Iowa Adoption Code

600.3 Commencement of adoption action---jurisdiction---forum non conveniens.


An action for the adoption of any natural person shall be commenced by the filing of an adoption petition, as prescribed in section 600.5, in the court of the county in which an adult person to be adopted is domiciled or resides, or in the court of the county in which the guardian of a minor person to be adopted or the petitioner is domiciled or resides.
An adoption petition shall not be filed until a termination of parental rights has been accomplished except in the following cases:
  1. No termination of parental rights is required if the person to be adopted is an adult.
  2. If the stepparent of the child to be adopted is the adoption petitioner, the parent-child relationship between the child and the parent who is not the spouse of the petitioner may be terminated as part of the adoption proceeding by the filing of that parent's consent to the adoption.
For the purposes of this subsection, a consent to adopt recognized by the courts of another jurisdiction in the United States and obtained from a resident of that jurisdiction shall be accepted in this state in lieu of a termination of parental rights proceeding.
Any adoption proceeding pending on or completed prior to July 1, 1978, is hereby legalized and validated to the extent that it is consistent with this subsection.
If upon filing of the adoption petition or at any later time in the adoption action the court finds that in the interest of substantial justice the adoption action should be conducted in another court, it may transfer, stay, or dismiss the adoption action on any conditions that are just.

600.4 Qualifications to file adoption petition.


1.Any person who may adopt may file an adoption petition under section 600.3. The following persons may adopt:
  1. An unmarried adult.
  2. Husband and wife together.
  3. 2. A husband or wife separately if the person to be adopted is not the other spouse and if the adopting spouse:

600.5 Contents of an adoption petition.

1.An adoption petition shall be signed and verified by the petitioner, shall be filed with the court designated in section 600.3, and shall state:
  1. The name, as it appears on the birth certificate or in a verified birth record or as it appears as a result of marriage, and the residence or domicile of the person to be adopted.
  2. The date and place of birth of the person to be adopted.
  3. Any new name requested to be given the person to be adopted.
  4. The name, residence, and domicile of any guardian or custodian of the person to be adopted and the name, residence, and domicile of that person's guardian ad litem if one is appointed for the adoption proceedings.
  5. The name, residence, and domicile of the petitioner, if this is not required to be stated under subsection 4 of this section, and the date or expected date on which the person to be adopted, if a minor, began or will begin living with the petitioner.
  6. The name, residence, and domicile of any parent of the person to be adopted.
  7. A designation of the particular provision in section 600.4 under which the petitioner is qualified to adopt and, if under section 600.4, subsection 3, paragraph "c", a request that the court approve the petitioner's qualification to adopt.
  8. A description and estimate of the value of any property owned by or held for the person to be adopted.
  9. A description of the facilities and resources, including those provided under a subsidy agreement pursuant to sections 600.17 to 600.22, that the petitioner is willing and able to supply for the nurture and care of any minor person to be adopted.
  10. When and where termination of parental rights pertaining to the person to be adopted has occurred, if termination was required under section 600.3.

600.6 Attachments to an adoption petition.

An adoption petition shall have attached to it the following:
  1. A certified copy of the birth certificate showing parentage of the person to be adopted or, if such certificate is not available, a verified birth record.
  2. A copy of any order terminating parental rights with respect to the person to be adopted.
  3. Any written consent and verified statement required under section 600.7, except the consent required under subsection 1, paragraph "d", of that section.
  4. Any preplacement investigation report that has been prepared at the time of filing pursuant to section 600.8.
  5. An adoption information form completed by the petitioner containing the data specified under federal regulations adopted pursuant to Pub. L. No. 99-509, as codified in 42 U.S.C. 679 and 679A.

600.7 Consents to the adoption.

1. An adoption petition shall not be granted unless the following persons consent to the adoption or unless the court makes a determination under subsection 4:

600.8 Placement investigations and reports.

1. A preplacement investigation shall be directed to and a report of this investigation shall answer the following:
  1. Whether the home of the prospective adoption petitioner is a suitable one for the placement of a minor person to be adopted.
  2. How the prospective adoption petitioner's emotional maturity, finances, health, relationships, and any other relevant factor may affect the petitioner's ability to accept, care, and provide a minor person to be adopted with an adequate environment as that person matures.
  3. Whether the prospective adoption petitioner has been convicted of a crime under a law of any state or has a record of founded child abuse.
A postplacement investigation and a report of this investigation shall:
  1. Verify the allegations of the adoption petition and its attachments and of the report of expenditures required under section 600.9.
  2. Evaluate the progress of the placement of the minor person to be adopted.
  3. Determine whether adoption by the adoption petitioner may be in the best interests of the minor person to be adopted.
A background information investigation and a report of this investigation shall not disclose the identity of the biological parents of the minor person to be adopted and shall answer the following:
  1. What is the complete family medical history of the person to be adopted, including any known genetic, metabolic, or familial disorders?
  2. What is the complete medical and developmental history of the person to be adopted?
A preplacement investigation and report of the investigation shall be completed and the prospective adoption petitioner approved for a placement by the person making the investigation prior to any agency or independent placement of a minor person in thepetitioner's home in anticipation of an ensuing adoption. A report of a preplacement investigation that has approved a prospective adoption petitioner for a placement shall not authorize placement of a minor person with that petitioner after one year from the date of the report's issuance. However, if the prospective adoption petitioner is a relative within the fourth degree of consanguinity who has assumed custody of a minor person to be adopted, a preplacement investigation of this petitioner and a report of the investigation maybe completed at a time established by the court or may be waived as provided in subsection 12.
The person making the investigation shall not approve a prospective adoption petitioner pursuant to subsection 1, paragraph "a",subparagraph (3) unless an evaluation has been made which considers the nature and seriousness of the crime or founded abuse in elation to the adoption, the time elapsed since the commission of the crime or founded abuse, the circumstances under which the crime or founded abuse was committed, the degree of rehabilitation, and the number of crimes or founded abuse committed by the person involved.
If the person making the investigation does not approve a prospective adoption petitioner under paragraph "a" of this subsection, the person investigated may appeal the disapproval as a contested case to the director of human services. Judicial review of any adverse decision by the director may be sought pursuant to chapter 17A.
3. The department, an agency or an investigator shall conduct all investigations and reports required under subsection 2 of this section.
A postplacement investigation and a background information investigation and the reports of these investigations shall be completed and the reports filed with the court prior to the holding of the adoption hearing prescribed in section 600.12. Upon the filing of an adoption petition pursuant to section 600.5, the court shall immediately appoint the department, an agency, or an investigator to conduct and complete the postplacement and background information investigations and reports. In addition to filing the background information report with the court prior to the holding of the adoption hearing, the department, agency, or investigator appointed to conduct the background information investigation shall complete the background information investigation and report and furnish a copy to the adoption petitioner within thirty days after the filing of the adoption petition. Any person, including a juvenile court, who has gained relevant background information concerning a minor person subject to an adoption petition shall, upon request, fully co-operate with the conducting of the background information investigation and report by disclosing any relevant background information, whether contained in sealed records or not.
Any person conducting an investigation under subsections 3 and 4 may, in the investigation or subsequent report, include, utilize, or rely upon any reports, studies, or examinations to the extent they are relevant.
Any person conducting an investigation under subsections 3 and 4 may charge a fee which does not exceed the reasonable cost of the services rendered and which is based on a sliding scale schedule relating to the investigated person's ability to pay.
Any investigation or report required under this section shall not apply when the person to be adopted is an adult or when the prospective adoption petitioner or adoption petitioner is a stepparent of the person to be adopted. However, in the case of a stepparent adoption, the court, upon the request of an interested person or on its own motion stating the reasons therefor of record, may order an investigation or report pursuant to this section.
Any person designated to make an investigation and report under this section may request an agency or state agency, within or outside this state, to conduct a portion of the investigation or the report, as may be appropriate, and to file a supplemental report of such investigation or report with the court. In the case of the adoption of a minor person by a person domiciled or residing in any other jurisdiction of the United States, any investigation or report required under this section which has been conducted pursuant to the standards of that other jurisdiction shall be recognized in this state.
The department may investigate, on its own initiative or on order of the court, any placement made or adoption petition filed under this chapter or chapter 600A and may report its resulting recommendation to the court.
The department or an agency or investigator may conduct any investigations required for an interstate or interagency placement.Any interstate investigations or placements shall follow the procedures and regulations under the interstate compact on the placement of children. Such investigations and placements shall be in compliance with the laws of the states involved.
Any person who assists in or impedes the placement or adoption of a minor person in violation of the provisions of this section shall be, upon conviction, guilty of a simple misdemeanor.
Any investigation and report required under subsection 1 of this section may be waived by the court if the adoption petitioner is related within the fourth degree of consanguinity to the person to be adopted.

600.9 Report of expenditures.

A biological parent shall not receive any thing of value as a result of the biological parent's child or former child being placed with and adopted by another person, unless that thing of value is an allowable expense under subsection 2.
Any person assisting in any way with the placement or adoption of a minor person shall not charge a fee which is more than usual,necessary, and commensurate with the services rendered.
If the biological parent receives any prohibited thing of value, if a person gives a prohibited thing of value, or if a person charges a prohibited fee under this subsection, the person is guilty of a simple misdemeanor.
An adoption petitioner of a minor person shall file with the court, prior to the adoption hearing, a full accounting of all disbursements of any thing of value paid or agreed to be paid by or on behalf of the petitioner in connection with the petitioned adoption. This accounting shall be made by a report prescribed by the court and shall be signed and verified by the petitioner. Only expenses incurred in connection with the following and any other expenses approved by the court are allowable:
All payments for allowable expenses shall be made to the provider, if applicable, and not directly to the biological parents. The provisions of this subsection do not apply in a stepparent adoption. 600.10 Minimum residence of a minor child.
The adoption of a minor person shall not be decreed until that person has lived with the adoption petitioner for a minimum residence period of one hundred eighty days. However, the court may waive this period if the adoption petitioner is a stepparent or related to the minor person within the fourth degree of consanguinity or may shorten this period upon good cause shown when the court is satisfied that the adoption petitioner and the person to be adopted are suited to each other.

600.11 Notice of adoption hearing.

The court shall set the time and place of the adoption hearing prescribed in section 600.12 upon application of the petitioner. The court may continue the adoption hearing if the notice prescribed in subsections 2 and 3 is given, except that such notice shall only be given at least ten days prior to the date which has been set for the continuation of the adoption hearing.
At least twenty days before the adoption hearing, a copy of the petition and its attachments and a notice of the adoption hearing shall be given by the adoption petitioner to:
Nothing in this subsection shall require the petitioner to give notice to self or to petitioner's spouse. A duplicate copy of the petition and its attachments shall be mailed to the department by the clerk of court at the time the petition is filed.
A notice of the adoption hearing shall state the time, place, and purpose of the hearing and shall be served in accordance with rule of civil procedure 56.1. Proof of the giving of notice shall be filed with the court prior to the adoption hearing. Acceptance of service by the party being given notice shall satisfy the requirements of this subsection.

600.12 Adoption hearing.


An adoption hearing shall be conducted informally as a hearing in equity. The hearing shall be reported.
Only those persons notified under section 600.11 and their witnesses and legal counsel or persons requested by the court to be present shall be admitted to the court chambers while an adoption hearing is being conducted. The adoption petitioner and the person to be adopted shall be present at the hearing, unless the presence of either is excused by the court.
Any person admitted to the hearing shall be heard and allowed to present evidence upon request and according to the manner in which the court conducts the hearing.

600.13 Adoption decrees.

At the conclusion of the adoption hearing, the court shall:
An interlocutory adoption decree automatically becomes a final adoption decree at a date specified by the court in the interlocutory adoption decree, which date shall not be less than one hundred eighty days nor more than three hundred sixty days from the date the interlocutory decree is issued. However, an interlocutory adoption decree may be vacated prior to the date specified for it to become final. Also, the court may provide in the interlocutory adoption decree for further observation, investigation, and report of the conditions of and the relationships between the adoption petitioner and the person petitioned to be adopted.
If an interlocutory adoption decree is vacated under subsection 2, it shall be void from the date of issuance and the rights, duties, and liabilities of all persons affected by it shall, unless they have become vested, be governed accordingly. Upon vacation of an interlocutory adoption decree, the court shall proceed under the provisions of subsection 1, paragraph "c".
A final adoption decree terminates any parental rights, except those of a spouse of the adoption petitioner, existing at the time of its issuance and establishes the parent-child relationship between the adoption petitioner and the person petitioned to be adopted. Unless otherwise specified by law, such parent-child relationship shall be deemed to have been created at the birth of the child.
An interlocutory or a final adoption decree shall be entered with the clerk of the court. Such decree shall set forth any facts of the adoption petition which have been proven to the satisfaction of the court and any other facts considered to be relevant by the court and shall grant the adoption petition. If so designated in the adoption decree, the name of the adopted person shall be changed by issuance of that decree. The clerk of the court shall, within thirty days of issuance, deliver one certified copy of any adoption decree to the petitioner, one copy of any adoption decree to the department and any agency or person making an independent placement who placed a minor person for adoption, and one certification of adoption as prescribed in section 144.19 to the state registrar of vital statistics. Upon receipt of the certification, the state registrar shall prepare a new birth certificate pursuant to section 144.23 and deliver to the parents named in the decree and any adult person adopted by the decree a copy of the new birth certificate. The parents shall pay the fee prescribed in section 144.46. If the person adopted was born outside the state, the state registrar shall forward the certification of adoption to the appropriate agency in the state or foreign nation of birth. A copy of any interlocutory adoption decree vacation shall be delivered and another birth certificate shall be prepared in the same manner as a certification of adoption is delivered and the birth certificate was originally prepared.
The clerk of the district court shall attach to the certified copy of the decree delivered to the department, a copy of the adoption information form required to be attached to the adoption petition under section 600.6, subsection 5.

600.14 Appeal---rules.


An appeal from any final order or decree rendered under this chapter or chapter 600A shall be taken in the same manner as an appeal is taken from a final judgment under the rules of civil procedure. However, a rule of civil procedure provision regarding a minimum amount of value in controversy shall not bar an adoption appeal. The supreme court shall review an adoption appeal de novo.
The supreme court may adopt rules which provide for the expediting of contested cases under this chapter and chapter 600A.

600.15 Foreign and international adoptions.


1. a. A decree establishing a parent-child relationship by adoption which is issued pursuant to due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction in the United States shall be recognized in this state.
b. A decree terminating a parent-child relationship which is issued pursuant to due process of law by a court of any other jurisdiction in the United States shall be recognized in this state.
c. A document approved by the immigration and naturalization service of the United States department of justice shall be accepted by the department of human services as evidence of termination of parental rights in a jurisdiction outside the United States and recognized in this state.
2. If an adoption has occurred in the minor person's country of origin, a further adoption must occur in the state where the adopting parents reside in accordance with the adoption laws of that state.
3. The department may provide necessary assistance to an eligible citizen of Iowa who desires to, in accordance with the immigration laws of the United States, make an international adoption. For any such assistance the department may charge a fee which does not exceed the reasonable cost of services rendered and which is based on a sliding scale relating to the investigated person's ability to pay.
4. Any rules of the department relating to placement of a minor child for adoption which are more restrictive than comparable rules of agencies making international placements and laws of the United States shall not be enforced by the department in an international adoption.

600.16 Adoption record---penalty for violations.


1. Any information compiled under section 600.8, subsection 1, paragraph "c", subparagraphs (1) and (2), relating to medical and developmental histories shall be made available at any time by the clerk of court, the department, or any agency which made the placement to:
2. Information regarding an adopted person's existing medical and developmental history and family medical history, which meets the definition of background information in section 600.8, subsection 1, paragraph "c", shall be made available as provided in subsection 1.However, the identity of the adopted person's biological parents shall not be disclosed.
3. The provisions of this section also apply to information collected pursuant to section 600A.4, pertaining to the family medical history,medical and developmental history, and social history of the person to be adopted.
4. Any person other than the adopting parents or the adopted person, who discloses information in violation of this section, is guilty of a simple misdemeanor for the first offense, a serious misdemeanor for a second offense, and an aggravated misdemeanor for a third or subsequent offense.

600.16A Termination and adoption records closed--- exceptions---penalty


1. The permanent termination of parental rights record of the juvenile court under chapter 600A and the permanent adoption record of the juvenile court or court shall be sealed by the clerk of the juvenile court or the clerk of court, as appropriate, when they are complete and after the time for appeal has expired.
2. All papers and records pertaining to a termination of parental rights under chapter 600A and to an adoption shall not be open to inspection and the identity of the biological parents of an adopted person shall not be revealed except under any of the following circumstances:
  1. A biological parent may file an affidavit requesting that the court reveal or not reveal the parent's identity. The court shall consider any such affidavit in determining whether there is good cause to order opening of the records. To facilitate the biological parents in filing an affidavit, the department shall, upon request of a biological parent, provide the biological parent with an adoption information packet containing an affidavit for completion and filing with the court.
  2. If the adopted person who applies for revelation of the biological parents' identity has a sibling who is a minor and who has been adopted by the same parents, the court may deny the application on the grounds that revelation to the applicant may also indirectly and harmfully permit the same revelation to the applicant's minor sibling.
3. In addition to other procedures by which adoption records may be opened under this section, if both of the following conditions are met, the department, the clerk of court, or the agency which made the placement shall open the adoption record for inspection and shall reveal the identity of the biological parents to the adult adopted child or the identity of the adult adopted child to the biological parents:
A person who has placed in the adoption record written consent pursuant to paragraph "a" or "b" of this subsection may withdraw the consent at any time by placing a written withdrawal of consent statement in the adoption record.
Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, if the adult adopted person has a sibling who is a minor and who has also been adopted by the same parents, the department, the clerk of court, or the agency which made the placement may deny the request of either the adult adopted person or the biological parent to open the adoption records and to reveal the identities of the parties pending determination by the court that there is good cause to open the records pursuant to subsection 2.
4. An adopted person whose adoption became final prior to July 4, 1941, and whose adoption record was not required to be sealed at the time when the adoption record was completed, shall not be required to show good cause for an order opening the adoption record under this subsection, provided that the court shall consider any affidavit filed under this subsection.
5. Any person, other than the adopting parents or the adopted person, who discloses information in violation of this section, is guilty of a simple misdemeanor.

600.17 Financial assistance.


The department of human services shall, within the limits of funds appropriated to the department of human services and any gifts or grants received by the department for this purpose, provide financial assistance to any person who adopts a physically or mentally handicapped, older, or otherwise hard-to-place child, if the adoptive parent has the capability of providing a suitable home for the child but the need for special services or the costs of maintenance are beyond the economic resources of the adoptive parent.
  1. Financial assistance shall not be provided when the special services are available free of cost to the adoptive parent or are covered by an insurance policy of the adoptive parent.
  2. "Special services" means any medical, dental, therapeutic, educational, or other similar service or appliance required by an adopted child by reason of a mental or physical handicap.

600.18 Determination of assistance.


Any prospective adoptive parent desiring financial assistance shall state this fact in the petition for adoption. The department of human services shall investigate the person petitioning for adoption and the child and shall file with the court a statement of whether the department will provide assistance as provided in sections 600.17 to 600.22, the estimated amount, extent, and duration of assistance, and any other information the court may order.
If the department of human services is unable to determine that an insurance policy will cover the costs of special services, it shall proceed as if no policy existed, for the purpose of determining eligibility to receive assistance. The department shall, to the amount of financial assistance given, be subrogated to the rights of the adoptive parent in the insurance contract.

600.19 Amount of assistance.


The amount of financial assistance for maintenance shall not exceed the amount the department would normally spend for foster care of the child. The amount of financial assistance for special services shall not exceed the amount the department would normally spend if it were to provide these services.

600.20 Availability of assistance.

Financial assistance shall be available only if the child to be adopted was under the guardianship of the state, county, or a licensed child-placing agency immediately prior to adoption. The one-hundred-eighty-day period of residence in the proposed home required in section 600.10 shall not apply to this section.

600.21 Termination of assistance.


Financial assistance shall terminate when the need for assistance no longer exists. Financial assistance shall not extend beyond the adopted child's twenty-first birthday.

600.24 Access to records.


The department may allow access to adoption records held by the department or an agency if all of the following conditions are met:
  1. The identity of the biological parents of the adopted person is concealed from the person gaining access to the records.
  2. The person gaining access to the records uses them solely for the purposes of conducting a legitimate medical research project or of treating a patient in a medical facility.

633.223 Effect of adoption.


1. Except as provided in subsection 3, a lawful adoption extinguishes the right of intestate succession of an adopted person from and through the adopted person's biological parents. The adopted person inherits from and through the adoptive parents in the same manner as a biological child inherits from and through the child's biological parents.
2. Except as provided in subsection 3, a lawful adoption extinguishes the right of intestate succession of a biological parent from and through the parent's biological child who is adopted. The adoptive parents inherit from and through the adopted person in the same manner as biological parents inherit from and through the parents' biological child.
3. An adoption of a person by the spouse or surviving spouse of a biological parent has no effect on the relationship for inheritance purposes between the adopted person and that biological parent or biological parent's heirs. An adoption of a person by the spouse or surviving spouse of a biological parent after the death of the other biological parent has no effect on the relationship for inheritance purposes between the adopted person and the deceased biological parent's heirs.
4. A person inherits through an adopted person, an adoptive parent, or a biological parent of an adopted person only if the adopted person, adoptive parent, or biological parent of an adopted person would have inherited under subsection 1, 2, or 3.