How One Proud Single Dad Is Navigating the Finances of Fostering to Adopt

Kevin Gerdes has been fostering to adopt since 2020. Here are the financial—and emotional—factors he wants other aspiring foster-to-adopt parents to know.

Kevin Gerdes remembers being on a dating app and questioning his motivations for swiping through profile after profile. "I said, 'Well, I want to get married,'" he remembers. "Why do I want to get married? Because I want children. And I said, 'Why do I have to get married to have children? I don't.' I closed the app, and I started Googling 'private adoption.'"

Gerdes, a real estate agent based in Los Angeles, found that adopting privately is expensive. And even once he'd get on a waiting list through an agency, he'd have to wait years to potentially adopt a baby.

Encouraged by friends to try foster care instead, Gerdes found a local agency in Hollywood that would guide him through the process and help him get licensed. (A foster license typically costs no more than $500.) By December 2020, he was licensed and ready to open his home.

Now, there are two babies in the proud foster dad's home. "If you want to go down the route of foster-to-adopt, you have to do the foster process first," notes Gerdes.

This means that once a child is placed with a foster parent, they go through all of the reunification phases of the case, which involves court hearings and vistitations with the child's biological parents. "[The court] is going to address whether the mother or father is doing everything that they said needs to happen for their case plan," explains the foster dad. "If it's a 'yes,' they're going to have the potential of being reunified with the child at that time. If it's a 'no,' they're going to start really talking about adoption."

All the while, Gerdes was conscious of finances. There's no minimum income to become a foster parent, and "you get stipends, and the food is taken care of, health insurance is taken care of—there's a lot of financial support that the county is providing," he points out. "Sometimes there'll be more [money] if the child is medically fragile or they require a little bit more attention."

And even after adoption, the stipend that you're given follows the children up until they're 18 years old.

Still, notes Gerdes, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for some major expenses. A couple of the bigger ticket items include a car seat and a crib. "They won't leave the children with you if you don't have those two things," he shares.

And then, there are the everyday must-haves like clothes, diapers, and toys. He's required to spend $78 a month on clothing for a foster child, and formula is covered by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). "Foster care children are eligible automatically for WIC," says Gerdes.

Hand-me-downs have also been hugely helpful. "I cannot tell you how many people want to give away their old baby stuff," he says. "If you ask any parent, they will have clothes, toys, everything—I've gotten cribs donated."

Ultimately, all of the challenges have all been well worth it for Gerdes. "The most rewarding part of this journey is when any child is tired, and they rest their head on your shoulder," he shares. "There's almost no words to describe it. It is moving. It's transformative."

Here are Gerdes' top tips for anyone hoping to follow in his footsteps as a foster parent.

Know That You'll Have Financial Support

While stipend amounts will vary by state, foster parents can expect quite a bit of financial aid from government and WIC. "I can spend $300 a month on formula, and it's all covered by WIC," points out Gerdes. "I truly mean it—there's so much support for foster kids and their parents."

Find a Community

If you're thinking about foster care and feel like you need more information and support, Gerdes suggests reaching out to foster parents. He recommends searching under social media hashtags like #FosterParent, #GaysWithKids, #FosteringToAdopt, or #SingleDad. You'd be surprised how many fathers, in particular, you'll find on Instagram, he notes.

Set Realistic Expectations

Gerdes says it's normal to be scared about the fostering process and find yourself wondering, "How am I going to give a child up? I will fall in love with that child and I won't be able to give them up."

The truth is that it can be heartbreaking. But the fact of the matter is that "every human being in our life could not be here tomorrow," notes Gerdes. "Just because you're fostering doesn't mean you will adopt that child. It is a lot more likely that you will have to give that child up, but it gets easier as you go along. All they need is bonding at that age."

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