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State-by-State Surrogacy Laws: Surrogacy in Iowa

Iowa’s state laws permit Gestational Surrogacy and Iowa’s court system recognizes and tends to rule favorably with respect to surrogacy arrangements. In fact, in Iowa, surrogacy contracts are considered enforceable by statute which makes Iowa on the more surrogacy-friendly end of the spectrum, though establishing legal parentage in the state presents with some hurdles. In Iowa, only a biologically-related Intended Father can secure his parentage via a pre-birth order, while a biologically-related Intended Mother must use post-birth orders and amend her child(ren)’s birth certificate. Intended Parents who are not biologically related (either gender) complete a post-birth adoption to establish legal parentage in the state.

If you’re an Intended Parent who needs the services of a surrogate or a surrogate who is qualified to provide such an amazing gift to another family, surrogacy in Iowa can be an incredible life-changing journey. Navigating the process of surrogacy in Iowa can be intimidating, however, especially if you’re new to surrogacy, so it’s best if you take your time and research the topic thoroughly. You will rely on a qualified Assisted Reproduction attorney who is familiar with surrogacy to ensure that your journey is done ethically and responsibly taking into account all local laws.

Deciding whether surrogacy in Iowa is the right path for you requires a thoughtful type of due diligence. You’ll want to have frank conversations with your family and trusted doctors/legal professionals. Be candid about your goals and concerns throughout the process. It’s imperative that you seek professional guidance from an Assisted Reproduction attorney who will ultimately draft a surrogacy contract when you’re ready. Contracts ensure the protection of both Intended Parents and surrogates and make sure both parties are in compliance with local laws. If you’re beginning your surrogacy adventure in Iowa, an experienced attorney is your go-to resource for navigating the complexities of surrogacy. Here at Surrogacy Place, we’ve compiled list of licensed attorneys in many states. Check to see if there’s a surrogacy-experienced attorney near you.

Do note: Surrogacy agreements will generally assume jurisdiction where the surrogate lives. In a few cases, surrogacy contracts can consider where the Intended Parent(s) lives or even where the IVF clinic is based. A legal professional well versed in surrogacy can tell you what options you may have in terms of jurisdiction.

Is Iowa surrogacy-friendly? Can I begin my surrogacy journey there?

Yes. In Iowa, commercial surrogacy is widely accepted and there are laws declaring surrogacy in Iowa legal and desirable. Surrogacy contracts drafted in the state are enforceable with contractual obligations expected to be carried out by both sides.

Do I have to use a surrogacy agency in Iowa?

No. You can match with Intended Parents and surrogates without going through a third-party like a surrogacy agency and there are many reasons you may want to as discussed below.

Who can use surrogates in Iowa? Are LGBTQ+ folks allowed to participate?

There are no restrictions on what types of individuals can use surrogacy based on gender, marital status, or sexual preferences/orientation. LGBTQ+ are welcomed and there have been may LGBTQ+ parents and surrogates in the state.

Some more things of note about surrogacy in Iowa:

If you’re interested in traditional surrogacy (where the surrogate is biologically related to the child(ren) she is carrying), there aren’t any specific laws in Iowa that address this arrangement. Gestational surrogacy is much more common in the state and elsewhere, however, because there are less gray areas with respect to parentage when the carrier is not genetically linked to the child(ren) she is carrying. In Iowa, only the genetic Intended Father can apply for parentage prior to birth. Following the birth of a child(ren) born from surrogacy, the courts will consider post-birth orders or full adoptions where a surrogate’s parental rights will have to be deliberately surrendered. Traditional surrogacy does carry risks; at the end of the day, however, you and your family with the guidance of surrogacy-knowledgeable attorney can decide which type of surrogacy is right for you. Traditional surrogacy is generally significantly less expensive for the Intended Parents which is sometimes the top consideration.

Post the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, Iowa still allows abortions at up to 21 weeks and 6 days or less. The legal right to an abortion in the state however is currently being challenged by the state’s governor and many in the legislature who are motivated to pass a “heartbeat” bill making abortion effectively illegal. For now, Iowans have access to Reproductive healthcare, but this is not a guarantee going forwards. If you are pursuing surrogacy in Iowa, this is something to keep an eye on if termination rights are important to you. You may also wish to discuss options if unexpected pregnancy complications happen and how you would need to handle them if local care isn’t possible.

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How can I be sure I’m qualified to be a surrogate? How do I know if my surrogate is qualified?

If you’re a surrogate, you can explore some of the qualifications via our surrogacy quiz. If you’re an Intended Parent, you can also find out if someone you are thinking of using for your journey is qualified by filling out her information. Take the surrogacy qualifications quiz.

General requirements for surrogates:

  • You are finished having your own kids and would not regret not being able to have more of your own.  
  • You are considered very healthy and not at high risk for a pregnancy including a good BMI and an absence of prior pregnancy-related complications.
  • You are financially secure and are not currently receiving government assistance including housing or food assistance.
  • You are between 21 and 44 years old.
  • You are in a good place mentally and do not need mental health medications. It is not ever advisable to go off of necessary prescription drugs to become a surrogate.
  • You are not an illegal drug user and do not abuse alcohol. You’re willing to give up all substances where pregnancy is a contradiction.
  • You are responsible about following doctor’s orders and keeping appointments.

If you meet all of the requirements a Reproductive Endocrinologist will schedule you for a formal evaluation, ultimately deciding if surrogacy is appropriate for you given your overall health.  

The first step is always to match. This is the stage when Intended Parents and surrogates property vet each other for suitability. After that point, a medical clearance gets underway coupled with legal contracts and agreements. Surrogates must choose their own legal representation without anyone forcing their hand. Intended Parents will always cover a surrogate’s legal costs with the surrogate’s attorney generally sending the legal bills to them directly. If everyone is on the same page and a surrogate gets her medical clearance, an embryo (or in rare cases embryos) will be transferred. Then, with any luck, the surrogate will be pregnant and the journey will be well underway.

Here’s our guide to surrogacy put together for surrogates. 

Independent matching in Iowa and beyond

Do you want your surrogacy journey partner to be local to you? If you’re looking for Intended Parents or surrogates in Iowa or any US state where commercial surrogacy is permitted, try using Surrogacy Place’s search-by-state features. Our database is free for surrogates; Intended Parents will pay a very small subscription fee when registering. It’s easy to create an account. 

Is independent surrogacy the right choice for me and my family?

For Intended Parents who are not financially well-off, significant cost savings can be achieved by forgoing surrogacy agencies entirely as they are not an essentially part of surrogacy. Saving money is obviously an advantage for Intended Parent(s), but what about surrogates? Surrogates can benefit financially too as Intended Parents with a limited budget can often provide the surrogate with higher compensation because of the money they save on agency matching and administrative fees. Surrogates are also sometimes better able to set their own compensation requirements without pressure from an agency wanting surrogates to adhere to their standard rate card/price sheet.

The main service agencies provide Intended Parents and surrogates is simple matching. They often use the same online criminal background check services you can use directly. If you need someone to coordinate travel, you can either book the travel yourself (which is very simple to do with basic Internet access) or seek assistance from a plethora of third-party task websites. Agencies also can’t warrant that any surrogate or Intended Parent they match you with is suitable. Never remove yourself from the vetting process entirely whether you are going independent or with an agency.

Keep in mind that in entering into an exclusive relationship with an agency you run the risk that the perfect match may not even be in their database. Some love the white-glove service top-rated agencies provide, so it’s up to you to weigh the positives and negatives in deciding to go independent or use an agency. Surrogacy Place is an alternative to using an agency as we have tools to help you directly match.

For a more detailed discussion on why surrogates prefer independent journeys, read more in our blog.

We also have a guide to the typical costs associated with surrogacy. See our budget breakdown.

Looking for surrogacy information for another state? Explore our surrogacy by state directory.


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Bridget Myers

Bridget Myers grew up in small town in Maryland. She started her career as a substitute teacher before meeting the love of her life and moving to the suburbs of Chicago. She has a passion for dogs and painting. Bridget got involved in Surrogacy Place after researching surrogacy for her best friend. Since joining the team at Surrogacy Place, she has developed a passion for advocating on behalf of Intended Parents and surrogates and doing her part for meaningful reform in the industry.