In this article...

In this article, we discuss recent changes to adoption laws in Iowa. We cover the following questions:  

  • Who can adopt a child in Iowa?
  • What are the types of adoption?
  • How long does the adoption process take?
  • How Much Does an Adoption Cost?
  • Do adoptions require a home study?
  • Can I pay for the birthing mother’s living expenses?
  • Termination of birth parent’s rights
  • Finalizing an adoption in Iowa

In this article, we discuss recent changes to adoption laws in Iowa. We cover the following questions:  

  • Who can adopt a child in Iowa?
  • What are the types of adoption?
  • How long does the adoption process take?
  • How Much Does an Adoption Cost?
  • Do adoptions require a home study?
  • Can I pay for the birthing mother’s living expenses?
  • Termination of birth parent’s rights
  • Finalizing an adoption in Iowa

Who can adopt a child in Iowa?

In Iowa, anyone 18 or older can legally adopt a child. Unlike some states, unmarried individuals can adopt children independently in addition to married couples. Married couples must adopt the child jointly (in other words, a married person cannot individually adopt a child).  

What are the types of adoption?

There are three basic types of adoption in Iowa, international adoption, foster care adoption and private domestic adoption. International adoptions is when the parents adopt a child from outside of the United States. Foster care adoption takes place when you are adopting a child from within the United States that is in a foster care facility. Finally, there are private domestic adoptions which are adoptions in the United States that are done through private agencies.  

How long does the adoption process take?

The entire adoption process in Iowa typically takes between six and nine months, though the process could take longer for international adoptions. Prior to a judge finalizing an adoption, the child must be in the home for at least 180 days.  

How Much Does An Adoption Cost?

The cost of adoption in Iowa varies greatly depending on which of the three adoption methods are pursued as each have different requirements, expenses and legal steps to complete. While it is impossible to accurately predict the cost of your adoption, the following are average adoption costs:

  • Private Infant Adoption: $37,000
  • Foster Care Adoption: $2,622
  • International Adoption: $42,000

Do adoptions require a home study?

Unless you are adopting a stepchild or a relative within the fourth degree, you will likely have to complete an adoption home study prior to adopting your child. This home study will need to be updated annually to remain current.

The process of home studies in Iowa is fairly straight forward. The study will be conducted by a licensed agency or certified adoption investigator in Iowa. There will be face to face interviews with members of the adopted family as well as a visit from a worker completing the study at the adopting parents’ home. Additionally, a thorough background check will be performed on every adult in the adopted family’s home including fingerprinting, record checks, criminal checks, child abuse registry checks.  

The goal of the home study is to evaluate the adoptive parents and their home to ensure that it is safe and ready for the child being adopted. The study will not clear the prospective adoptive parents if the parents have been convicted of child endangerment, neglect or abandonment of a dependent person, domestic abuse, a crime against a child or a drug related offense within the last five years.

Can I pay for the birthing mother’s living expenses?

In Iowa, prospective adoptive parents are limited to paying expenses related to:

  • The child’s birth;
  • The pregnancy, delivery and postpartum related medical care of the birthing mother;
  • The birth parent’s counseling; and
  • Certain birth mother living expenses.

In Iowa, the allowable living expenses are limited to room and board/rent, food and transportation to and from medical appointments. Adoptive families may pay for these expenses during the birth mother’s pregnancy and up to 30 days after the child is born.

It’s important to note here that, while birth mothers can receive the above financial assistance, it is illegal in Iowa to be paid in exchange for consent to adopt. The payments cannot be contingent upon the adoption of the child.  

Termination of birth parent’s rights in Iowa

Birth parents can sign a legal release of their parental rights 72 hours after the birth of their child. This release must be given in writing and have two people witnessing it that are familiar with the parent-child relationship. Until you sign this release, nothing you do or say can legally obligate you to choose adoption for the child. Prior to birth, you can discontinue your adoption plan at any time during your pregnancy. You can also revoke your consent for any reason within 96 hours of signing your release. After the 96 hour revocation period has expired, your release becomes final unless you can prove to a court that the release was signed under fraud, duress, coercion or misrepresentation.

Finalizing an adoption in Iowa

Once a child has been placed with the adopting parents and the birth parents’ rights have been terminated, the adoptive parents can finalize their adoption. In Iowa, this means an adoption petition will be filed with the court and the legal finalization process will begin. The adoptive family will need to complete three post placement visits with an agency or certified investigator. These occur typically one three and five months after placement.  

Once the child has been with the parents for 180 days, the adoptive parents and the child will attend a finalization hearing in court. The judge will review the adoption to ensure there is compliance with Iowa and federal law. The judge will then grand the final adoption decree, completing the legal process for adoption.

Posted 
April 13, 2021
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