How Frustrations With Fostering Turned an Aspiring Dad Onto Surrogacy
Late last year, 35-year-old Los Angeles-based real estate agent Kevin Gerdes received national acclaim when he became one of three winners of Queer Eye's Karamo Brown's Send Cheer contest, which celebrated people who dedicated time and effort to send cheer in their community. The aspiring father, recognized for sharing his meaningful journey to becoming a parent on his podcast LGBTQ Stories, YouTube, and other social media platforms, was on the brink of a whole new chapter: pursuing fostering to adopt, a process he first began investigating in August 2020.
Initially interested in private adoption, Gerdes was encouraged by friends to try foster care, and upon finding a local agency in Hollywood that would guide him through the process and help him get licensed, he decided to go that route. By December 2020, he was licensed and ready to go. But what would follow in the weeks and months ahead would end up leading him down a different road entirely: surrogacy.
The Highs and Lows of Being a Foster Parent
Although the goal of foster care is reunification with the birth family, Gerdes was told by his agency that "100 percent of the people who want to adopt end up adopting—it just takes multiple placements." So from the beginning, he was committed to fostering until, emotionally, he "couldn't do it any longer."
Two months after being licensed, Gerdes was called to take a 7-week-old child he refers to as Baby S. In a heartwarming Instagram post from February 8, 2021, Gerdes shared, "Last week, God brought this bundle of joy into my life. He has helped me truly learn the meaning of selflessness. I thought I once knew what it was, but... nah... I didn't."
But in May, after months of caring for Baby S as his own and hearing few updates on his case, Gerdes was required by court to turn the then nearly 5-month-old over to the presumed father's great aunt. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done," he recalls.
After the emotional experience, Gerdes told himself he could do it just one more time. May and June passed, and on multiple occasions, he was told by the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) to expect a child, and yet, each time, the placement didn't come through.
"One time I said, 'If you're not going to bring this child to my house, just call me and let me know, because I can't go through the roller coaster of it all again,'" explains Gerdes. "When you say 'Yes, I will take a child,' you're not just saying, 'Yes, I will take this child and foster this child.' You're saying, 'Yes, I will take and foster this child, and if this child becomes available for adoption, I will adopt this child and be their parent forever.' And you have to make that decision in a matter of minutes on the phone."
The fostering journey became too much for Gerdes emotionally. "There were so many tears. You get so riled up when you think this child is coming," he says.
Gerdes proceeded to take a break from fostering, and during that time, he considered private adoption again. He remembers reaching out to an agency and being told, "You're a single gay man. It's going to be very difficult to get a birth mother to have you adopt a child."
And that's when the aspiring father knew it was time to switch up his game plan and pursue surrogacy. "I had never wanted to surrogacy," he notes. "It wasn't important to me to have a biological child." He was also concerned he would obsess too much with the surrogate's well-being.
Yet, after months of being on the roller coaster of fostering, Gerdes learned a valuable lesson that he could apply to his surrogacy chapter. "I literally learned to love and let go," he says.
The Surrogacy Process (So Far)
Now in a relationship, Gerdes is pursuing surrogacy with the support of his partner Alex and working with an international agency based in Cancun, Mexico. "Surrogacy in the United States, especially California, costs up to $200,000," he notes. "To do it in Cancun, if it takes off the first IVF treatment, then it's going to end up being about $50-55,000."
He got the ball rolling by having his semen analyzed to check on his fertility, and his results came back "good to go." Now, he's chosen his egg donor and is working on earning $17K, which will be the first of several payments. "That literally starts the process," he explains.
To raise the funds, Gerdes is saving up and started a GoFundMe. Because a second semen analysis would be required if the initial payment isn't made within three months of the first, he has until October to raise the money.
The passionate dad-to-be's journey is proof that, sometimes, the path you had in mind for parenting is not the path you end up going down—and that's totally OK. "People would ask me, 'Would you ever do surrogacy?' And my answer was firmly, 'Absolutely not,'" he recalls. "I was like, it would be too anxiety-provoking for me. And now here we are, talking about how I've already started the process of it."
Now, Gerdes knows that all of the joy and heartache he experienced as a foster parent led him to where he is today. "I firmly believe that I had to experience everything I did with fostering to show myself that you cannot control everything," he says. "I'm not worried. It'll all work out. I just have faith, I really do."