What do you do after retiring from 30 years with the Los Angeles Police Department?
What do you do after years of dealing with gangs, robberies, domestic violence, grand theft auto, and other crimes on the mean streets of LA?
You become a foster parent!
At least that’s what Maurice Graham of North Providence did. He and his wife Rhode, over the past two years, have cared for seven foster children, mostly teenagers. Many of whom have since been reunited with their families.
“She brought up the idea of becoming foster parents,” he said. Rhode has cousins who have been caring for foster children for years. Maurice and Rhode enjoyed meeting the kids at family gatherings.
The Grahams bring a lot of experience to foster parenting, including raising their own kids. “We have the house; we have the room. We have something to offer, namely the experience of raising seven children of our own,” he said.
Many people thinking about foster parenting envision taking in an infant, but the Grahams understand the benefits to fostering older children. For example, they’re self-sufficient and can help around the house. The Grahams also enjoy focusing on helping their foster children with education (especially since distance learning has become a new element), and life skills, such as making the bed every day. Their philosophy: We are guides on their journey. We are influencers who will be positively affecting these children for the rest of their lives. We lead by example.
Their advice to anyone considering becoming a foster parent: Think about it for a while. The financial aspect of being a foster parent (e.g. monthly stipends from the state) shouldn’t even be a consideration. They believe that you have to be willing to drop “foster” from “foster child,” embracing the idea that “This is our child.”
Maurice and Rhode Graham are truly role models for potential foster parents. “We love every minute of it,” he said.