Heart Gallery photos have inspired adoptions for 10 years

Mon Jun 6, 2011 9:42am EDT
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By Zelie Pollon

SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) - When Diane Granito was hired to recruit foster and adoptive parents in New Mexico, she was told to review the photos of children available for adoption.

The shots were "uniformly bad," Granito said.

She knew they had to be better if people were going to be drawn to adopt the children.

Granito, the adoption events manager for New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department, asked some of the state's most talented photographers to help capture the beauty and spirit of the state's foster children. A large-scale art show at a local gallery would help spread the word, she thought.

This weekend marks 10 years since the first exhibition of the Heart Gallery. There are now 130 different Heart Gallery organizations around the country, and two recently started in Ontario, Canada.

Granito recently launched a national organization, Heart Gallery of America, and hopes to expand in Europe.

That first exhibition of the Heart Gallery broke gallery records, drawing more than 1,200 people to Santa Fe's upscale Gerald Peters Gallery in a single evening. On display were 50 various-sized photos of children who had been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect and were looking for their forever families.

"When I walked into that gallery and saw all those beautiful portraits looking at me, I knew we were on to something," Granito told Reuters.   Continued...

<p>Cecilia and Emmanuel (R), children available for adoption, are seen in this undated handout image obtained by Reuters June 4, 2011. REUTERS/Sebastein Darteville-Courtesy Heart Gallery/Handout</p>