I am currently indexing History of Johnson Co, Iowa and came across this adoption information for two young black girls. I am posting it here hoping it helps someone with their research.
Source: History of Johnson County, Iowa, 1836 to 1882, page 463-464
Two Negro Girls Taken from Iowa City and Sold into Slavery
In 1859-60 a man named JOHN L. CURTIS, who had a farm in Fremont township, was then living in Iowa City. He came here from Tennessee, but claimed to be a native of new England. Two negro girls form part of his family, and early in February, 1860, he took them in a carriage and started off south, with the intention, as was generally believed, of selling them into slavery to raise a little money for his immediate necessities. He was followed by constable A. T. MCILVAINE, who overtook him at Fairfield in Jefferson county, and arrested him on a charge of kidnapping, and he, with the black girls, was brought back to Iowa City. Rather than stand trial on the charges, which were decidedly "bad medicine" here about that time, he agreed to give the children his formal and legal adoption. The following official document explains the case further:
M. J. MORSMAN, Mayor of Iowa City, to J. L. and NANCY R. CURTIS -- Deed of Adoption.
This indenture witnesseth: That I, M. J. MORSMAN, Mayor of Iowa City, State of Iowa, for and in consideration of the covenants hereinafter mentioned, and the love, regard and affection entertained by one JOHN L. CURTIS, NANCY R. CURTIS of Iowa City aforesaid, for two minor children named respectively, MARY OLD, aged thirteen years, whose parents are not living, and VERSA OLD, aged ten years, whose father is dead and whose mother is living, but has abandoned said VERSA OLD; which said children are now residing in Iowa City, State of Iowa, aforesaid, and who have no survivors or relatives in said State of Iowa, doth by these presents consent, covenant and agree, to and with the said JOHN L. CURTIS and NANCY R. CURTIS aforesaid, that the said JOHN L. CURTIS and NANCY R. CURTIS shall adopt as their won, and take into their family the said minor children aforesaid, with the exclusive custody and chare thereof, hereby conferring upon said children all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that would pertain to said children if born to the said JOHN L. CURTIS and NANCY R. CURTIS in lawful wedlock; also conferring and allotting to said JOHN L. CURTIS and NANCY R. CURTIS all the rights, duties, powers, control and relation towards and over said children hereby adopted, as the parent by law and nature has over his or her lawful child.
The names of said children are hereafter to be MARY CURTIS and VERSA CURTIS, respectively. That such children are hereby given to and are adopted by said JOHN L. CURTIS and NANCY R. CURTIS, for the purpose of adoption as their own children, and to be by them controlled, educated and cared for as children to them born in lawful wedlock. All indentures, bonds or instruments in writing heretofore executed to the contrary, notwithstanding.
In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 13th day of February, 1860.
M. J. MORSMAN
Mayor of Iowa City
J. L. CURTIS
N. R. CURTIS
In a few months after this "adoption" dodge, CURTIS again took the girls off south, being accompanied this time by DAVID LOPP, of Fremont township, and sold them in Memphis, Tennessee -- one for $500 and the other for $800.