All children deserve a loving, supporting household, and it's my goal to ensure everyone has the opportunity to adopt. My firm, Olberding Law Office, works with LGBT individuals and couples who would like to adopt and need guidance surrounding adoption law.

Choosing to adopt is a life-changing decision for you and your future child. In Iowa, approximately 27% of LGBT adults over the age of 25 are currently parents, and same-sex couples are seven times more likely to be raising an adoptive child. If you're hopeful about becoming a parent but would like guidance on the process, my experience as an adoption attorney can help make sense out of this huge endeavor. My office is in Nevada, Iowa, but I serve all clients in Story, Marshall, Boone, Hamilton, and Hardin counties.


Since 2009, under the Iowa Supreme Court ruling of Varnum v. Brien, LGBT individuals and couples have the right to foster and adopt in Iowa. There are three main types of adoption: a private adoption (usually of an infant), a foster care adoption (typically the foster parent will care for the child for a set period of time before adoption proceedings can begin), and international adoption. All these options are available to potential LGBT parents. Additionally, members of the LGBT community may adopt on their own or as part of a partnership.

LGBT individual: Any unmarried adult may petition for adoption in Iowa. There is no law that explicitly bars an LGBT individual from adopting, however, there is not yet a specific law protecting this right.

LGBT couple: LGBT couples have all the same rights as opposite-sex couples, though they must be in a legally recognized relationship such as marriage. Those in domestic partnerships may be able to adopt together, though it will depend on your specific jurisdiction.

Adoption of your partner's child:
Many same-sex couples can use this process if one parent is already the legal custodian of a child. The child may be from a previous relationship, or the couple may be using assisted reproductive technology to become pregnant and it's not possible for both partners to become parents at first. In the case of a child from a previous relationship, the non-custodial parent's rights must be terminated before a new parent can file for adoption.


Each jurisdiction will handle adoption a bit differently, but you can expect more or less the same process:

  1. Perform a home study
  2. Match with a child
  3. Biological parents' rights are ended
  4. Child is placed with the new parent(s) (In Iowa, the child must reside with the adoptive parents for 180 days.)
  5. Perform at least three post-placement visits
  6. Finalization hearing takes place

Additionally, many adoptive parents will pay certain expenses related to the adoption such as costs related to the pregnancy, delivery, birth, and postpartum care of the child, living expenses, counseling, and legal fees.


Prospective parents must go through a pre- and post-placement home study if they want to adopt a child. This process includes individual interviews with the hopeful parent or parents. In the interview, you'll be asked about your motivation to adopt, your ability to meet the child's needs, your approaches to discipline, your emotional stability, and available family support. You will also have at least one home visit and a background check. At least three personal references must attest to your competence to be a parent.


LGBT couples and individuals deserve equal access to becoming a parent, and Iowa has many laws in place to protect these rights. If you are in the LGBT community and want to adopt a child in or around Nevada, Iowa, call my office for experienced, reliable guidance. The process of adoption can be long and complex. Don't start the journey alone. Call today.