All Children Deserve a Family "All Children Deserve a Family"  

Heart Gallery History


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 mother) Cathy Maier: to have talented photographers create inspiring portraits of older children and sibling groups who were waiting for adoption.

At the time, social services agencies had to use whatever images of the children they could get, and most were as inspiring as a driver's license photo. With the support of CYFD, I approached Lisa Bronowicz at the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe about hosting an exhibit of these art-quality portraits.

That's how "The Heart Gallery," as I dubbed it, was born. More than 1,200 people attended the first opening, Randy Travis serenaded the crowd, and connections were made that night leading to the adoption of six Heart Gallery children. We all knew we were on to something special, though what was to come has exceeded our wildest dreams.


The vast majority of states now have Heart Galleries, and many have more than one. Every day I receive an inspirational e-mail from a Heart Gallery group, or see the results of the outreach here in my home state of New Mexico. A few examples:

  1. Five older children found a home after years of waiting,
  2. a girl who had just "aged out" (turned 18) was adopted after she had given up hope,  an aunt spotted her long-lost niece being photographed and ended up adopting her.
  3. Four photographers have adopted their charming subjects

What does finding a family mean to a child?

A judge asked two young New Mexico brothers, Isaiah and Elijah, known as "The Growley Rowley Boys" to their adoptive parents Elle and Gene Rowley, whether they had anything to say at their adoption finalization. Isaiah piped up loudly: "We are Growley Rowley Boys forever now, right?" (Elijah just grinned and said, "I like Blue's Clues!")

The Future

While Heart Gallery exhibits have helped raise awareness about adoption through foster care and have found homes for hundreds of children, there are many more who need our help. 119,000 American children are waiting for adoption as you read this. They need any and all support you can provide.

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Read the history at the Tenth Anniversary!


We have found this program beneficial in finding families for our children. We ask that as you view the children, consider that they live in our communities. Respect their right to privacy, and be aware that they may attend school or church, or play at the local park with your children and relatives. The availability of their pictures leaves our children recognizable and vulnerable to negative attention. Although we strive to protect them, we need your help. Thank you!

© 2018 Heart Gallery of America, Inc.