Iowa adoption laws


A single or married couple jointly. A married individual without his or her spouse if the adopting spouse is the stepparent, separated from his or her spouse, or unable to consent to the adoption by reason of a prolonged or unexplained absence, incapacity, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable unwillingness to consent.

Can LGBT families adopt? Yes, same-sex couples can petition for joint adoption.


Can adoptive parents advertise for birth parents? Yes.

Can out-of-state residents finalize an adoption? Yes.

Can adopting parents use an adoption facilitator or another paid intermediary? Not addressed in state statutes.

What birth parent expenses may be paid, and in what time period? Pregnancy-related medical care, living expenses for the mother in an amount not to exceed the cost of room and board and transportation for medical purposes, and counseling. Living expenses, no longer than 30 days after birth. Counseling expenses, no longer than 60 days after birth.

Is there a putative father registry? Yes.

When can consent to adoption be granted? The Release of Custody can’t be signed less than 72 hours after birth.

 When does consent become irrevocable? If consent is revoked, is return to birth parent automatic? After signing, the birth parent has 96 hours to change his/her mind for any reason. If the birth parent wishes to object after the 96 hour period, he/she must appear at the final termination hearing and prove that signing was under duress, misrepresentation and/or fraud. If the consent is revoked within the 96 hour period, return automatic. If the birth parent objects after the 96 hour deadline, child could remain with the guardian/custodian until the Court determines whether parental rights are terminated.

Are post-adoption contact agreements legally enforceable? Not addressed in state statutes.


Is a foreign adoption decree automatically recognized by the state? Yes, if the decree is by a court following due process of law.

Can parents readopt in this state? Is it mandatory? Not addressed in state statutes.

When will a U.S. birth certificate be issued? Determined by the Dept. of Public Health.


Are adoption subsidies available? When do they start and how long do they last? Yes, adoption subsidies are available for a special needs child as defined by one of the following: 8 years or older if white, 2 years or older if of minority race, ethnic group, or multiracial parentage, member of a sibling group of 3 or more, medical needs that require special treatment, professional diagnosis or at risk of an impairing psychiatric, behavioral, or emotional condition. Child must be in the custody of the state of Iowa or a Iowa-licensed child-placing agency. Starts upon placement or finalization.

Where can I learn more about the process of adopting a child from foster care in Iowa?

Hoover State Office Building, 5th Floor
1305 East Walnut Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319
(800) 243-0756