Considering Adoption

Being pregnant does not necessarily mean you are ready to be a parent. Maybe you have thought about adoption but don't really know what is involved. Choosing an adoption plan for your baby takes courage and love. Making a plan for adoption is rarely easy. Is adoption the right choice for you and your baby? If you are not ready to be a parent, you can plan your baby's future through adoption. 

Adoption Questions to Consider

  • Am I willing to give the next 18 or more years of your life to love and be responsible for this child?
  • Am I willing to place concern for this child's welfare above my own?
  • Can I raise a child and still meet my own school, career and social needs?
  • Can I raise a child without having to depend on my family to take over for me?
  • Can I, right now, provide for my child's financial, emotional and physical needs?
  • Am I ready to be a parent myself?
  • Am I expecting my child to make my life happy and to love me?
  • Can I take care of my child's health and safety?

If you answer no to any of these questions, exploring the option of adoption is a loving choice for your child. You must make your decision based on what your life is like right now. Putting your baby's future first is important and difficult. It hurts to think that as much as you love your baby, you may not feel ready or able to provide the stable, secure home your baby needs.

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Types of Adoption in Iowa

Adoptions today are very different from the past. All adoptions completed in the State of Iowa must comply with Iowa law. Other than the legal requirements, there is no right or wrong way to make an adoption plan. As a birthparent, you may choose an open or closed adoption or something in between. You may choose the adoptive family or have your adoption professional choose an appropriate family for you, based on your wishes.

Open adoption - The birthparents and adoptive parents usually meet and share their complete identities both before and after the adoption. There may be ongoing visits between them after the adoption is completed.

Closed adoption - Neither the birthparents nor adoptive parents know each other, generally do not meet, and share no identifying information before or after the adoption. Closed adoptions offer more confidentiality.

Semi-open adoption - Usually birthparents and adoptive parents meet before the adoption on a first name basis with some type of ongoing information sharing through the agency or attorney after the adoption. Most adoptions are semi-open.

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Choosing an Adoption Agency in Iowa

Choosing an adoption agency is important in your decision process. Select the agency that can best meet your needs.

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Questions in Selecting an Adoption Agency

  • How long has the agency been in business as an adoption agency?
  • What services are provided before and after the adoption?
  • What costs of the adoption, if any, must you cover?
  • If important, does the agency place minority or biracial children and how many?
  • Does the agency complete open and closed adoptions? What are their views and experiences?
  • What is the availability and credibility of counseling?
  • Learn about the adoption plan, contract and decrees.
  • What is the procedure for learning about the health and stability of the adoptive family?

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Costs for Adoption Placement

Typically, there are no costs to the birthparents.

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Birthparent Rights in Iowa

Iowa adoption law applies to all adoptions in Iowa. Adoption involves permanently transferring your parental rights to an adoptive family. If the identity of the father is known, the father must consent to the adoption. It is your decision to carry the pregnancy to term and have the baby. When your baby is born, the birthfather has rights and responsibilities. It is against the law to misidentify the other parent. As part of the adoption proceedings, the biological parents' rights must be terminated. The process is voluntary and private. Adoptive parents assume these rights and are responsible for the child. When a child is adopted, the birthparents are no longer responsible for their child. Their rights and obligations end. The law requires the medical and social history be obtained from each parent. A waiting period of 72 hours (3 days) is required after the birth of your child.

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Can I Change My Mind About Adoption?

The adoption decision is yours. You should never feel pressured or forced. You have the final decision. In Iowa you cannot sign a "release of custody" until at least 72 hours after your baby's birth. After you sign a release, you have 96 hours to change your mind.

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Adoption Records in Iowa

Once a formal adoption has been finalized, the records of the adoption are sealed to maintain the anonymity of the birthparents and adoptive parents.

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Adoptive Parents in Iowa

Birth parents are encouraged to be involved in selecting the adoptive family. Adoptive families are screened as part of the adoption process.

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Other Adoption Resources

For information, questions and to make a complaint about an adoption agency, contact Deb Dixon at 515-281-4081 or

Deb Dixon
Department of Inspections & Appeals
Health Facilities Division
Lucas Building, 3rd Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319

For information and questions about adoption and adoption agencies, contact Tracey Parker at 515-281-5358 or

For inquiries about adoption and adoption agency concerns and complaints, contact the Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 888.777.4590.

Iowa Department of Justice
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
1305 East Walnut
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Toll-free: 888.777.4590
Fax: 515.281.6771

For inquiries about adoption agency concerns and complaints, contact the Iowa Better Business Bureau toll free at 800-222-1600.

Iowa Better Business Bureau
505 5th Avenue, Suite 950
Des Moines, IA 50309-2375
515.243.8137, 24-hour automated system
Toll free: 800.222.1600
Fax: 515.243.2227

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Licensed Adoption Agencies in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Human Services licenses and maintains a complete list of adoption agencies in the State of Iowa.

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Pregnancy and family planning is complicated and full of emotional decisions. Contact Venus Family Planning, a service of VNS of Iowa, for help.

(515) 558-9609
Three convenient central Iowa locations

Learn more about your birth control options at