Iowa Code 710.11 and 641-99.15 implicitly permits surrogacy and Iowa courts are usually favorable towards surrogacy. 

Although the following guide can give you a better understanding of the general rules and regulations of surrogacy in Iowa, it is not meant to be used as legal advice. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney to guide you through your unique journey.

Below is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about surrogacy in Iowa.

Iowa State Seal

Is Gestational Surrogacy Legal in Iowa?

YesIowa statutes permit gestational surrogacy and detail the specific steps that Vital Records must take in issuing birth certificates to children born to surrogates. Case law has also upheld the validity of surrogacy.

Is Traditional Surrogacy Legal in Iowa?

YesTraditional surrogacy is legal in Iowa because there are no laws prohibiting it. Traditional surrogate journeys are rare; however, because in these cases, the surrogate is the biological mother of the child and courts may favor the biological mother and grant her parental rights.  

Due to the risks associated with pursuing this path, it is discouraged and most all attorneys will not complete a traditional surrogacy.

Is Compensated Surrogacy Legal in Iowa?

YesThere are no regulations regarding the base compensation a surrogate can receive for her services in this state; so this is something that is established when the surrogacy contract between surrogates and intended parents is drafted.  In addition to their base pay, surrogates are compensated for their time, the medical risks they accept, and the list of expenses below: 

  • Mock cycle compensation 
  • Embryo transfer compensation
  • Starting medication compensation
  • Monthly allowance for miscellaneous expenses
  • Monthly Housekeeping budget
  • Maternity clothing budget
  • Medical expenses
  • Travel to and from clinic/hospital
  • Lost wages if applicable
  • Child care if bed rest is required
  • Term life insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Independent legal counsel
  • Psychological counseling
  • Other depending on agency

Creating an Iowa Surrogacy Contract

There are no specific requirements for surrogacy contracts in Iowa. However, both the surrogate and the intended parents must be represented by separate surrogacy attorneys to ensure both parties’ individual rights and interests are protected.  These attorneys will negotiate a contract that addresses at least the following: 

  • Surrogate compensation and other financial information
  • Potential risks and liabilities of the surrogacy process
  • Legal process for establishing parental rights
  • Contact expectations before, during, and after the surrogacy process
  • Plans for the hospital stay
  • And more

The intended parents, the surrogate, and her spouse (if applicable) must consent to and sign the surrogacy contract before it is finalized. Only then can the medical process of surrogacy can begin. 

Determining Legal Parentage in Iowa

Pre-birth and post-birth orders are permitted in Iowa. However, only partial pre-birth parentage orders are granted, and are only available to Intended Fathers (not mothers) who are genetically related to the child.  In Iowa, a surrogate is considered to be the legal mother, regardless of her genetic relationship to the baby she carries. A non-genetic intended parent (Father or Mother) will be required to complete a post-birth adoption process to secure his or her parental rights, while a genetically related Intended Mother may file for a post-birth parentage order.  Intended parents will also need to terminate the surrogate’s, and the surrogate’s husband’s (if applicable), parental rights.

Typically, post-birth parentage orders are only available to Intended Mothers who are genetically related to the child.


Same-Sex Surrogacy in Iowa

Q: Is Same-Sex Surrogacy Legal in Iowa?
A: Yes. Same-sex couples and LGBT+ intended parents have the same legal rights and will experience generally the same surrogacy process as opposite-sex couples, with the exception of likely requiring an egg donor or sperm donor to complete the IVF procedure. 

Q: Are There any Additional Laws Impacting Same-Sex Parenting in Iowa?
A: No. There are no additional laws impacting same-sex parents in this state.


Q: Are Surrogacy Contracts (Whether Compensated or Altruistic) Enforceable in Iowa?

A: Surrogacy is implicitly permitted in Iowa based upon the state’s case law and statutory law. Although there are not any specific surrogacy laws indicating whether surrogacy contracts are enforceable, it assumed that they would be enforceable like any other legal contract. 

Q: Are There Any Particular Laws for Parents Outside the U.S. Who Complete a Surrogacy in Iowa?

A: No. All surrogacy laws in Iowa that apply to domestic intended parents also apply to international intended parents.  It is important, however, that intended parents from another country speak with an immigration lawyer to ensure they follow the proper legal steps for taking their child home.

Q: When do Intended Parents Need to Complete an Adoption After Birth?

A: Adoptions after birth are required when an intended mother or intended father is not genetically related to the child born via surrogacy in order to secure his/her parental rights. Intended Mothers who are genetically related to the child may file for a post-birth parentage order. 

Q: Does Iowa Allow Second-Parent Adoptions? Who Would Need to Complete a Second-Parent Adoption vs. a Stepparent Adoption (If Applicable)?

A: Yes. If the intended parent is in a relationship but unmarried and one of the partners is not genetically related to the child, the partner with no genetic connection would need to complete a second-parent adoption. A married intended parent; however, can complete a stepparent adoption.

Q: What Happens in Cases Where Intended Parents Use a Donor Egg, Sperm or Embryo?

A: In cases where intended parents use a donor egg, sperm or embryo, the intended parent(s) with no genetic connection to the child is required to complete an adoption post-birth. 


Shayla McCormally
Des Moines, IA
(515) 686-8020

Catherine C. Dietz-Kilen
Des Moines, IA
(515) 284-1433

Emilee Boyle Gehling
Sioux City, IA
(712) 226-4600

This is a copyrighted document and therefore protected by the copyright laws of the United States. Violation of these laws is a punishable offense under the US Copyright laws and, depending on the method of transmission, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Any retransmission or use of this document or any map herein is expressly prohibited without prior and express authorization of SurrogateFirst Corp.
SurrogateFirst Corp. is not providing legal advice to users of this website, nor does use of any of the maps or summaries on this website constitute or create any attorney-client relationship between SurrogateFirst Corp. and users of this site.

This website is not intended to substitute for consulting with legal counsel in the appropriate local jurisdiction. SurrogateFirst Corp. makes no warranties that the information on this site is current, accurate, or that favorable results that have been obtained in prior cases will be obtained in future cases.

Please advise us of any state law updates at