I thought it was simply the person he was supposed to be while there, undercover, and all, wouldn't know any of this. So what does a guy say to another guy when talking about the other's pregnant wife? You make small talk about the kid to be. "How far along?" "Boy or girl?" Of course Tony should know, but Howard wouldn't know that this guy should know. So he was just talking to Howard. I thought he was just trying to "get to know his dad". Because when you think about it. He never really did know his dad. He was surprised the night he did his "homework" and found the film where Howard talked to Tony and told Tony how much he meant to him.
As someone who's dad has been gone for a while, and unfortunately the last 5 years of my dad's life, he was estranged, I would jump at the chance to just talk to him again. It wouldn't have to be about anything significant either, just to be able to talk to him would be great.
That's the way I interpreted it.
Even though I've been a long time fan of Iron Man, I didn't know about about the "adoption" plotline. I wasn't reading during that time of publishing.