From left, former foster care youths Laurissa Fike, Eric Lulow and Betty Krupa speak after a news conference with Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Karen Bass.
Krupa says she is lucky to have found a comfortable foster family at the age of 14, because families usually look to adopt infants, not neglected teens. But she clicked almost immediately with her new family, sharing with them a love of the same music, traveling and affection for the family dog she had always wanted.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” she said, citing the early stages of their relationship, during which she couldn’t bring herself to hug her adoptive parents. “But we did reach a stage where it’s like a normal relationship.”
She keeps in close contact with her adoptive parents, and she moved out of their home only last year. They’re the ones who pushed her to submit an application to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, which led her to nab one of 15 spots and an internship with the office of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). The application process came at a trying time in Krupa’s life, during which her birth brother went missing and was found to have committed suicide.
“That was another reason I thought, ‘I need to apply and go forth into the community’” and make a difference, she said.
During her time in DeMint’s office, she partnered with another CCAI intern and two other interns and produced an amendment to the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. After their lobbying efforts, a version of their amendment was passed when the bill was reauthorized in December 2010.
Every CCAI intern class since Krupa’s has participated in the legislative process, working together to create a policy report and present it at a Congressional briefing by the end of the summer. The experience, Krupa said, offered her and her peers a sense of their potential to effect change through the legislative process.
“It was definitely a step up for us [foster care alumni] that we were able to use our voice,” she said. “That the alumni can use our voice and actually make changes is pretty powerful.” Today, Krupa engages in policy development by advising Tasha Patusky, Landrieu’s legislative aide on children and family issues. She says she is often asked for her personal take on adoption issues, and she uses her connections to other foster care alumni to help inform the Senator about the possible effects of pending legislation.
But she sees herself as always being an advocate for foster care issues because of her personal connection to the system.
“I always said that the government was my parents for a lot of my life,” she said. “So I knew I needed to get back into the community and make a difference and make the lives of others better.”