To ensure your adoption goes as smoothly as possible, it is important to follow all state adoption laws — but even understanding those laws can sometimes be confusing.
As your adoption professional, Nelson Law Firm can help guide you through each step of the adoption process and ensure you are in compliance with all Iowa adoption laws. Whether you are adopting or considering adoption for your child, we are committed to helping you complete the process safely and legally. By partnering with our experienced adoption attorneys, you never have to wonder whether your adoption is being handled correctly.
Here, learn more about some of the most important laws you should be aware of as you begin the Iowa adoption process.
How to Legally Adopt a Child in Iowa: Laws for Adoptive Families
For hopeful parents, state laws regulate nearly every aspect of the adoption process, from your eligibility to adopt to finalization procedures. By working with an experienced legal expert like Nelson Law Firm, you can ensure all of these laws are followed and your adoption is legally secure.
Our firm will help you understand and follow the basic laws to adopt in Iowa, including:
Meeting the Legal Requirements to Adopt
Every state has laws determining who is eligible to adopt. In Iowa, this law states that unmarried adults and married couples jointly, over the age of 18, are eligible to adopt.
While nearly any adult may be eligible to adopt in Iowa, most adoptive families will need a valid, approved home study before they can be matched with an adoption opportunity.
Completing the Adoption Home Study in Iowa
Unless you are adopting a stepchild or relative within the fourth degree, you will need to complete an adoption home study before a child can be placed in your home for adoption. Your home study must be updated annually to remain current.
The Iowa home study process includes face-to-face interviews with members of the adoptive family, as well as at least one home visit with the worker completing the study. In addition, fingerprinting, records checks, criminal record and child abuse registry checks will be performed for each adult in the home.
This process is meant to evaluate the adoptive parents and their home environment to ensure everyone in the family is truly safe and ready for adoption. The home study will not be approved if a prospective adoptive parents has been convicted of the following forcible felony offenses:
- Child endangerment, neglect or abandonment of a dependent person
- Domestic abuse
- A crime against a child
- A drug-related offense within the past five years
The home study must be completed by a licensed agency or certified adoption investigator in Iowa. If you need help finding an Iowa home study provider, Nelson Law Firm can refer you to a qualified professional for these services.
Birth Mother Living Expenses
State laws regulate the expenses that can be paid by adoptive families in connection to their adoption. In Iowa, prospective adoptive parents may make payments related to:
- The child’s birth
- Pregnancy, delivery and postpartum-related medical care
- Birth parent counseling costs
- Certain birth mother living expenses
In Iowa, allowable living expenses include room and board or rent and food, and transportation to and from medical appointments. Adoptive families may pay these living expenses during the prospective birth mother’s pregnancy and up to 30 days after her baby is born.
However, while birth mothers may receive this financial assistance throughout the adoption process, it is not legal to be “paid” in exchange for consent to adoption. If you have questions about allowable financial assistance in Iowa adoptions, contact Nelson Law Firm for additional information.
Finalizing Your Adoption in Iowa
Once a child has been placed with a family for adoption and the birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated, the adoptive family can begin the process to finalize their adoption.
If the adoption is being finalized in Iowa, Nelson Law Firm will file an adoption petition with the court to initiate the legal finalization process. The adoptive family will then need to complete three post-placement visits with an agency or certified investigator. These visits typically occur one, three and five months after placement.
Once the child has been in the adoptive home for at least 180 days, the adoptive parents and child will be required to attend a finalization hearing. The judge will review the adoption to ensure it is in compliance with all applicable laws (including ICPC for interstate adoptions) and will grant the final adoption decree, completing the legal adoption process.
Exact finalization procedures and requirements may vary depending on a number of factors, including your individual circumstances and the type of adoption you are completing. To learn more about finalization procedures or other legal processes for adoptive families in Iowa, contact Nelson Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.
How to Place a Baby for Adoption in Iowa: Laws for Birth Parents
If you are pregnant and considering adoption for your baby, it is important to understand your rights throughout the adoption process. Working with an experienced adoption attorney is often the best way to ensure your legal interests are being represented through each step of your adoption journey.
Nelson Law Firm can help you understand the laws and processes impacting birth parents in Iowa, including:
Legally Consenting to Termination of Parental Rights
Birth parents can sign a legal release of custody more than72 hours after the birth of their child. This Release must be given in writing and witnessed by two persons familiar with the parent-child relationship.
It is important to understand that until you sign a legal release of custody, nothing you do or say can legally obligate you to choose adoption for your baby. You can discontinue your adoption plan at any time during your pregnancy, and you may also revoke your consent for any reason within 96 hours of signing. After the 96-hour revocation period has passed, your release becomes final unless you can prove to the court that the release was signed under fraud, duress, coercion or misrepresentation.
If you are making an adoption plan for your baby, your attorney will ensure you understand your legal rights and guide you through the document-signing process when you are ready.
Understanding Birth Father Rights in Iowa
Before a baby can be legally placed for adoption, the rights of the birth parents, including the baby’s biological father, must be legally terminated.
If your baby’s father is known and supportive of your adoption plan, he may be involved throughout the adoption process and may voluntarily consent to have his parental rights legally terminated. If the father is uninvolved, unsupportive or unknown, Nelson Law Firm will help you understand his right to receive notice of termination of parental rights hearing and will take the necessary steps to attempt to locate and notify him.
If a putative father objects to the adoption and takes certain legal actions to prevent the adoption from moving forward, our attorneys can help you understand your legal options for proceeding with your adoption plan.
The rights and role of the baby’s birth father can vary based on a number of factors, including his relationship and involvement with you during your pregnancy. If you have questions about you baby’s father or your options for making an adoption plan with or without his support, Nelson Law Firm can provide the legal guidance and information you need.
Learn More About Iowa Adoption Laws
Adoption laws can be complicated, and the legal adoption process can vary significantly based on a number of factors. It is strongly recommended that every hopeful adoptive parent and expectant mother considering adoption consults with an attorney to ensure all aspects of the adoption process are handled safely and legally.
If you have questions about these or other important Iowa adoption laws, or if you would like to discuss your individual circumstances in more detail, you may contact Nelson Law Firm at any time to schedule a consultation.