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Miracle Needed

hong kong blur

We’re praying a miracle will happen for this sweet 10-year-old boy in our Hong Kong Waiting Child Program before September. Unless his forever family is located by then, that’s when he will make the difficult transition from his foster home to a boarding school.

An update we received on him last month indicates that he’s making great progress. He is able to hold conversations and count in English. He’s working hard at his English lessons in order to enhance his chance of being adopted by an American family.

This clever, expressive child, whose case number is Di2014-mc01, loves to sing and play with other children. He can throw, catch and kick a ball and his foster family describes him as smart and happy.

He does well in school and is independent in activities of daily living, including self-feeding, dressing, toilet care and bathing.

As a result of severe physical abuse and neglect as a young child, he developed subdural hemorrhages in his brain which led to moderate retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and obstructive hydrocephalus. Surgery and medical interventions have stabilized his health and he is currently described as generally easy to care for.

He continues to make progress in all areas and we’re hoping this adorable boy’s next move will be to the home of a permanent family who can embrace his special needs with loving arms.

If you have specific questions, please email our Waiting Child Coordinator. If you would like to request his medical/social file, you can do so by completing the form below.

Families from all 50 states may inquire.

Welcome home!

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Welcome home to all of our recent arrivals, who came home to their forever families in the last few months.

1)Brian and Jennifer Batchelor of Arkansas with their son Christopher (Korea)

2)Caleb and Brooke Lewis of Arkansas with their son Samuel (Korea)

3)Emma, daughter of Chris and Amalia Gill of California (Korea)

3a) Emma Gill with older brother Noah, also a Korea adoptee

4)Brian and Jane Kidder of Florida with their son Ethan (Korea)

5)Jeff and Mi-Sook Kyle of California with their son Logan (Korea)

6)Alec and Katie Lawrence of Oklahoma with their son Shepard (Korea)

6a) Shepard Lawrence

7) Kyle and Caroline Lewis of Maryland with their son Paul (China)

8) Liam, son of Brad and Joanna Curtis of Texas (Korea)

9) Lina Borrego with her brothers Daniel and David and her parents Antonio and Stephanie Borrego of Louisiana (Korea)

10) Mary and Jacob, twin daughter and son of Siji and Veena Mathews (India)

11) Jeffrey and Shivali Ober of California with their son Akash (India)

12) Nathan, son of Jeremy and Brandy Romine of Oklahoma, with his older brother Conner (Korea)

13) Asa and Serenity Scrimsher, son and daughter of Wayne and Ronda Scrimsher of Missouri (Korea)

14) Jude Moore with his older brother Samuel, sons of Jordan and Heather Moore of Texas (Korea)

15) Mia Mitchell (left), daughter of Missy Mitchell of Oklahoma, celebrates with her family, including her sister Kaylee, at Dillon International’s Lunar New Gala (China)

15a) Mia Mitchell arriving at the airport

16) Joy Foster, daughter of Justine Foster of Oklahoma (Hong Kong)

16a) Joy Foster, at the wedding of her mother, Justine, to her new dad, Alan Anderson

Waiting for a Family

boys from vietnam

It is our privilege to introduce you to two wonderful boys in our Vietnam Special Adoption Program. Thank you for taking a moment to learn about them and for your prayers and advocacy so that their forever families will be found soon. If you have specific questions, please email our Waiting Child Coordinator. If you would like to request a child’s medical/social file, you can do so by completing the form below.

Di2015-v1faceDi2015-v1

This 14-year-old boy’s main special need is his age. We have received medical information which indicates he is in good health. He was living in a private orphanage, but recently moved to a public orphanage.  A very brief social history is also available.

His loves music and watching movies. His favorite color is red. He dreams of having a family and becoming a soccer player.

di2015-v4Di2015-v4:

VIDEO AVAILABLE This adorable 3-year-old boy in our Vietnam Waiting Child program has had an echocardiogram, which was normal. His hearing and vision are also normal.

At 22 months of age, he was standing with support and working on walking. The orphanage reports no major medical or respiratory issues.He loves to clap along with his caregivers. He also enjoys playing with toys, and he can hold his own bottle.

He has been diagnosed with developmental delay, short stature and coarse facies. The doctor recommends that he have follow-up testing for a precise diagnosis.

Families from all 50 states may inquire.

Birthland tours

visit china
Join us on summer and fall birthland adventures in China, Korea, Vietnam and Guatemala.

By Susan Serrano
Dillon-VisitKoreaFamilyTour2Should your family go on a birthland tour? Yes. Absolutely.

But answers to the questions “Are we ready?” and “How do we get ready?” are a bit more complex.

As with any great adventure, there are many factors to consider as you prepare for this important milestone.

Start by making it a priority. (Yes, it’s really that important.)

“It truly is something every family should experience,” said Jan Dunn, a social worker and director of Dillon International’s Lifetime Support Services. “We want families to realize that when they adopt internationally, they are becoming an international family—Korean American, Haitian American, Chinese American, etc. A birthland tour should be a family affair and a very natural and normal event.”

Children do not stay children forever. As they grow, they will encounter social expectations that they have visited their birth country and know some of its language. “There will be a great sense of pride and satisfaction for them in having achieved these things,” Dunn added.

Build a foundation.

Don’t wait until you’re thinking about a birthland tour to start exposing your child to elements of their birth country’s culture. Seize every opportunity to let your child know that celebrating their heritage is important to you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • If you traveled for your child’s adoption, share your treasured memories with them: what the trip was like, the people you met and all of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes you remember from their birth country.
  • Attend heritage camps for adoptees and work to stay connected to the families you’ll meet there.
  • Get involved with community organizations of individuals from their birth country.
  • Learn about and celebrate some of their birth country’s holidays and special occasions.
  • Add some of their birth country’s popular foods to your family’s mealtime lineup.
  • Read age-appropriate books about adoption and their birth country.
  • Work together to learn some key phrases in their birth country’s language.

So, what do you expect?

Don’t get on the plane without first framing a few expectations of what a birth country visit is—and is not.

This is going to be fun; you will have a great time and you will see plenty of tourist attractions. But this isn’t going to be your ordinary vacation or holiday, so don’t approach it with that mindset.

Because of the price tag associated with international travel, it might be tempting for parents to make the tour a graduation, birthday or anniversary gift. Don’t do this without consulting the adoptee first.

If your family is facing struggles, deal with those issues separately. Do not look to a birthland tour for a quick fix or magical solution to the challenges of adoptive parenting.

A birth country visit is a life-changing trip where one revisits the past, celebrates the present and anticipates the future.

And remember, this trip is about your child so talk with them about their expectations. How do they feel about traveling? What are they excited about? Or worried about?

“Their expectations could be completely different from yours,” said Lisa Leung, Dillon International’s tour coordinator. “Unless you make a point to sit down and talk about it, you’ll never know.”

Here are a few ideas for starting conversations and preparing to get the most out of this trip-of-a-lifetime:

  • Break out the paperwork. Reviewing your child’s lifebook, adoption paperwork and referral photos are great ways to start a conversation about adoption and your child’s birth country. Be sure to make copies and take them on the tour with you.
  • Learn as much as you can in advance of travel, Dunn advised. “When you get to your birth country, a lot of questions you didn’t even know you had will surface once you get involved with the culture. You are definitely stepping into another world when you get off the plane.”
  • Talk to other adoptive families who have gone on a birthland tour. Their shared perspective will give you unique insights. They’ll be a great resource for practical tips on travel and packing, too.

“OK. When do we go?”

If your child joined your family at a young age, plan on making the first birth country visit when they are a pre-teen, around 8-13 years old.

“They’re old enough to remember and enjoy the trip, but still young enough that they aren’t as overwhelmed with identity issues,” Leung advised. “The first trip is the perfect opportunity for an adoptee to get to know their birth country’s culture and experience the sites.”

You should plan on taking a second trip when your child is an older teen or young adult. That trip will be an invaluable opportunity for an adoptee to explore their unique adoption story, reviewing their adoption file or exploring options of a birth family search, Leung added.

A birthland visit can be emotionally taxing for young adult adoptees. “They relish being in a country where they look like everyone else, yet at the same time, they feel separated and isolated by not speaking the language and constantly being called upon to explain why this is the case,” Leung explained.

“It’s ideal for young adults to travel with other adoptees,” Leung said. “We have heard from many adoptees who report that having the support of fellow adoptees is what got them through the pains of culture shock, identity issues and birth family searches.”

Because of this sense of camaraderie with other adoptees, traveling parents should be prepared that their child (of any age) might tend to distance themselves during the trip. “It’s natural for them to want to blend in and to spend more time with fellow adoptees in their travel group,” Leung explained.

While this can be a lonely feeling for parents, it’s actually a good thing. “This can be an important step in their identity formation while reconnecting to their birth country,” Leung said.

“What about children who arrived home when they were older?”

With more children arriving home to their forever families when they are in their tween or teen years, it is important to note that their feelings surrounding a birth country visit will be significantly different from a child who arrived home as an infant or toddler.

While a birthland tour is still a valuable experience, the trip must be approached with additional preparations, Dunn said.

“Parents would need to consider how their child has coped with the trauma of leaving their birth country and talk through with their child about how he or she feels about returning for a short trip,” Dunn advised, adding that families should seek guidance from their adoption agency’s post-adoption department or an adoption-competent counselor before departing. “The key to a successful trip would be preparation: Making sure that their child understands they are going to their birth country with their parents and coming home with their parents.”

The journey doesn’t end when you get home.

Returning to their birth country can bring up unresolved emotions, particularly feelings of loss and grief for both adoptees and parents. It might take weeks or months to process these emotions. And that’s normal.

“There’s a feeling of being at home and foreign at the same time. There’s a struggle between those root issues of ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I feeling this way when I had such a great time?’” Dunn explained.

Adoptees typically feel an increased desire to know more of their history once they’ve visited their birth country. It can be difficult for them to reflect on an adoptee tour companion who was able to meet their foster family or birth family when they were unable to have this experience, Dunn added. “There’s that inward struggle of wanting to be happy for someone, but that feeling of ‘Why isn’t this happening for me?’”

Parents should be ready to be supportive as their child navigates these feelings and keep in contact with their adoption agency for advice after they get home from the tour, Dunn added.

Travel. Reflect. Repeat.

“It’s wonderful that we are seeing more and more families who make birth country visits a regular part of their child’s life, going every year or so,” Dunn said.

This is ideal since your kids will experience their birth country through different perspectives as they grow up; however, realistically, this isn’t affordable for everyone. So just commit to taking every opportunity you possibly can to connect with the country that gave you the most beautiful gift ever: your child.

Editor’s Note: This article was also published in the March 2015 issue of Adoption Today magazine.

Mihika’s amazing update

nix family

Nixfamily-MihikaWith the love and support of her forever family, Mihika Nix—a bright-eyed girl with a big smile and even bigger determination—is achieving her dreams and wowing everyone she meets.

When her parents first met her in an orphanage in India seven years ago, she spent most of her days crying as she struggled with diagnoses of cerebral palsy, periventricular leukomalacia, cortical vision impairment and astigmatism. Read Loving Mihika for her mom Susie’s recollections of those early days.

Fast forward to today…

Nixfamily-Mihika3Mihika’s now a busy, thriving fourth-grader in full-inclusion classes at school. She’s been working hard in therapy and now uses a cane to walk…and she’s able to take 75 independent steps without her cane! She loves to ride with her adaptive cycling team and also participates in hippo therapy (horseback riding) once a week.

She’s still a social butterfly who likes to give hugs. She enjoys music, dancing, swimming, coloring and eating.

She adores her siblings, Elijah, Anna Dola and Simon. Her older brother Elijah can make her laugh like no one else can. Her sister Anna Dola, who also joined the Nix family via adoption from India, takes great delight in helping Mihika with anything she may need and playing with their younger brother, Simon.

Mihika’s mom reports that she’s a joyful girl who loves to pray and recite Bible verses. Her favorite is Psalm 103:8: “The Lord is merciful and gracious; He is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.” (NLT)

Adoption Guide

tiffany vivian

cover of adoption guideIf you’re considering adoption, the Adoption Guide is the place to start.

It contains country program information, family requirements and our agency policies. The latest version has just been uploaded, so we hope you’ll find the answers to many of your questions.

Also, we encourage anyone thinking about adoption to attend one of our one-hour webinars.

 

Birth Family Meeting

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Stacey Roy wasn’t looking for a change of pace. Change found her.

It was the simple act of answering a phone call that initiated the dizzying series of events that redefined her adoption story.

The call came from Jan Dunn, director of Dillon International’s Search Services. She had some big news: Stacey’s birth family—including both parents and a twin sister, whom she never knew existed—was searching for her.

“It was like something you read about or hear about on some talk show or social media. It certainly was not something that I would have ever thought would happen to me in my own little world,” said Stacey, recalling her reaction to the news. “The swell of emotions and thoughts that ran through my head during that 30-minute conversation were probably enough to fill a book.”

stace as childThree decades earlier, Stacey, now a busy mom of young children, joined her adoptive family and grew up with a sister who was also a Korea adoptee. “People would sometimes ask me if I would ever go to Korea to find my birth mom,” Stacey said. “I never wanted to. I’ve wanted to go to Korea, but before all this, I wanted to go just to see the culture and to see where I was born, not to go searching for a part of me that was missing.”

After the exchange of several letters, Stacey’s birth parents requested to meet her in person. “That put a whole new spin on this journey,” Stacey recalled. “When I agreed to meet my birth parents and twin, it was primarily for them. At first, I was fine with just corresponding through letters, but I sensed the urgency they had of wanting to see me.”

After much discussion, a meeting was arranged at the Dillon office and an entourage of Stacey’s adoptive and birth family members gathered in Tulsa. “Dillon was so good to consider all our needs. They prepared us for possible emotions we might experience on the trip and even afterwards, as well as prepping us for any potential cultural differences. It wasn’t just the ‘Stacey and Birth Parents Show;’ it was a huge family gathering that happened to be because a daughter born to one mother was raised by another,” Stacey said

“Meeting some of my birth family filled in missing pieces of my story that I didn’t know I had,” Stacey continued. “But it didn’t fill a void of some kind. Rather, it just enriched the already blessed life I have.”

Stacyepic1Today Stacey continues to keep in touch with her birth family, particularly her twin sister who is fluent in English. “My family has grown. My birth parents feel as though my parents are like their older siblings who took care of their daughter for them. They feel like they’ve gained another daughter in my sister. My sister feels like she’s gained another little sister in my twin. My parents feel they’ve gained more family as well. In fact, my twin sister just had her second baby, and my parents wanted me to relay their message that the baby’s American grandparents can’t wait to see pictures of her.”

So what would she say to other adoptees who are considering meeting birth family or reconnecting with that part of their lives?

“Do only what you are comfortable doing. Pray about it and realize you are not alone. Whether you are the one searching and initiating a reunion or the one being sought after for so long, know that you have great support in the staff at Dillon,” Stacey said.

“The story that unfolds may be different than what you expect or hope for; you may end up with more questions as you find answers and that’s OK,” she added. “Realize a reunion is not the book end. Rather, it’s just a new chapter in your life. In my case, it’s been quite the page turner. But I’m so glad I’m not the author.”

—by Susan Serrano

You’re Not Alone

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SONY DSCI believe that every child who is adopted goes through a hard time; whether it is the “normal” coming of age difficulties or whether it is difficulties that come with our adoption because we don’t know how to properly deal with it. I went through a long period of time where I did not know how to really get by. I was going through an identity crisis and I felt completely alone.

Throughout my whole life I felt like my physical appearance did not match my mind and how I felt about myself. During one of the lowest points in my life I began attending Dillon’s Discovery Days. It was for other adoptees just like me. Adoptees who wanted to meet other adoptees and create lasting friendships. I first attended Discovery Days in 2007. It was the week that I was supposed to go to Korea to meet my birth mother. It was a very hard time for me, but that decision to go was one of the best decisions of my life. The people that I met there are still people that I talk to today.

The adults who were there watching over us were adoptees just like us. They shared their stories and experiences and they showed me that all of us have our ups and downs. It was only natural for us to have our ups and downs, but we would be OK. They showed me that our experiences would make us stronger people. It was at that moment that I decided that I would become a person just like those adults. I would become a friend to other adoptees and younger adoptee children. I wanted to become a role model for others just as those adult adoptees had been for me.

Since 2007, my life has completely changed. I have created so many friendships with other adoptees and have been able to see them change and become wonderful people. It only happens one week of the summer, where we are all together at the camps; however that week is the best week of my life. I look forward to it every year. I have seen the children that attend Korean Heritage Camp grow up for the past seven years. I feel like they’re my own brothers and sisters. I’ve seen them grow from the small little 4- and 5-year-olds who feel like their life is over when game time is over, to young teenagers who are starting to become camp counselors who are on their way to making their own difference in their campers lives. That feeling is one of the most rewarding experiences and I thank Dillon for that.

In 2013 I found out that, through Dillon and Eastern Social Welfare Society, I could participate in a scholarship program to attend a Korean University, learn the Korean language and volunteer with the children at Eastern. Luckily, I was one of the 11 applicants selected to participate along with other adoptees from America and Australia. We were all from different parts of the world and prior to meeting in Korea, we hadn’t met each other before. It was a very interesting experience to be able to meet other adoptees and see that not all of us have the same experience. Prior to this trip I believed that we all had a good experience with our adoption and our families; however, I learned that this wasn’t always the case. It opened my eyes to adoption and adoptees in so many different ways. I realized that I wanted to speak out more about my adoption story and meet other adoptees. I used to be shy and closed off to the world, to my friends and sometimes even to my family.

Through the different programs that Dillon offers along with Eastern Social Welfare Society, I realized that through all of my different experiences and feelings of adoption, I’m not alone. I was never alone in the battle. I found by meeting other adoptees that not all of us take the opportunities that their adoption agencies offer and I’m thankful that I am able to participate in the different camps that Dillon offers. If I hadn’t participated, I wouldn’t have been able to meet all of the people I have, or to have learned more about myself the way I have, or realized that I’m called to do more for the adoptee community. Dillon doesn’t want any adoptee to go through challenges alone and neither do I.

—Kathryn Pier

Dillon is able to provide Lifetime Support Services thanks to generous donors who believe in the lifelong programs that Dillon provides. You can support our work. We are a 501c3 nonprofit agency and depend upon donations. Thank you!

Hope for Vietnam’s Children

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I recently returned from my first visit to Vietnam and I am excited to tell you, this trip was one of my most rewarding and humbling adventures.

I traveled to meet with leaders from the U.S. Department of State, Vietnam’s Department of Adoptions, and Holt International Children’s Service to discuss ways to implement a cooperative intercountry adoption program to serve the nation’s most vulnerable children.

These meetings were a positive and important step as the Vietnam Special Adoption Program moves forward following the re-opening of adoptions this past September. I hope you’ll visit our blog to read more about our work toward the common goal of ensuring that waiting children who are older, have special needs, or are part of a sibling group, have the opportunity to grow up in a family.

The exceptional unity and clear sense of common purpose expressed throughout these meetings would have been sufficient reasons for me to travel home on Cloud Nine. But then I met the kids.

They are the ones I am truly eager to tell you about.

Much of my time in Vietnam was spent traveling to the four provinces where, thanks to generous donors, Dillon offers a program that provides school tuition, books, uniforms and a daily lunch to children in need. I had the honor of personally presenting these scholarships to the 400 kids we currently serve through this effort, which is in its tenth year.

In every province I visited, the entire community turned out for the awards ceremony. Family members, teachers, local government officials: Everyone was there to show support for the children’s achievements and to express their appreciation for this hope-sustaining program.

Success stories abounded. I met with former scholarship recipients who were now college graduates on their way to promising careers. I also had the honor of hearing the hopes and dreams of youngsters who were currently attending school through the program.

Gratitude and excitement for the future were common themes. Many dreamed of careers as teachers, lawyers and social workers. They all looked forward to the opportunity their education would give them to one day make money to provide for their families, but they also dreamed of the day they would be able to give to others in need.

Over and over again, I heard how this program had provided a child with their only opportunity to go to school and have a better life. It was almost embarrassing, this outpouring of gratitude.

Just $100 will send a child in Vietnam to school for a year. In the scheme of things, that’s such a small effort. That is, until you see the tremendous difference that little bit of effort makes in a child’s life, and the light of hope and promise in their eyes as they tell you their dreams.

And so, I returned home from Vietnam with many of the same emotions expressed by the precious people I met there: Feelings of hope and gratitude.

I’m grateful to our donors for the support that has brought so much hope to more than a thousand children in Vietnam over the past ten years. And I’m thankful for this new Special Adoption Program and the opportunity we have to unite waiting children with the loving families they need to thrive. And I’m so very optimistic that working together, we’ll make a true and lasting impact that brings hope to more of Vietnam’s vulnerable children than we ever dreamed possible.

—Kyle  Tresch, Executive Director

Our sons from China

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By Liberty Joy

Our family prayerfully began the process of adopting a child from China through Dillon in the summer of 2012. Our Dillon social worker, Rachel Lee, urged us to be open to a child of either gender. We agreed, and our homestudy approved us for a either a boy or a girl.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALike many other families, we had the preconception that adopting from China would mean that we would most likely be bringing home a little girl even though we were open to a boy. At this point, we did not realize that the face of Chinese adoption was quickly changing and that three-fourths of the children waiting for families were now boys. We did not yet know that, for multiple reasons, the number of Chinese girls in orphanages had drastically dropped in recent years.

Fast-forward to today: We now have the two sweetest Chinese boys in our family, thanks to the Dillon China special needs adoption program. This is the story of how they came to be ours.

We were matched with our son Daniel at the end of February 2013. Saying yes to his referral was a giant leap of faith for our family. His special need was listed as beta thalassemia major, a life-threatening, chronic, incurable disease, which results in a short life expectancy for children who remain in Chinese orphanages.

In fact, the vast majority will die by age 10 if they are not adopted internationally. Once we saw his face, researched like crazy what he was facing as an orphan in China, and read his story, we knew we could not say “no.” We knew the Lord would provide what we needed and would guide us each step of the way. Daniel came home the summer of 2013 and the Lord in His Providence knew what He was doing. We live only an hour away from one of the top thalassemia centers in the U.S. This place is phenomenal!

Our little guy’s life expectancy has gone from grim to one that is near normal. He will likely live a full life and be a grandpa. He is healthy, robust, and a firecracker. You would never ever imagine him to have this condition; he is the picture of health. He fits into our family perfectly and he even earned the nickname of Emperor in the first few days he was with us.

When we had been home with Daniel for a few months, we began discussing the possibility of reusing our dossier. This is a unique opportunity for families in the China program to bring home a second child with the documents already logged in with the CCCWA. The rules are simple and clear. Families must use the same agency and they must be matched with a special focus child within one year of the previous adoption day.

What was extremely appealing was the simplicity of the process, with only three documents that would need updating. We asked Denise (Dillon’s China adoption program director) to keep her eyes open for a little girl with thalassemia for us to possibly reuse our dossier. That is right about when God probably started laughing and shaking His head, knowing what was to come.

A few months later, we got the referral call. It was not a girl, and the special need was not thalassemia.

The referral was in fact for our son Luke, a precious little guy with a limb difference and a few other issues. Exactly one year and two weeks after bringing Daniel home, we were back in China getting Luke.

What we discovered within minutes of having him in our arms was that Luke needed us just as much as Daniel did. Though his special needs did not include a life threatening disease, he was, in fact, in very bad shape and sick. He was extremely malnourished, weak, and at 13 months could not sit up alone nor do much of anything at all due to poor muscle tone.

He did not cry, fuss, eat or drink the first three days we had him. He has now been home four months and has made huge strides. He is crawling, working to overcome eating and sensory issues, gaining weight and thriving in our home. He is such a precious little guy with a quiet and calm personality.

Our sons from China are priceless and beloved in our family. I grieve the thought if we had only been open to adopting girls. Often times just being a boy is what keeps these little guys from being adopted. All orphans need families, boys and girls alike. However, the sad fact remains that the boys will likely wait much longer than the girls.

Editor’s note: Of the six Chinese children on Dillon’s Waiting Child page, five are boys. We hope you will log in to the Waiting Child page to meet them!

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