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The Iowa Adoption Process Explained

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
December 5, 2019

In this article we explain the adoption process in Iowa.  Adoption in Iowa is governed by Iowa Code Chapter 600. We address the following:

  • What are the different types of adoption in Iowa?
  • What are the steps to adopting in Iowa?
  • What are the adoption requirements in Iowa?
  • How to terminate a biological parent’s parental rights in Iowa?
  • How to finalize an adoption in Iowa. 

What are the different types of adoption in Iowa

An adoption is a process that establishes a legally recognized parent-child relationship. In Iowa, there are three basic types of adoption.

  • Private domestic adoption — Adopting through a private agency in the United States (typically an infant)
  • Foster care adoption — Adopting a child from the foster care system in the United States
  • International adoption — Adopting a child from another country

What are the steps to adopting in Iowa?

Every adoption process in Iowa will vary based on the type of adoption taking place. However, the following steps are typical, though not necessarily in this order:

  • A home study is completed;
  • A child is located;
  • Rights of biological parents are terminated;
  • Child is placed in new home;
  • Post-placement home study is completed;
  • Adoption hearing is held; and
  • Adoption is finalized.

What are the Adoption Requirements in Iowa?

Every state has unique requirements to adopt and/or be adopted. The adoption requirements in Iowa are as follows.

Who is eligible to adopt in Iowa?

Iowa law requires adopters, married or unmarried, to be over 18 years of age. Most adults are eligible to adopt if they have a current approved home study on file. A home study includes interviews with all members of a potential adopting family, a home visit, fingerprinting, record checks, criminal background checks, and child abuse registry checks.

Who is eligible to be adopted in Iowa?

Any person may be adopted in Iowa, including those over the age of 18. Any person 14 years or older must provide consent to be adopted.

How to terminate biological parents’ parental rights in Iowa

Before the adoption process for a minor can move forward, the biological parents’ parental rights must be terminated. Only a judge can terminate these rights.

In the case of a foster care adoption of an infant, Iowa requires a waiting period before birth parents can sign a voluntary release of their parental rights after the child is born. Once the release has been signed, there is another waiting period in which the biological parents can change their mind. But with a signed voluntary release and the proper legal documents, the motion to terminate parental rights can be brought before a judge.

How to finalize an adoption in Iowa

Once the birth parents’ parental rights have been legally terminated, a child can be placed with the adoptive family. The next step in the finalization process is to file an adoption petition with the court.

The adoptive family must pass three post-placement visits with an agency or certified investigator. Once a child has been with their adoptive family for at least 180 days, a finalization hearing can take place. The legal adoption process is complete once a judge has reviewed the case and confirms the adoption compliant with all applicable laws.

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What are the different types of adoption in Iowa

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