Posts tagged ‘Adoption’



We’ve had a flurry of exciting emails lately—-


Bill & Theresa,

Congratulations!!! We received your package today AND we completed the critical review of your dossier! Everything looks fantastic! Job well done! J Your dossier has now been moved to translation and will be mailed to China within a few days! We will notify you via email once your dossier has been mailed, once it’s received in China, and once it is logged-in at the CCCWA.


 Then there was this—- 



Here’s the news you’ve long been waiting for—your dossier was sent to China today (3/28/2014)!  Hooray!  J

Here’s what to expect for the next month:

The CCCWA will receive your dossier in approximately 3-5 business days. Our China Department will contact you by email once your dossier has been received by our representatives in China and hand-delivered to the CCCWA.

The CCCWA usually logs in dossiers within 3 weeks of their receipt.  This Log-In Date is called your LID, the date that you may “count down” to your referral.  We will e-mail you as soon as we have confirmation of your LID and will then give you instructions on how to download your LID Packet. Your LID will also be posted on your “My Adoption” page of the CCAI website the instant we are notified of it.

Now that you’ve reached this huge milestone, the ladies in the Child Match Department will be monitoring your file and contacting you with regards to any required updates and/or information that’s needed between now and when you receive your match. 


 And finally—- (don’t know why I can’t change the font…)


Congratulations!  Your dossier has been delivered to the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) on March 31, 2014. 

We will notify you by email as soon as we receive your official log-in date (LID) from CCCWA, and then you will be prompted to go to the CCAI website to download Dossier Log-In Date Packet.  This will occur within approximately 3 weeks from now.  Please notice that this wait time can vary due to CCCWA’s LID processing speed.  
So now we wait for our LID…
joy shatter


As I remenisce the wondferful silent auction evening, I keep thinking to myself…

I am not worthy.  

I say “I’m not worthy” not to play the martyr, but to show how blessed I am.  We all want to help eachother…it’s in us.  When we allow that part of us to shine, God takes over and miracles happen.  I see this fundraising experience as a miracle because out of an idea…one idea…people joined to support someone in need.  Most of the guests were friends and family–but some didn’t know us from a man on the moon.  What an incredible thing!  That’s why I say “I am not worthy.”  Who is worthy of such outpouring kindness? 

The night went perfectly. The weather, turnout, EVERYTHING went like clockwork.  My mother and wife are mostly responsible.  When you put heaping amounts of time and energy into something, good things happen.  But even the most meticulously planned events have issues.  Not ours.  It was as though God took care of all the variables. There was a good mix of old and new friends, family and relatives. My Godfather who lives in Naples, Florida came as well as friends I hadn’t seen in years. I was especially touched by the Sisters of the Transfiguration who showed their support and provided insight into the adoption process.

As one guest put it—”if nuns show up then you know it (the party) is meant to be.”  I had to laugh because I couldn’t agree more.

All told, about 100 people showed up–the cream of the crop. I say that because many of them (the majority) stayed till the end.  Out of 70 items offered, only five remained when the bidding stopped. 

(My hypnosis treatment was one of them.  I guess the thought of Billy boy putting someone in a trance freaked out the masses)


65 out of 70 items sold! That’s amazing considering only a third of the people showed and that’s why I say “cream of the crop.”  Had all 300 invitees attended, the outcome would be the same.  Not to get all biblical on you, but it put me in mind of Jesus dividing the bread and fish. We had a huge hall fit for 300 guests, yet it never felt empty. 

I can only recall one other time in my life (at my wedding) when I was so full of spirit/support/love.  But this night was better.     At the wedding, the enormity of the event swallowed me up and I retreated from the crowd instead of embracing them.  This party was altogether different and I’m blessed to have been part of it.

Thanks everyone for supporting our journey! (There will be pictures of the night as soon as my nephew emails them to me)


Our I-797 form is here!  For anyone who does not know, this is “the” form that takes nearly 90 days to process through the Dept of Immigration and it’s completion symbolizes the end to our long paperwork road.  We have been waiting to receive the I-797 for several months and our wait has ended.  Now the fun begins.  Once this form has gone through the rigmarole of being certified, authenticated, etc. then a matched child is close at hand.  Something that seemed so far away, suddenly stares me in the face.

A matched child.  A matched, freakin child!  Little P. will be here before you know it. Wow….

Through all of this, Reece has been a warrior.  We’ve both done our share but she has shown relentless persistence following every minute detail to the end.  Her unyielding efforts have paid off.


Add to this awesome news that Saturday is our silent auction and you have the makings for a wonderful weekend.  Several weeks back, Reece and I were nervous since all we had to auction were gift cards from LaRosas and one basket from the Oriental Wok. Now there’s cooking supplies, jewelry, purses, sports memorabilia, a mountain bike, pottery….and this doesn’t include the space, food, beer, wine, DJ services, time all donated by family and friends. To date, our amazing support group has compiled over $6000 in auction items.  That’s absolutely unbelievable. To say we are blessed would be a major understatement!  I am numb to it all.  Numb because it’s difficult wrap my mind around everything that has occurred thus far.

My prayer through everything is to remain focused on what this (the adoption process) is all about.  I wear a red cord/band around my wrist for reminders, but even then I get lost from time to time. Sorry to say, but Little Panda is not always in the forefront of my thoughts and there are days when I am consumed with “process” instead of “purpose” which is…her.  It has always been her.  I pray that after we see a picture of this little angel, my true intentions and focus will return.

But it’s funny….

God began the whole process by laying His relentless Spirit of conviction upon our hearts.  Sometimes I wish that feeling of basking in his Light were always there…but it’s not. Such an emotional/spiritual state is wonderful but thank God it’s temporary.  Who could endure such intense feelings without being consumed by them?  I believe God sent this initial spark to motivate us over the mountains that stood before us.  Once on course, He took those feelings away. I don’t mean He’s totally absent.  He checks in from time to time, turning me into a blubbering mess. But He knows what He’s doing…giving you just enough juice to get going, before letting you go.  You could compare God to a loving parent. The easy road (at first)  is to do everything for your kids, but eventually there’s a balance between teaching independence and allowing for mistakes.  I believe that is what God is doing for us (Reece and I).  Pulling us to our feet, then allowing us to walk, stumbling past the coffee tables and chairs of our life until we cruise on our own.

Something incredible happens,  “pressed down and running over” when people join in spirit and even though I’m numb from it all, I realize God is working through these people and circumstances to bring Little Panda into our home. My hope is that I can somehow give back to all of these people.  I don’t think it’s possible, really.  But I pray that each supporting heart will receive a blessing of reciprocating love.  I don’t know how to do this but God knows–and I will put everything into His hands where it belongs.

Losing Myself

Been feeling kinda lost lately.  Not because I’m forty…I’m over that for the time being…or at least until I hit fifty.  When I say lost, maybe what I mean is–overwhelmed.  Life can do that.  You get all geeked up over small, trivial things until they take over your mind creating a reactionary robot instead of a present being of thought and action.  I hate that this world wires us to live like scurrying mice, running through our hectic days as though every conceivable ounce of time should be efficiently spent. And what are we doing during those “efficient” moments?

Finding pictures of cross dressing cats on bing images, apparently.

We really over-estimate our importance don’t we?  When I think of all the time I spend updating Facebook, looking through my emails, checking voicemail and even writing in this blog it makes my head spin.  When did this happen?  When did our lives become hyper driven?  Better yet…how do we stop?

I have tried putting away my smart phone, turning off the laptop, forgetting about my profile on Linkedin, but a few days, hours or even seconds later I’m at it again–checking Facebook or answering the buzzing phone.  It’s beyond choice now. This world has conditioned me to do idiotic things like text while I’m driving (yeah, I hate to admit it but I do it), check the I-net during commercials and message friends during play time with my kids. 

That last part really stings.  I don’t want my kids seeing a father who appears absent, uncaring, distracted, aloof.  What message is that sending them?  That they aren’t important?  This sudden awareness of my habits comes during a busy time in my life.  To be fair, there are times when I need to multi-task and when the kids need to take a back seat, but those times are far and few between and I need to start thinking of how to be present with my family…but how?

I need to start asking myself: “What is really important here?” Is texting back a friend really worth plowing into a telephone pole at eighty miles an hour? Is deleting all of those voice mails or emails more important than playing with my son?

It’s simple, really.  But like most simple things, putting it into practice is not so simple.  Eckhart Tolle has made a career on this advice: Be present and in the moment, always.  I admit that such a mantra doesn’t make much sense when you’re charging through a day of work schedules, dropping kids at school, managing a budget, working out, supporting your spouse…add to this the adoption process and organizing a large party and you have a sure recipe for chaos.  But there is an eye to every hurricane.  and I am gonna try my best to find it each day and every moment.

What are the storms that keep you from being present?  What are you gonna do about them? 

Here’s one idea:

Good luck!

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate…

The other day I was treating a deaf man and trying my best to communicate with him.  Even though I know a little American Sign Language (ASL), talking with Bruce is usually not a big deal because he’s able to get his meaning across without words or signs. In short–he acts everything out like a 300 pound mime.  Most days, there isn’t much to say during therapy sessions.  Mainly, I want to know if my client is in any pain or what they want to work on…stuff like that.  I may want to discuss things like home safety or pain management, etc. but basically all I do is communicate what we are gonna do…then do it.  With Bruce it’s not that easy.  He’s a class “A”  clown who ends up signing that he hasn’t been laid in days or how his penis is useless (at least I think that’s what he’s trying to say????)  His wife (who is also deaf) thinks it’s hilarious which only encourages his clownish behavior.

I have to admit….he is pretty darn funny.

Even though it’s sketchy at times, my interactions with Bruce are functional, but I wish I could go deeper.  Our talks are shallow, like reading cliff notes of a novel instead of delving into its pages.  When questions get complex, I have to defer to his son who translates for me.  But when the kid isn’t home…I’m lost.  One day, Bruce rambled on and on about the railroad.  I know this only because he gave a few “Choo!  Choo’s!”  I thought he worked on the railroad and tried asking if he was talking about himself, but our language barrier prevented me from getting the whole story.  Later, I asked his son about it and found out Bruce’s father was a railroad engineer for thirty years.  I asked Bruce to repeat his story to his son–so I could understand, but he refused.

After my therapy session, I thought about what it would be like to raise a deaf child.  We’re still waiting to be matched and don’t know her medical issues…but what if Little Panda is deaf?  Will her days be lost in silence? Thinking about that motivates me to learn ASL.  Since Reece is fluent in ASL, I should pick it up easy peasy, right?  You would think so, but that’s not been the case.

Reece works with family’s of deaf kiddos and most days they embrace their child’s deafness.  These are the families who learn ASL or work to empower their child through cochlear implants.  Then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum or parents who are indifferent and never learn ASL.  Wouldn’t you want to communicate with your own child?

Am I different?  I’ve toyed with learning mandarin and continue to drag my feet with  ASL.  My excuses are:

Mandarin: there are dozens of dialects in China therefore learning mandarin would be a waste of time and effort

ASL:  first learn what Little P’s health issues are—THEN adjust accordingly.

Both are reasonable excuses, but imagine if I had put a little more effort into learning sign language. Perhaps I would understand why Bruce cares so much about his father.  Perhaps there would be less “closed books” in my life.

I need to get crackin!


Do you think fundraising for an adoption is unethical?


When I hear something totally against what I believe, my initial reaction is to get angry so when I read a post on Facebook about this topic, it fired me up.  After venting for an hour or so, I took ten slow breaths and read the post again. The words “appalling” and “embarrassing” were used to communicate the person’s viewpoint (i.e. fundraising for adoption is wrong.) The source was someone with several adopted kiddos from around the world.

So what?  This group (adopting parents) takes all kinds—right? What I didn’t realize was that the original thread came from an adoptee.  The general gist (in my opinion) was that anyone raising funds to adopt is treating their future child like a commodity–something sold to the highest bidder.  The idea sickened me, because it came from someone who lives that life…a life under the stigma of being adopted.

My mind flashed forward fifteen years.  Little Panda is now an adult and besides hating being called Little Panda, she has many opinions.  Will she be embarrassed…appalled that we asked for money to help bring her from China? Will she see herself as property rather than my daughter?

Complex–this whole deal is so complex. At face value you see a child in need so you follow your heart and do what you think is right.  Then you begin researching and peeling back all the layers involved and see things you never thought you would. For one moment I tried seeing this adoption through my future daughter’s eyes and…I couldn’t do it.  The paradigm shift was just too difficult.

But then I thought of the spark God put in our hearts for this little girl and guess what?….all of my worries vanished.  It’s a recurring theme in this blog (I know so sue me!) but I can’t help it.  God put His desire in our hearts and for some reason he wants the Danner family to include a little girl from China.  I realize this is difficult to understand.  I realize there are children in America…in my town that need love…need a home, but God wants it this way.  He wants us to take this leap and go the distance, all the way to China. So that’s what we are going to do and if people want to help us along the way, I aint stoppin em.

Would I ever have a fundraiser for my biological child?  No. But aren’t baby showers (sort of) the same thing?  This fundraiser/party is a wonderful opportunity for us to receive support from those we love.  As Reece said to me, besides a wedding, there aren’t many opportunities to share your life with so many family and friends.  We are going to enjoy the heck out of it!

Little P. is not a charity case and doesn’t need us to save her.  She is our daughter and our job is to bring her home.  Period.

One Step Closer to the Rising Sun

We received this glorious email the other day….
Just got the approval for your home study from the Dossier Dept. so I’ll be printing all the hard copies and sending everything to Julie.  She will forward the appropriate copies to USCIS and you for your dossier. Congratulations, you are one step closer!

Amy Kinnell

Adoption Caseworker
Yes one step closer. 
We also secured a place for the party/silent auction with my parents offering to pay for it. Pretty awesome!  Things are falling into place, just like I knew they would.  Now that we know this silent auction will happen the task comes down to finding donations.  There’s many, many options of course.  Family, friends and friends of friends have already come forth with ideas and items.  Also, there’s several companies who provide items (such as sports memorabilia) and will split the proceeds, but how far to take this? immediately my mind begins to say–
We don’t know what we’re doing.  What if we don’t have enough items to auction or what if nobody shows? 
Worried thoughts  of a busy brain.  But it really doesn’t matter.  I know things will work out. 
Just keep telling yourself that Billy boy.  
For the first time in this process, I posted on Facebook.  Within seconds (22 to be exact) I had friends reaching out from cyberspace. Most of these friends, I rarely talk to and some I haven’t  seen in years, but there they were, reaching out to help my family. 
I don’t care what anyone says (and I know I have said this before) people are naturally good.  I always knew this.  That’s why I chose to work with people on a daily basis.  But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of our inherent nature. 
Not to sound cheesy but I was pleasantly surprised.
One of first suggestions from Facebook was to use  Theresa and I discussed using another website for donations, but once I poked around Gofundme, it became the easiest course of action.  And you know what?  Those wonderful people I was just talking about have already raised nearly $1200.00 for our adoption!  One guy pledged $500!  This isn’t some independently wealthy business mogul either.  The man has his own family (two kids) and was someone I hung out with during my Roger Bacon (high school) days. To say I’m humbled by this experience would be putting it lightly. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this is that Reece (who swore off Facebook from the beginning) now has her own FB page. Will miracles never cease?  For anyone interested, here’s a link to our Gofundme page
Like I said, it’s all coming together.  Each experience, each donation, each generous heart brings us one step closer to the land of the rising sun….one step closer to meeting our precious little girl. 

The Space Between

We’re still waiting for this home study to be complete and I’m feeling discouraged. There’s still many hurdles to overcome.  Why does the system have to make this so difficult?  I understand we’re dealing with children and it’s best to error on the side of caution in regards to background checks and the like, but the longer this takes, the longer some little one goes without a loving home.  It’s one thing when it’s your child, but we’re talking millions of kids here.  The orphanages in China are literally bursting with abandoned children. Why isn’t a better system in place?    


Nobody wants to hear me whine so I’ll stop and instead fill you in on what else is going on (numbered in no order of importance).

1) Finding a place for our party:  We need a spacious venue for my 40th birthday party/silent auction. We investigated a few grade schools, churches, colleges and our neighborhood club but all are out of our price range.  Any ideas? If we can’t find an affordable place, then the auction will not be possible. (Insert frowny emoticon here)

2) Set up donations: We decided to get all our funding options in line before asking for donations. Services will include the chrome buffalo T-shirt drive, silent auction and a website for tax-free donations.  The idea is to get our party set up (sometime in February), then launch everything at once.  It’s a cool idea since the alternative is chaotic emails, letters, Facebook prompts, etc.   This way you get one letter explaining it all.

3) Ordering buttons or a red wrist band: This idea came from Geoffrey Shaw, former CEO of the Asian Bridge   Shaw discussed his journey (adopting a daughter from China) with me and mentioned an old Chinese legend called “The Red Thread of Destiny.” 

An invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.

This proverb is commonly used for passionate love (like the Westerners idea of soul mates) however the thread may also symbolize a connection between parent and child.  When a baby is born, he or she is already connected to the important people in their life.  As each year passes, the thread tightens, bringing each destined soul closer to this child.  The Red Thread is popular among families adopting from China with red bands or bracelets worn to symbolize the eternal bond between child and parent. Here’s one good example of the idea that I found online.

Rather than red bands, Geoffrey’s idea was to create buttons symbolizing your adoption journey. 


He suggested distributing the buttons to family and friends and saw it as a simple way of sharing your story with others.  “You’ll be amazed at how quickly the word spreads,” he said. “It’s the best fund-raising strategy that I know.”   

4) Opening up: When it comes to our personal lives, Reece and I are not very open. Being therapists, we are better at asking questions and listening than sharing our views with others.  But the truth is, we need to share this story. Not to boast or try to convince others that adoption is the way to go, but to fulfill a basic human need…the need for reassurance.  When you look at adoption stories online you see friends and family rally around the cause, giving their support.  Reece and I plan to build this support by reaching out more in 2014. 

So when we start talking about this scary, life changing process…ask questions, look in our eyes and tell us it will be okay.  We need that more than you’ll ever know.

Parenting the internationally adopted child 101

Still no match.  The only positive thing about that is there’s still time to prep for our new arrival.  Luckily, Reece and I are aware of some valuable resources such as:

Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen.

I won’t give you a book report, but here are some early highlights that I found interesting:

Seeing yourself through child’s eyes:  Cogen invited me to become our new child, where everything I knew disappeared forever.  I thought it would be easy, but it wasn’t.  We all have times where we start over.  A new school, new team, new job, new neighborhood…but to grasp the intensity of total change in EVERYTHING from language to customs, people, places…I can’t imagine how overwhelming that will be for her.


Establishing an identity:  The issue of self and identity will be recurring themes throughout our little girl’s life. She will be American, yet Chinese…a Danner yet a Lee, Chan, etc. Basically, she will always be pulled in two directions…two worlds. Cogan suggested researching the circumstances of your child’s adoption and sharing this story with them, no matter how grim. There will be gaps or holes in the story that may never be filled, but sheltering your child from the past will only prevent her true identity from taking root.

Linking behaviors to prior experiences: Cogen cited an example where a kid pooped every time she sat in a high chair.  The family became upset and attempted to dissuade her behavior but failed.  It wasn’t until they saw pictures of their child’s orphanage that they made a connection.  Sitting there in high def digital was a little toilet closely resembling their high chair. Turns out, their daughter’s inappropriate behavior was a conditioned response.

Family skills: Adopted children need more time learning basic skills like turn taking, sitting at meals, playing appropriately, etc.  Cogan suggested following family age rather than chronological age when gauging appropriate behavior.  What is family age?  Basically, it’s the time each child has been with their new family.

Why can’t there be a married age?  I think all men would benefit from that idea.

Establish a bond: According to Cogan, the bond between child and parent must be present before discipline is effective.  I see this with our son, who is so driven to please his mommy that any correction from her is devastating.  Seriously, it’s kinda sad to watch. But what if that bond was missing?  What would motivate Mitch to behave appropriately?


Not a good place to start when you’re trying to build that bridge of trust.

How are you reacting? Cogan interviewed parents of newly adopted kids and asked how dealing with problem behaviors made them feel.  The responses included: angry, resentful, lost, inadequate, numb…to name a few.  The author then invited each parent to imagine these emotions as mirrors of their adopted children.  In other words, a child who brings out your “anger” is probably dealing with that very same issue.

Teaching dependence: This strategy seems counter intuitive, but these kids have learned to survive on their own and must be taught to look towards their parents for help.  This survival instinct manifests itself in many ways such as the overly friendly kid who throws themselves at complete strangers or the boy who steals food from your dinner plate.  How do you teach dependence?  According to Cogan it’s a matter of constantly being available to your child.  This flies in the face of my parenting philosophy which teaches my kids to be independent and self-sufficient.  In fact, the author went so far as to encourage whining and clinging in your newly adopted child.  I don’t know about you, but whining of any kind is like fingernails on a chalkboard.


This new philosophy may take some getting used to.

What’s in a name?

So here we are…waiting on a few documents (our homestudy report and child abuse clearance form) before the mass notarizing process begins. Although I’m anxious about getting through all of this, the waiting is easier than expected.  Why?  Because we haven’t been matched yet.  Once that happens, this waiting-around becomes much more difficult.

As soon as we’re matched (and I hope it’s soon) CCAI will call us to share our child’s medical history.  At that time we have the option to accept the proposed match, or wait for another alternative. It’s a good process since it enables the adoptive parents to make an educated decision rather than keeping it purely emotional. Obviously, there is no guarantee your kid will be an exact match, but gathering evidence is the best defense against future strife.  As much as I hate to say this, some kids don’t belong with certain families and vice versa.

During this waiting time, Reece and I continue to knock around names for Little Panda.  Here’s a short list of our favorites:

Whats-In-A-Name1Aliviababy girl





Lu Lu



Okay the last three are my idea and have zero possibility of being Panda’s name but I still love em.  Alivia looks like the real deal but the rest are still contenders.  I’m sure once we meet our little one, her name will naturally fall into place.  Whatever we call her, Panda’s middle name will remain Chinese.  Since China is her birth place, Reece and I feel this will keep our youngest daughter close to her roots. 

Now that the dossier is in motion and there’s time to breathe, we are seriously brainstorming ways to fund this adoption.  Reece and I agree that asking for donations is difficult. Nobody was holding a gun to our head when we made the decision to adopt internationally.  As Theresa said, “Couples go through all sorts of expensive procedures (i.e. in vitro fertilization)  in order to have kids and you don’t see them asking for donations.”  So how do you ask friends, family and others to give their hard-earned money to such a cause?  There’s no easy answer here, but we both agree that whoever gives, should get something in return.

The question is what?  What would be a good thing for people to get back for helping Reece and I out with this adoption?  One idea came from this website:  Basically, Chrome Buffalo allows us (or anyone) to sell designer T-shirts with part of the proceeds going directly to the adoption.  Once in place, we will have eleven days to get as many sponsors as possible with each sold T-shirt providing eleven bucks towards our cause.  I think it’s a cool idea, especially since sponsors get something in return other than just gushy feelings. Since I’m writing this blog and have a Facebook account we figured, “why not reach out into cyberspace for help?”

Another idea we’re kicking around is using my birthday to help springboard donations.  Since I’m turning forty this year, why not bring Little P into the celebration? There’s a couple ways we could tackle this (simple party, silent auction, clown rodeo, etc.) Silent auctions are great, but for that to happen, we would need to find a lot of cool stuff to bid on. 

Nick LacheyDid I mention I know Nick Lachey?  No kidding.  The only problem is…I haven’t seen or talked to him in over thirty years. If I could somehow remind Nick of our friendship, then perhaps a silent auction would work.  Heck—one pair of his boxer-briefs alone would bankroll our fare to China!

Speaking of fundraising, one heart-warming donation occurred this week…

Our kiddos attend Immaculate Heart of Mary where fundraising is commonplace.  This week the entire school took part in Tag Day where kids can spend a day out of uniform for twenty-five cents.  All the money from Tag Day went straight  towards our adoption. 

How awesome is that?



Whenever I hear “this world is full of evil,” humans are parasites,” “people aren’t like they used to be,”  I’m reminded of things like Tag Day, and guess what?  All of those negative, miserable voices lose their power.  I believe that people are generally good.  Do you agree?  If not, take a look here: (Be patient—it takes awhile to load)

Amazing what one group can do when joined by a common purpose!

We all have the ability to change lives. Some (like Gandi or Nelson Manela) change nations while others provide hope in the little things.


In my humble opinion (IMHO for those who text) the meaning of life is to use your gifts for the benefit of others.  Even one pair of undies can make a difference.

You getting this Nick?


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