Imagine you are only 18 years old, fresh out of high school, and someone hands you a baby. You may not be prepared for life as a parent, yet one City College student is responsible for raising many children: Anita Stupina, foster mom.
Stupina has been a foster parent for almost a year. Stupina cared for five children until they were returned to their families or found a permanent home. She has two beautiful babies now — one only a few weeks old — yet she does not fit the mold of the average teen mom.
Walking through the campus, Stupina does not stand out. She wears jeans and a generic, zip-up sweater. She has dirty-blonde hair that falls a bit past her collarbones, with thick bangs that cover her forehead. Her bright, blue eyes complement her gentle smile. She looks sweet enough to be a Disney princess.
She has devoted her final teenage years to trying to change the lives of less fortunate children.
This 18-year-old has already changed the lives of many.
“It is hard to give them back if their parents are crazy, but it is easier if they are adopted,” says Stupina, referring to the hardest parts about being a foster mom.
Ever since she turned 15, she says she knew she wanted to be a foster mom, around the same time her mother became a foster parent. She has two aunts that have taken in children as well.
“She is really good,” her younger sister Violetta Stupina says about her sister’s parenting. “She enjoys the kids. She doesn’t care about the money.”
Stupina is specifically assigned to babies that range from ages 0-5. She says she finds satisfaction in trying to show her foster children what a family looks like and what it feels like to have support from them, even if it is only for a short period of time.
“This is how the world works,” she says. “Not everyone beats you and takes your things and is mean to you.”
She speaks softly, with an accent. It may make you curious enough to ask where she comes from. When she was eight years old, Stupina moved to the United States from Russia. She has lived here the majority of her life, and that is why she calls it her home.
Stupina and her family share their personal Christian beliefs and values with all of the impressionable children that pass through their home.
She says that the children, all under 5 years old, respond well when she brings them to church to socialize with children their age.
Being a foster mom is one of Stupina’s great joys, and she tries to provide them with the best care she can.
After the children move on to permanent families, Stupina says that the only thing she can do is pray for them.