Through stepparent adoption, a spouse of one of the child's biological parents is able to adopt the child. Even though the entire process is similar to other forms of adoption, certain aspects make stepparent adoption distinct. According to the most recent statistics from the Child Welfare League of America, 1,017 children were legally adopted through a public child welfare agency in Iowa in 2015.

If you live in Iowa and you're considering adopting your stepchild or want to understand the stepparent adoption process, consulting with an experienced Iowa adoption attorney is important for proper guidance. At the Olberding Law Office, I'm dedicated to offering knowledgeable and experienced legal guidance in legal matters of adoption. I'm available to discuss your personal situation, help you understand your legal options, and guide you through the entire stepparent adoption process. I can offer you the support and advocacy you need to ensure that your adoption is as smooth as possible.

My firm, Olberding Law Office, proudly serves clients throughout Nevada, Iowa, and the surrounding communities of Story County, Boone County, Marshall County, Hardin County, and Hamilton County.


A stepparent adoption can be described as a situation in which a stepparent adopts their current spouse's child. For instance, if a woman who has a child remarries, her new husband may decide to adopt the new spouse's child through stepparent adoption. Some of the benefits of adopting your stepchild include:

  • Stepparent adoption allows you to have all of the legal rights and responsibilities of the child's biological parent.
  • Formalizing the relationship provides love, care, security, comfort, and a sense of belonging to both the stepchild and the stepparent.
  • Stepparent adoption allows you to make key decisions on behalf of your stepchild regarding school, healthcare, religion, and other essential life issues.
  • Through a stepparent adoption, you can demonstrate or establish your continued dedication to your stepchild.
  • Stepparent adoption also helps limit the influence of a difficult or problematic biological parent.


Terminating the non-custodial parent's rights relinquishes the parental rights of the non-custodial parent. Therefore, he or she may not be able to make any decision for the child nor have the right to visitation or parenting time. This can be done voluntarily or involuntarily.


Non-custodial parent's rights can be terminated voluntarily when the non-custodial parent agrees to it. If the custodial parent remarries and the new spouse is willing to assume legal custody and parental rights of the child, the non-custodial parent may voluntarily terminate their parental rights. The non-custodial parent will complete the necessary paperwork or request the judge to terminate their parental rights, allowing the stepparent adoption to take place.


Involuntary termination of the non-custodial parent's rights occurs when the other parent or a family member files a petition in court for the parent's rights to be terminated. Some grounds for involuntary termination include:

  • Severe child abuse or neglect
  • Intentionally refusing to comply with a child support order
  • Sexual misconduct or abuse
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
  • Child abandonment
  • Long-term mental issues or deficiency of the parent
  • Long-term drug addiction or alcoholism issues
  • Failure to provide financial support to the child's needs
  • Failure to maintain contact with the child
  • One parent was imprisoned for more than five years
  • One parent was convicted of a felony sex offense against a minor


Stepparent adoption in Iowa is typically quite straightforward and less complicated compared to other types of adoption. In order to adopt your stepchild in the state of Iowa, here are some important steps to take:

  • Determine the role and involvement of the non-custodial parent with their child
  • Get consent from the non-custodial parent or file a petition to terminate the non-custodial parent's rights, where applicable
  • File an action for adoption with the court
  • Schedule a court hearing with a judge to legally finalize the stepparent adoption


Just like other kinds of adoption, a stepparent adoption requires the guidance and assistance of a knowledgeable adoption attorney to make sure that all aspects of the adoption are handled successfully and legally. When pursuing a stepparent adoption, it is important that you consult with an experienced Iowa family law attorney for detailed guidance.

At the Olberding Law Office, I have spent 30 years offering comprehensive legal counsel and advocacy to clients in stepparent adoption matters. As your legal counsel, I will enlighten you regarding your available options and offer you the comprehensive guidance you need throughout every step of the adoption. I will also help fill out the necessary paperwork, submit required documentation to the local courthouse, and ensure that all necessary state adoption laws are followed. Having me on your side can help improve your chances of a seamless, legal, and successful adoption.


If you're considering adopting your stepchild, contact my firm - Olberding Law Office - today to schedule a free consultation. I will offer you and your family the experienced legal guidance and advocacy you need to navigate important decisions. My firm is proud to represent clients throughout Nevada, Story County, Boone County, Marshall County, Hardin County, and Hamilton County, Iowa.