Accessing Adoption Records

Looking for help locating family members, or getting information about them?

According to Chapter 600, Adoption, in the Code of Iowa, adult adoptees may receive medical and developmental family history provided the names of birth parents are not released. They may also petition the court to open their sealed record and reveal information for "good cause".
The Legislature amended the Code of Iowa to make access to sealed adoption records easier for adult adoptees that were adopted prior to the July 1, 1941 sealing of adoption records. When you complete the Affidavit Requesting Opening of Sealed Adoption Records, indicate the date of adoption. If you were adopted prior to July 1, 1941, indicate on the affidavit that Iowa Law does not require you to provide "good cause". This amendment of Chapter 600, Termination of Parental Rights and Adoption, should expedite the process for you.
Records compiled prior to the 1960?s were not as complete as they are now. The information you receive may not answer all the questions you have about your biological history. The records may include opinions, values, moral beliefs, racial comments and other insensitive comments dictated by the child or family?s worker. Current practice does not allow social workers to inflict their values, morals, or beliefs into a narrative regarding a child or a family. Only factual information should be included. Also, past testing mechanisms were not as accurate as they are currently. An IQ test may have concluded that a child had an IQ of 75-80 (border line). Children have proven the tests inaccurate. Some children who have tested "low" have been very successful in life?s endeavors. I warn adoptees whose adoption was finalized many years ago to try not to be upset by information that may be in the record, especially if the information borders on, or is opinion, beliefs, etc. of the person writing it and not fact.
Effective July 1, 1999, Iowa law enables adoptees, their "birth parents," and their blood-related brothers and sisters to find each other if the birth is registered with the State of Iowa. The "Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry" was established in order to match those persons requesting that their identity be revealed to registrants "matching" information concerning an adult adoptee. All information provided to the registry is confidential and revealed only in the event that an appropriate match is made and the parties have been notified of the match. A $25 fee in U.S. funds and a certified copy of the applicant?s birth certificate must be submitted with each consent application.
Application forms are available at the address listed below or at the County Registrars of Vital Records. Locally, county registrars are located in the county recorder?s office, either in the county courthouse or county administration office building.
Adult adoptees, birth parents and relatives can receive more detailed information about the process by contacting the Department at 515-281-4174.
If you do not know the county where the child?s adoption was finalized, you may complete an "Application For Revelation of County of Adoption" which can be found at the address listed below:
         Bureau of Vital Records
         Iowa Department of Public Health 
         Lucas Office Building, 1st Floor
         Des Moines, IA 50319