Adoptions in Iowa Include Enforceable Surrogacy Contracts

Regan Wilson, Dickinson Law Firm, Iowa Family Law, Des Moines Iowa

Posted on 03/07/2018 at 11:35 AM by Regan Conder

As a family law attorney, one of the most rewarding roles I have is serving as legal counsel in adoptions. From step-parent adoptions to private adoptions to interstate adoptions, I have assisted many families in becoming legally established as a family unit. Although private adoptions or step-parent adoptions have historically been more common, the advancement of reproductive technology has brought more adoptions involving surrogacy contracts to Iowa’s courthouses. Unfortunately, legislation is not drafted overnight and oftentimes, there are no straight answers as to how Iowa judges will handle certain issues, such as whether to enforce surrogacy contracts.

Prior to February 16, 2018, Iowa law was primarily silent with regard to surrogacy contracts. In 1989, the Iowa criminal code implied surrogacy contracts were acceptable by refusing to prosecute individuals for selling babies if the transaction involved a surrogacy contract. However, other than some administrative code references, that was about the extent to which Iowa law addressed surrogacy contracts.

Fortunately, on February 16, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court had the opportunity to decide whether surrogacy contracts should be enforceable in its case titled, In re P.M. and C.M. v. T.B. and D.B. [“In re P.M. and C.M.”]. In this landmark decision, the court was confronted with two sets of parents asserting custodial rights to a newborn baby. In In Re P.M. and C.M., the surrogate mother underwent in vitro fertilization where the prospective father’s sperm and an egg from an anonymous donor were implanted in the surrogate. Unfortunately, it was not long after the procedure occurred that relations between the surrogate parents and the prospective parents deteriorated and the surrogate mother decided to renege on the parties’ contract. Without delving too far into the Court’s thirty-eight page opinion, the Iowa Supreme Court ultimately found in favor of the prospective parents and found that Iowa law supported the enforcement of surrogacy contracts and that surrogacy contracts do not violate public policy.

In a world where science and technology continue to transform the traditional nuclear family unit, there will certainly be other instances where Iowans will play the waiting game with regard to how Iowa courts will handle family law matters. For now, we can celebrate the fact that Iowa has officially recognized the enforceability of surrogacy contracts. If you’d like more information on surrogacy contracts or adoptions, feel free to contact Regan Conder at

The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed. 

- Regan Conder

Categories: Family Law, Regan Conder


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