In a place where beautiful pictures are common, one woman had an
uncommon idea. In 2001, as a foster and adoptive parent recruiter
for the New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD),
I had the honor of developing an idea from photographer (and adoptive
Maier: to have talented photographers create inspiring
portraits of older children and sibling groups who were waiting
Kudos to all the Heart Gallery planners, photographers, and other
adoption advocates across the country. You are as amazing as the
children whose dreams you are empowering. ..By Diane Granito-founder/Statewide
Special Events Coordinator, New Mexico Children, Youth & Families
By January 2005, when Rosemary Zibart's touching Parade magazine
article about the Heart Gallery came out, several hundred children
in the "Heart Gallery" cities or states had already found
homes through the project.
Since then, thanks to the hard work of hundreds of volunteers around
the country and the generosity of many individuals and organizations,
the Heart Gallery has grown exponentially, expanding to dozens of
states and cities. Heart Galleries have been featured in People,
the NY Times, The Christian Science Monitor,and on MSNBC, CNN, ABC
World News Tonight, and the Today Show. In April, Parade did a follow-up
article on the impact of their first article and USA Weekend will
be coming out with an article about the project soon.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
On her first day working for New Mexico's Adoption and Family Services,
Diane Granito thought the very least she could do for children looking
for adoptive homes was to take a decent photograph. Not a snapshot,
a portrait by a professional.
Granito chose children considered difficult to place in adoptive
families -- difficult because they came along with siblings, or they
had just grown older, like Arron, still hoping for parents at 16.
"When you're hoping for something like that for a long time and
it doesn't happen, your heart gets a little more broken each time,"
says Granito. Soon all the photographs Granito had arranged began
to fill her office.
"I was surrounded by these children, and the emotion that came
up in me was so powerful that I knew we were onto something," she
And this is where Diane Granito followed her very good idea with
a great one. She had recently been walking along Santa Fe's art
gallery row and she thought to herself, photographs this beautiful
deserve an equally beautiful home. So she went to one of Santa Fe's
finest art galleries.
"What a great idea!" recalls Lisa Bronowicz, the former special
events director at Gerald Peters Gallery. "You have the kids, we
have the gallery."
She called it, "The Heart Gallery." Three sisters featured in the
exhibit found a family in less than an hour. Soon, other states
"It was almost as if the country was waiting to be told these children
are here, because nobody really talked about them before," says
And after five years, almost 100 Heart Galleries have opened in
48 states. Different locations, but the same magic. More than 1,000
children have found homes.
Twelve-year-old Jalinda saw her portrait for the first time at
the St. Louis Heart Gallery. "I think it looks good!" said Jalinda.
"I like it, it is cute!"
For the photographers, who all donate their time, something often
clicks. The very first frame Santa Fe photographer Jackie Mathey
took of Faye captured them both.
"I could see her strength and her character in the mirror," remembers
Mathey. She and her husband adopted Faye. She says it is even better
than she hoped it would be.
"They're very special children," says Granito. "They deserve to
be seen in this type of environment -- a beautiful place."
And it helps us see the need of thousands, through the eyes of