Jenny Serrano, MPA, Children’s Services Administrator, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services

A foster care alumna herself, Ms. Serrano oversees DCFS programs for transition-age foster youth in the areas of workforce development, scholarships, post-secondary education, and transportation.

Born in the Shadow of the Court is a must-read for any prospective fost-adopt caregiver. From the court and visitation detail to the relationship pressures and regular life issues of work and housing – it’s all riveting. The fost-adopt process is very often one mired in mystery. Unless a new caregiver has guidance or prior experience with the child welfare system, it can look incredibly complex, cumbersome, and even biased at times in favor of biological parents, even when it might be contrary to the child’s best interests. Seeing that there can be a happy ending should inspire hope and help everyone involved understand the complexity of the process, and the possibility of forging greater love in a chosen family.

The siblings’ teen mom reminds me of a lot of other young girls who become mothers in foster care: abused, neglected children who grow up in unstable environments and face a difficult road ahead. With support, they may develop the right skills to heal their traumas and forge healthy bonds with their babies. However, in those cases where this isn’t going to happen, providing stability and permanence for their children is paramount. In these situations, we, as a system and a society, are grateful for families like Lane’s that show up for these children.

Despite its dramatic events, the book is deeply heart-warming. So many pathways cross and uncross on its journey to craft a strong, beautiful bow around two young girls. There are starts and stops along the way, but as these little girls share their smiles, first words, and laughter, they keep us all hopeful.