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Understanding Iowa’s adoption laws

People wishing to adopt a child in Iowa will be delighted to learn that Iowa has quite liberal adoption laws. Nevertheless, the adoption process is a lengthy one and requires a good deal of investigation to determine if the prospective adoptive parent(s) is or are ready to adequately provide for a child.

As FindLaw explains, in Iowa, virtually any person can adopt virtually any other person, although prospective adoptees over the age of 14 must consent to the adoption. In addition, prospective adoptees must live in the adoptive home for at least 180 days before the adoption becomes final. Under certain circumstances, however, the applicant can obtain a waiver of this residency requirement if such waiver is in the child’s best interests.

As for prospective adoptive parents, they can be adults of any age and single, married or divorced. If a married couple, either heterosexual or same-sex, wishes to adopt a child through the Iowa Human Services Department, both spouses must join in the adoption process. Should one spouse wish to adopt separately, however, (s)he can do so under certain circumstances. Some private adoption agencies, such as American Adoptions, place children only with couples married for at least two years

Home study

The main criterion for adoption is an extensive home study conducted by either the state or a private agency depending on which adoption process the prospective parent(s) choose(s). (S)he must provide numerous documents including the following:

  • Birth certificate; driver’s license and proof of insurance; and, if applicable, marriage certificate, divorce decree and green card
  • Financial documents such as tax returns, pay stubs, etc.
  • Statement(s) from health care provider(s) as to the applicant’s physical and mental health
  • List of from three to five people, including contact information, the applicant wishes to use as references
  • Autobiographical statement outlining the applicant’s background and why (s)he wants to adopt

The home study includes a criminal background check and a complete inspection of the applicant’s home to make sure it is safe for a child. In addition, each household member will be interviewed. Once the applicant successfully completes the home study, his or her adoption application proceeds to court for finalization of the process.

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