Iowa Surrogacy Laws


Iowa case law and statutes implicitly permit surrogacy. In the 2018 case P.M. v. T.B., the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that gestational surrogacy contracts are enforceable, being consistent with the aforementioned statutes. The court stated its support of surrogacy, saying that “gestational surrogacy agreements promote families by enabling infertile couples to raise their own children and help bring new life into this world through willing surrogate mothers.”

Gestational surrogacy is also allowed on the basis of the Iowa Administrative Code (Section 641-99.15), which outlines the process for how Vital Records should issue birth certificates to children born by gestational carriers. 

Traditional surrogacy is decriminalized in Iowa under Code 710.11.

Types of Surrogacy Available in Iowa

Can a parentage order be obtained for the following?

Gestational surrogacy:


Altruistic surrogacy:


Traditional surrogacy:

YES, Although traditional surrogacy is not prohibited in Iowa, most attorneys and agencies strongly advise against the practice given the increased emotional and legal risks involved.

 Traditional surrogacy cases may require additional steps to establish parentage; while an Intended Parent may be able to obtain a parentage order if they are genetically connected to the child, the second Intended Parent who does not have a genetic connection to the child can only establish parentage via a second parent adoption.


Who can be declared as the parent(s) of a child from a surrogate via a court parentage order?

💚 – Both Intended Parent(s) can be named on the parentage order

💛 – Only a genetic Intended Parent can be named on the parentage order. A non-genetic Intended Parent will need to establish parentage via a second or stepparent adoption following birth.

A genetic connection to the child is required for an Intended Parent to receive a pre-birth court parentage order and only the genetic Intended Father can obtain a pre-birth order. All parties (Intended Parents, Gestational Carrier and Spouse) are involved in the pre- and post-birth process regardless of the genetic connections. For heterosexual couples and same-sex male couples, the non-genetic parent must establish parentage via a second-parent adoption. For the second-parent adoption, a hearing will be required, but it is possible to request a remote hearing.

Although it isn’t necessary for Intended Parents to be married for the genetic parent to be added to the birth certificate through a pre-birth or post-birth order, a second-parent adoption is not possible for unmarried couples in the state of Iowa. For unmarried couples without a genetic connection for both parents, 2nd parent adoption proceedings will need to take place in the Intended Parent’s home state or country of origin for the non-genetically related parent.

How are Intended Parent(s) Listed on the Birth Certificate?

Intended Parent(s) may be listed as Father-Mother, Parent-Parent, or Father or Mother.

If donor gametes are used, the non-genetic parent can’t be placed on the birth certificate until the necessary adoption proceedings are finalized.

Rights of Egg or Sperm Donor(s)

In Iowa, there are no statutes or case law that address the rights of a sperm, egg, or embryo donor over the gametes or resulting child.

Surrogacy Steps in Iowa

Surrogacy Process in Iowa

Select your agency if applicable

Match with a gestational carrier

Complete medical and psychological evaluations

Select attorney and complete legal contract

Begin IVF cycle with surrogate

Pre-birth order

Proceedings begin after the first trimester


Post-birth order & birth certificate finalization

Iowa requires a post-birth order along with a pre-birth order to establish parentage

Birth Certificate finalized after post-birth order

Birth Certificate Timeline

Birth certificate

3-4 weeks

Non-genetic Intended Parents(s) are not listed on initial birth certificate; the non-genetic parent must establish parentage via adoption, and until the adoption is finalized, only the genetic Intended Parent is named.

Legal and medical steps involved in the surrogacy process may differ from case to case. Please speak with your agency and attorneys about how the process might look for you.

Court Processes

Surrogacy Contracts

Gestational surrogacy contracts in Iowa are recognized and enforceable. The enforceability of traditional surrogacy cases is uncertain, given the genetic connection between the surrogate and the child. Intended Parent(s) interested in learning more about traditional surrogacy should speak to an experienced Iowa attorney.

Independent Counsel

Independent counsel is strongly recommended, but not required, for all parties involved in a surrogacy agreement.

Requirements for Surrogates and Intended Parent(s)

Iowa has no statutory requirements that must be met for surrogates and Intended Parent(s) to participate in a surrogacy agreement. However, agencies and fertility clinics have their own requirements based on the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys

Birth Orders

Do courts issue pre-birth orders?


Do courts issue post-birth orders?


Are hearings required to obtain either pre- or post-birth orders

NO, but may vary by judge

Both pre- and post-birth orders are required to establish parentage in Iowa, with the pre-birth order establishing the Intended Father’s rights and the post-birth order establishing rights for the other Intended Parent. It should be noted that under Iowa law, the gestational carrier is presumed to be the legal mother of a child. Therefore, Intended Mothers are unable to obtain pre-birth orders and can only establish parental rights in a post-birth order or second-parent adoption.

Bases of Venue

What are the bases of venue?

County where child is born; county where Gestational Carrier lives

Do rulings vary by venue?


Can you file a motion to waive venue?


International Issues

International Intended Parent(s) may have additional legal steps to complete upon their return home. It is recommended that the Intended Parent(s) speak with an experienced attorney in their home country about their situation. The law of more than one country will need to be considered if the Intended Parent(s) are citizens or residents of more than one country. 

Residency Requirements

Does Iowa have any residency requirements for out-of-state or International Intended Parents?


Birth Certificates

Can an international same-sex male couple receive an initial birth certificate naming the biological father and Gestational Carrier?


Can an international same-sex male couple obtain an initial birth certificate naming only the biological father?


Can they obtain a subsequent birth certificate naming only the Intended Parent(s) with no mention of the Gestational Carrier?


Passport Timeline

6-8 weeks after submitting birth certificate.

Passports can be expedited for a 2-3 week delivery with an extra fee. Intended Parent(s) can also visit a regional passport agency to receive one within 1-2 business days.

Passports are regulated at the federal level in the United States. To learn more about the process of receiving a US passport, visit Travel.State.gov.

Consulting Attorneys

Sarah E. Wilson
Sarah Wilson Law
PO Box 377
Ankeny, Iowa 50021

Assisted with 2023 Revisions

Emily Gehling
Dakota Surrogacy
101 S Reid St #307
Sioux Falls, SD 57103
(605) 937-8920

Alice Eastman Helle
666 Grand Avenue Suite 2000
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 242-2407

Legal Disclaimer

The content contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only. Content contained herein may or may not reflect the most current legal information on the subject; accordingly, this website is not promised to be correct or complete at any given time. Outcomes referenced should not be interpreted as an indication of future outcomes. Love & Kindness Surrogacy explicitly disclaims all liability for actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this website.

This website does not constitute a replacement for legal advice or counsel. Always consult an attorney before beginning the surrogacy process.

Last updated September 2023