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Photographers Present Foster Kids in the 'Right Light'

In 2001, Diane Granito founded the Heart Gallery, a unique program that uses photography to help find homes for older foster children, sibling groups, and other children who are traditionally difficult to place with families. A prominent art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, donated space where more than a thousand people came opening night. The photos on exhibit were the end result of the photographers' attempts to coax out the unique personalities in hundreds of children—a great contrast to the typical photos attached to a child's file. "They look like mug shots," said one of the photographers of the typical case photos. "This is an opportunity to just portray them as kids in their environments," said another involved. "We're treating this as a living, breathing project."

Since its inception, the Santa Fe project has inspired 120 more Heart Galleries across the United States. In some places, the adoption rate after an exhibit is more than double the nationwide rate of adoption from foster care. Such photography earns a description worthy of its roots: photography in Greek means "to write in light."

Those who work to find foster children adoptive families are used to rubbing up against the public perception that most foster children have serious emotional and behavioral problems. Sometimes, though not always, it is an accurate perception. And a picture offered in a different light does not change the child it portrays. But an image of a troubled child at play does offer the accurate light of hope.

Possible Preaching Angles: God the Father adopted us as his children when we stood in the worst of all possible lights. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That is to say, as Christ died for the sins of the world, he held dear even the pictures of us at our worst. But now God the Father views us in the light of Christ himself.

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