if the courts will do that on your behalf.

DISCLAIMER: The above state law information is provided to our readers as a courtesy and is meant to help offer some insight as to what to expect during your adoption journey. This information is not meant to be viewed as legal advice. In addition, possible changes to state laws may have taken place since the publishing of this article in July 2021.

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Pros of Adoption