The new adoption record law passed in 2021 may lead to questions for families who lovingly placed a child in an adoptive home through Catholic Charities.

The following resources are meant to inform your decision.

If you are a birth parent and wish to remain anonymous. Please read this through carefully.

Catholic Charities was not involved in this recent law change and we are providing this information as a courtesy. Please contact the Iowa Department of Public Health: Bureau of Health Statistics directly with any questions you may have about this law and how it impacts you.

Please note: Catholic Charities does not possess or distribute birth certificates.

Per the Iowa Department of Public Health: Bureau of Health Statistics, adoptees may now receive a noncertified copy of the certificate of birth prior to adoption. Biological parents may state their preference to release their identity and option for contact, or for their identity to be removed from the original certificate of birth prior to adoption.

Governor Reynolds signed new legislation that will allow an adopted adult whose original birth certificate was substituted with a new certificate after adoption, to apply for and obtain a non-certified copy of the original certificate of birth, which will include biological parent information. The new law will also allow an entitled person to apply for the adult adoptee’s original certificate prior to adoption if the adoptee is deceased. See full text of the legislation, HF855.

The law will immediately apply to those who were born before 1971. Beginning January 1, 2022, anyone over the age of 18 can request the same document.

Those wishing to apply or learn more about the application process should visit the IDPH website.

If the Iowa Department of Public Health: Bureau of Statistics does NOT receive your “Biological Parent of an Adoptee Contact Preference Form” your name MAY BE RELEASED.

If you want to remain anonymous, this requires your immediate attention.

Please contact the Bureau of Statistics directly at (515) 281-7689  or
Click Here for the IDPH form: Biological Parent of an Adoptee Contact Preference Form

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is this law relevant to birth parents from “closed” adoptions?

  • A child placed in an adoptive home has two birth certificates: the original with the birth parents’ names and one following the adoption listing the adoptive parent’s names. The new law allows access to the original birth certificate with birth parent information, even if the agency that processed the adoption did so as a “closed” adoption. You need to work directly with the Iowa Department of Health: Bureau of Statistics if this issue impacts you.

Does Catholic Charities have a non-certified copy of the birth certificate?

  • NO, Catholic Charities does not possess or distribute birth certificates from our adoption placement program. All records are held by the Iowa Department of Public Health: Bureau of Health Statistics.

If I participated in a closed adoption, how can I protect my identity?

  • According to the Iowa Department of Public Health: Bureau of Health Statistics, biological parents may state their preference to release their identity and option for contact or for their identity to be removed from the original certificate of birth prior to adoption.
  • With the new law, there is no guarantee of anonymity. This is a time-sensitive matter as the state is currently processing applications. Please contact the Iowa Department of Public Health with any questions. 

How do I contact the state agency processing these requests?

Applications will only be accepted via mail or in-person at the Bureau of Health Statistics. Mail contact forms to:

Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Health Statistics
Lucas State Office Building
1st Floor, 321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa   50319-0075

Phone: (515) 281-7689

If I call Catholic Charities, can they help me with my questions about this law?

No, Catholic Charities was not involved in this recent law change and cannot provide any insight into the process. All calls regarding this new law should be directed to the Iowa Department of Public Health: Bureau of Statistics at (515) 281-7689.

Why is Catholic Charities sharing this information if they cannot help me with questions?

  • We at Catholic Charities have a moral obligation to the families who lovingly placed a child in an adoptive home. We have played a supportive role for many years to ensure the wishes of the families were met. With a sensitive issue, such as adoption, we value the needs of the families involved, including the wishes of birth parents to remain anonymous. Catholic Charities has NOT and will continue to NOT release names without the consent of all parties involved.  Families seeking to reconnect should contact Executive Director Amy Bloch, LISW, at info@cathchar.com or 712.252.4547 for help to reconnect with respect and dignity.