House Call: Kevin Gerdes Explains His Experience Fostering-To-Adopt as a Gay Man

Kevin Gerdes and his foster child

Verywell / Photo Composite by Christian Alzate / Kevin Gerdes

Kevin Gerdes was looking for love on a dating app when he found something to fill his heart in an unexpected way. An epiphany during the early days of the pandemic led him to foster young children, and as a single gay dad, he’s thriving.

Now Gerdes, 35, who is also a real estate agent in Los Angeles, California, is hoping to inspire other single gay men with hopes of fostering to adopt their own children. He has a budding Instagram and YouTube channel, and shares his journey daily. “When I got into fostering, I had so many questions,” says Gerdes. “I went on YouTube and I was looking for gay men, who were fostering to adopt. Then I was looking for single men that were gay, and then it was black single men that were gay. I didn't see anyone. I didn’t see myself.”

Sharing his story has made a difference in his community and beyond, and now he is telling his story to Verywell Family.

Question 1

How did you become involved in the foster-to-adopt process?

Kevin Gerdes: Back in the early days of the pandemic, in 2020, right when the world stopped, I was on a dating app.  

I’m scrolling and swiping, and I thought to myself, "Why are you on this app?" And I said, "Because I want to get married." Then the next thing was, "Why do you want to be married?" And I said to myself, "Because I want a child." Well, why do you need to be married to have a child?

I got on Google and I started looking into private adoption. That's just where my head went. I found this private adoption agency in Detroit and started the process. The conversations went from caring and kind and warm to the most cold and scripted thing. I remember thinking I don't want to be a part of this.

By this time, I had started a GoFundMe campaign to help me raise money to privately adopt because it’s very costly. I'm heavily involved in my church. A lot of people there said, "You should think about fostering, Kevin."

I had no interest in it. Not because I wasn’t interested but because I had no idea about it. I only knew what you hear on the news, which is usually negative.

But I thought, why not? I Googled "foster-to-adopt Los Angeles" and started with the first one that came up—Aviva Family and Children Services. We had an awesome conversation. The thing that 100% solidified it for me, that fostering was the way to go, was the woman I spoke to for 40 minutes. We had the most loving conversation about how when things are meant to be. In the end, I said, "By the way, what's your name?" And she says, "Magaly." I said, "Oh my God. That is my mother's name. I have never, ever in my 35 years, 34 at the time, met someone with my mom's name." Not only was it her name but we had such a great conversation, and I said, "Sign me up. This is just too coincidental for me."

Question 2

How long was the process between signing up and getting your first foster child?

KG: My nine months of pregnancy was actually two months! I started the process in August. It was a very quick turnaround. I was licensed on December 1, 2020. I got my first child on February 4, 2021, and he was eight-weeks-old, a tiny baby. I had never done this before. I have nieces and nephews. I've worked with kids since I was 19. I've worked with teenagers. I've worked with autistic kids, kids with Down syndrome. I am not scared of parenting. It’s in me. But I did not know what I was doing emotionally. There's a difference between parenting and fathering that I completely understand now.

Question 3

How did you prepare for a foster child when you can’t predict their age or size?

KG: I knew what was required of me to buy. I needed a crib and I needed a car seat or they would not leave a child in my care. As far as everything else—food, blankets, and diapers—I knew the age range I wanted, which was 0-2. Do I need newborn diapers? Do I need size five diapers? I did not know.

What I was always told is when you get that phone call, you do a Target pick up and you put everything in your cart that you need for that one-month-old or eight-month-old and when they drop them off, you put that kid in the car and you go do your Target pick up. You don't know if you’re getting a boy, girl, their age, or their size. You don't know any of that.

Kevin Gerdes and his foster children

Verywell / Photo Composite by Christian Alzate / Kevin Gerdes

Question 4

Now you’re sharing your story on YouTube and Instagram. How did that come about?

KG: During this whole thing, even with the private adoption, and especially when I got into fostering, I had so many questions. I went on YouTube and I was looking for specifically gay men, who were fostering to adopt. Then I was looking for single men that were gay, and then it was Black single men that were gay. I didn't see anyone. I didn’t see myself.

I saw white men who were in relationships doing surrogacy and private adoption. There's one couple I have seen on YouTube—one couple that is a fostering. They have a major channel and they're two white men. Their race doesn't really matter, but we do need representation.

I already had one little video from my GoFundMe. I thought, "If I'm looking for this stuff, there are other people like me looking for this," and I just started posting on YouTube. I had no intention to have a whole channel and have it be what it is today. It took off. It’s starting to be monetized. People are asking to send things to the kids.

I have had people say, "I'm starting to foster because of your story." I've had my agency tell me people have seen me on YouTube and they want to get into fostering.

I set out to raise awareness around fostering and adopting. I always wanted to be a dad—I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t. But I always thought I needed to be in a relationship. It needed to be the “right time.” Something hit me, as it did for the rest of the world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and I thought, "I can do this on my own."

Question 5

You don’t share the names or show the faces of your foster children. Can you talk about being a public figure on the Internet while also respecting your kid’s privacy?

KG: It's very simple. This is my journey to fatherhood. This is not about the kids. That is it.

I talk about what it's like to become a parent. What it’s like to go through the foster care system for me, not for them. If I talked about them, this would be a whole different thing. These young kids have it hard.

I just keep the focus on myself. What is it like when Baby R has diaper rash and I can't get rid of it? Or what is it like to have a foster placement end? That's hard. We didn't talk about why Baby S went back to where he went. We just talked about how hard it was for me to go through that. I just keep the focus on myself.

Question 6

What are your emotions when you’ve been caring for a baby and then you may have to give the baby back to the biological parents?

KG: It’s hard. With baby T, he has been with me for a month. I have to give him back today. There are two reasons why I’m not in tears right now. First, he is my fifth child. I'm more used to this process. The second is that he's only been with me for a month. We are literally just at the point where we're starting to bond. Baby R—he’s been with me for six months. Completely different bond, completely different experiences, completely different cases.

I understand reunification. I support reunification. I support it for the right cases. I'm not afraid to say that, but man, it is hard. I’m sad about Baby T leaving, obviously, but I’ve got to trust the system. I have to trust that these judges are making sound decisions.

It's hard on the kids and it's hard on the parents. However, the difference is that we are adults. We can use logic, we can reason, we can go to our therapist, and do whatever we need to do to work through the fact that we're sad. But that kid needed me to be sad because that means I did a good job.

Question 7

You’re a real estate agent. How are you balancing your job with being a parent?

KG: When Baby T came, he and Baby R both had to go to daycare. In L.A. county, the county will pay for daycare services. A lot of people ask me, how do you afford this? Most people don't understand that their daycare, food, and their insurance is taken care of. I only spend money on clothes or when they need a bouncy or a toy because they need to be occupied.

It is hard working on the computer at home with kids. I went to a $6,000,000 home yesterday. I could take one kid, maybe, but rolling in with two? It’s not appropriate. I really did put a pause on a lot of things for myself.

I'm fully aware that when you're self-employed, you have way more flexibility. I could sell a million-dollar house in L.A. and that’s a $20,000 payday right there. That provides a lot of flexibility, and I realize not everyone is in that situation.

Question 8

You started by saying this came about because you were on a dating app. Are you looking for love?

KG: Yes, I am. It's hard. It's very time-consuming. It's Los Angeles. It's a very superficial city. Having a child and being gay, I fear someone wanting to live out their dreams of being a father through me. Because for gay men, it's still new for us to be able to do this.

It’s one thing to say you want to be with someone with kids, it’s another thing when you’re actually in it. It's scary. I don't want to get hurt, but I am currently looking again. I'm just trying to be more sensitive to the amount of time I invest. It'd be nice to go on some dates but to jump into a relationship right now? I don't know that I have the capacity for it, but I do want to find someone.

Kevin Gerdes and his foster child

Verywell / Photo Composite by Christian Alzate / Kevin Gerdes

Question 9

How often do you have to go to court?

KG: As a foster parent, you can request to be at every hearing. However, there can be objections from the attorneys or the parents.

There is usually a hearing at the beginning, and then another after six months to determine if the parents have performed the things they need for reunification. It goes on with appeals or adoption hearings.

You don't have to attend, but I try to go to them all. 

Question 10

How do you find time for self-care?

KG: I'm literally going to the gym today to sign up. I went from working out six days a week—I was in much better shape—to now I've got a dad bod! I love to work out. It's very therapeutic for me.

Baby R will go to daycare a couple of days a week so I can go work out and focus on some of the work I need to do. You've got to do stuff for yourself. If it's working out, if it's knitting, I don't care what it is. You have to take care of yourself because parenting is a lot.

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