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Iowa Surrogacy Law Overview

The Center for Surrogate Parenting walks you through Iowa surrogacy law

Surrogacy is a beautiful family-building method. However, it can be complex, especially when it comes to the laws surrounding it. Thankfully, our experienced surrogacy agency is well-versed in the surrogacy laws of each state, including Iowa surrogacy law. In fact, the Center for Surrogate Parenting (CSP) has completed several finalizations of parental rights in this state.

As the oldest surrogacy agency in the world, we have helped U.S. and international parents to welcome healthy babies with help from U.S. surrogates. We are proud to say that we have never experienced issues with intended parents being able to bring their babies home.

To help you learn more about Iowa surrogacy law and how to create a surrogacy contract, we’ve included some basic information below. You can also contact us for more information.

    • Is a surrogacy contract valid and enforceable?

      Surrogacy is implicitly permitted in Iowa based upon the state’s case law and statutory law.

    • Does the state have surrogacy laws and/or case law?

      Iowa statutes permit surrogacy and detail the specific steps that Vital Records must take in issuing birth certificates to children born to surrogates. Case law has also upheld the validity of surrogacy.

    • Are the courts typically favorable or unfavorable towards surrogacy arrangements?

      Iowa courts are usually favorable towards surrogacy arrangements.

    • Is commercial surrogacy legal?

      Commercial surrogacy is legal in Iowa and the intended parents are permitted to compensate the surrogate for her time and expenses. Such compensation is typically arranged for in a surrogacy contract.

    • Is traditional surrogacy permitted?


    • Is gestational surrogacy allowed?


    • What are the requirements for an enforceable surrogacy contract?

      Since Iowa does not have a statutory rule on this, there is not a specific set of guidelines for when an Iowa judge may uphold the validity of a surrogacy arrangement. Parties should articulate their intentions, desires, roles and responsibilities as clearly and specifically as possible to provide proper framework for dispute resolution should an issue arise.

      Additionally, the intended parents and the surrogate (and her spouse, if applicable) should have independent legal counsel and the surrogate should meet specific requirements. The agreement should also include provisions that discuss the legal, financial and contractual rights, expectations, penalties and obligations of the surrogacy agreement.

    • Can both intended parents be declared the legal parents?

      No. Since the state only grants partial pre-birth orders to intended fathers who are genetically related to the child, any intended mother or non-genetic intended father will always be required to complete a post-birth adoption or parentage order to secure their parental rights.

    • Are pre-birth and post-birth orders permitted?

      Pre-birth and post-birth orders are permitted. However, only partial pre-birth parentage orders are permitted in Iowa because the state statutorily presumes that the woman who gave birth to the child is the mother of that child. Therefore, a pre-birth order is only available to intended fathers (not mothers) who are biologically related to the child. This requires a two-step process for intended mothers or other non-genetic intended parents to establish their parental rights.

      A non-genetic intended parent (father or mother) must complete a post-birth adoption process to secure his or her parental rights, while a genetically related intended mother may file for a post-birth parentage order. Intended parents will also need to terminate the surrogate’s and her husband’s (if applicable) parental rights.

      Typically, post-birth parentage orders are only available to intended mothers who are genetically related to the child.

    • Will the state honor a pre-birth order issued by another state?

      Maybe, particularly if the pre-birth order complies with the Iowa Administrative Code and contains all necessary information as determined by Iowa Vital Records.

    • What do intended parents need to know about getting the baby’s birth certificate?

      The intended parents will receive the baby’s birth certificate within several weeks. Same-sex parents will be listed as Father-Mother, Parent-Parent or Father or Mother.

      International gay couples can obtain an initial birth certificate that names the biological father and gestational carrier. They can subsequently obtain a birth certificate that names the biological father or both fathers only, with no mention of the gestational carrier, after completing a second-parent adoption.

    • Are post-birth adoptions permitted?

      Yes. An intended parent who is not genetically related to the child will need to complete a post-birth adoption to secure parental rights. Neither a second parent nor a stepparent adoption requires the formalities of a full Iowa adoption, for example, a home study is not required for either.

    • Are second-parent adoptions permitted?

      Yes, and they are available to unmarried couples.

    • Are stepparent adoptions permitted?

      Yes, and they are available to married couples.

VorzimerMasserman Disclaimer: This is a summary for informational use only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. Please note that the state laws regarding surrogacy frequently change and vary from county to county. The attorneys of VorzimerMasserman are only licensed in California. VorzimerMasserman shall not be responsible for any liability associated with this list.