Adoption Records in Iowa

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid


State law regulates the adoption process, including how much information is available to an adoptee, adoptive parent(s), and the biological parent(s) after the adoption is finalized.

On May 19, 2021, Iowa signed a new law that changed the availability of information after an adoption is finalized. This new law can be found under Iowa Code Section 144.24A. Beginning on January 1, 2022, an adult adopted person (adult adoptee) may apply for and obtain a copy of their original birth certificate that was created before their adoption, which may have their biological parents’ information listed.

The written application must be signed in front of a notary, then mailed to the state registrar. Applicants should also mail payment of the $15.00 application fee and a copy of their current government-issued photo identification card, such as a driver’s license, along with the notarized application. The state registrar will then provide to the adult adoptee a copy of the original birth certificate, a contact preference form (if available), and/or a medical history form (if available).
The contact preference form is completed by a biological parent and explains whether the biological parent has a preference regarding contact by the adult adoptee. A biological parent has several options with respect to their preference for contact by the adopted person. Those options include:
1.    They would like to be contacted by the adoptee directly;
2.    They prefer to be contacted only if contact occurs through the third party named on the contact preference form;
3.    They do not want to be contacted, but their personally identifiable information may be released by request; or
4.    They do not want to be contacted and request that their personally identifiable information be redacted from the copy of the original birth certificate and contact preference form.

The medical history form is also completed by the biological parent and can provide the medical history of the biological parent and any blood relatives. The biological parent may complete or update the contact preference form and the medical history form at any time. Biological parents who want to remain anonymous should note that if they do not complete or update the contact preference form and the medical history form, the original birth certificate with their information may be released to an adult adoptee upon their request.

This application process is available to adult adoptees only and is not available to minors. The adult adoptee must have been born in Iowa to use this application process. If the adult adoptee is deceased, an entitled person may make an application on their behalf. An entitled person includes the spouse of a deceased adoptee or an adult related to the adoptee within the second degree of consanguinity. This means that a spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, and grandparents will qualify as an entitled person and can apply. In addition to providing the completed and notarized application, the application fee of $15.00, and the photo ID, the entitled person must also provide a certified copy of the adoptee’s death record with the application.

The application to receive a copy of an adoptee’s original birth certificate can be found here.

The notarized application, application fee of $15.00, copy of the applicant’s photo ID, and, if relevant, copy of the adult adoptee’s certified copy of the adoptee’s death record can be mailed to or dropped off at the following address:

Bureau of Health Statistics / IDPH
Lucas State Office Building
1st Floor, 321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075

More information can be found on the Health and Human Services website at


Last Review and Update: Nov 17, 2023
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