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Adoption Records in Iowa

Contents

DHS - Accessing Adoption Records: dhs.iowa.gov

Information

Over half of Americans have an adoption in their immediate family. Six out of every 10 Americans personally know an adopted person. Studies show that 8 out of every 10 adopted persons in America have looked for their biological families.

Most states have closed adoption records. Iowa is one of those states. If the adoption took place after July 4, 1941 the record is closed. Even though adoption records are closed in Iowa, there are laws that let people affected by adoption get information.

Adoptees (People Who Have Been Adopted)

If you are the adoptee and are 18 or older, you can tell the court to release personal information if a biological parent contacts the court. You do this by filing a written consent with the clerk of court in the county where you were adopted. There is no charge to file the consent. The law does not say what has to be in the consent. It is a good idea that it have at least:

  • your name, address and phone number
  • your birthday
  • that you are the person adopted in this case
  • the date you were adopted (if you do not know the exact date, the approximate date)
  • a statement that you give permission for the court to give the personal information to a biological parent who contacts the court
  • a statement that you request personal information from the record if a biological parent has filed a consent
  • the words "I certify under penalty of perjury and pursuant to the laws of the state of Iowa that the preceding is true and correct." (This means you swear that it has the right information and that it is true)
  • your signature and the date you sign it


If you do not know the county where the adoption happened, you can get that information for a fee. Contact the Iowa Department of Public Health's Bureau of Vital Records Adoption Registry Program. The address and telephone number are listed at the end of this article.

If a biological parent has filed a consent, the court will release the information. If you have a brother or sister that is adopted by the same parents and he or she is not 18 or older, the court will not release the information until they turn 18. You can also send a consent to the agency that handled the adoption if you know which agency it was.

The Iowa Department of Public Health also has a voluntary registry. It is called the "Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry." The registry is like the consent procedure. Both you and the biological parent or sibling register and provide personal information to the Department of Public Health. Mutual consent means all agree to allow the Department of Public Health to give their personal information to the other party.

The department has forms to sign up for the registry. There is also a fee to sign up. The fee is $25.00 to sign up. If you want to update the information, there is a $2.00 fee to do that. To get the form from the department you can write to the Department of Public Health Bureau of Vital Records Adoption Registry Program, listed at the end.

You will need a certified copy of your birth certificate. If you do not have one, you can get it from the Department of Public Health's Bureau of Vital Statistics, listed at the end of this article. There is a $10.00 fee.

The consent procedure and registry are "passive" ways to get information. This means that the court or the Department of Public Health will not look for a biological relative for you. They will just give you information if a biological parent has filed a consent or if a biological parent or sibling is on the registry. If you change your mind about either the consent or the registry, you can notify the court or the department in writing and they will not release the information.

You can also ask the court to open the record to you. You do this by filing a petition with the clerk of court in the county where you were adopted. You have to be an adult (over 18) to do this. You have to show the court competent medical evidence that the information is necessary to save your life or to prevent irreparable physical or mental harm to you or your children. The court must make every reasonable effort to prevent the identity of the biological parents from being released to you.

Biological Parents (Parents Whose Children Were Adopted by Someone Else)
Biological parents can request an adoption information packet when the adoption takes place. This packet has an affidavit for the biological parents. The affidavit tells the court whether or not he or she wants her information revealed if the adoptee asks for it. The adoptee cannot request the information until he or she is 18 or older.

After the adoption, the rights of biological parents are like the rights of adoptees. If you are a biological parent, you can write to the state public health department and find out the date and county of the adoption. When you know that information, you can file a written consent with the court. The consent for biological parents should have at least the following information:

  • your name, address and phone number
  • your child's birthday
  • that you are the biological parent
  • the date of the adoption
  • a statement that you agree to let the court release the information if your child contacts the court
  • a statement that you want information from the record if your child has filed a consent
  • the words "I certify under penalty of perjury and pursuant to the laws of the state of Iowa that the preceding is true and correct." (This means you swear that it has the right information and that it is true)
  • your signature and the date you sign it

You can also sign up for the Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry. The registry works the same way for biological parents as for adoptees. The fees are also the same.

Adoptive Parents (Parents Who Adopt a Child)
Parents who adopt a child can get limited information. If you are an adoptive parent you can get the date and place of the adoption by contacting the Iowa Department of Public Health's Bureau of Vital Records Adoption Registry Program. Their address and telephone number are at the end of this article.
You can ask the court to open the record. The court will only open the record for one of two reasons. The first is that you need the information to save the life of the adoptee. The other reason is that you need the information to prevent irreparable mental or physical injury to the adoptee.

Siblings (Brothers or Sister of an Adopted Person)
If you are over 18 and you think that you have a biological brother or sister who has been adopted, there are ways to ask for information. You can file an affidavit with the court where the person was adopted. The affidavit for siblings should have at least the following information:

  • your name, address and phone number
  • your brother or sister's birthday
  • that you are the person's biological brother or sister
  • the date of the adoption
  • a statement that you agree to let the court release the information if your brother or sister contacts the court
  • a statement that you want information from the record if your brother or sister has filed a consent
  • the words "I certify under penalty of perjury and pursuant to the laws of the state of Iowa that the preceding is true and correct." (This means you swear that it has the right information and that it is true)
  • your signature and the date you sign it

You can also sign up for the Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry. The registry works the same way for brothers and sisters of adopted persons as for the adoptees. The fees are also the same. If the adopted brother or sister is not 18 yet, the Department of Public Health will not release the information

Conclusion
The laws in Iowa are designed to help people who want information get it if their biological relative agrees. They are not set up to do searches for biological relatives. If you are looking for your biological relatives, they might be looking for you and using the law can help you find each other.
Most of the laws about getting information are still new. The registry and getting the date and place of adoption laws were only passed a few years ago. Since the laws are so new, if you have questions, you should contact a lawyer.

Addresses
To find out the date and place of adoption (adoptees and biological parents only) or to sign up for the Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry, write to or call:

Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Vital Records
Adoption Registry Program
Lucas State Office Building, First Floor
Des Moines IA 50319-0075
(515) 281-6263

To get a certified copy of a birth certificate:
Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Vital Records
Lucas State Office Building, First Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319-0075

You can also order by phone by calling: (515) 281-4944.

Last Review and Update: Mar 19, 2019
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