Goodbye Ordinary

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us. Isaiah 63:7

Wrap-up of 2011 January 3, 2012

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Family — Lori @ 12:33 am

I left y’all hanging at the end of 2011 and there were some things I would like to share with you.  We had Levi’s adoption finalization on November 9.  The judge did a great job making it a special day.  She had made a sign congratulating Levi.  She brought cupcakes for all of us who who attended – there were about fifteen of us!  She also let Levi use her gavel.  He liked that.

He was rather confused by what we were there for.  He kept saying, I am already Levi Schneider; I am already your son!  He sure was, it just wasn’t quite legal in the U.S. 🙂

We laughed and were a bit nervous when the judge showed Levi a button and said to be sure not to push it because it called officers into the courtroom.  I am pretty sure she has forgotten the psychology of a seven year old.  Don’t say, “Don’t touch this really cool button that will make something really interesting happen.”  Okay, that isn’t what she said, but I bet that is what Levi heard!!  Anyway, we did keep him from pushing it, but he wanted to. 🙂

Once again we were reminded how very fortunate we are in the support that our family has.  We were so thankful for family and friends who made the not so easy trek to downtown Portland to attend the adoption ceremony.  We were watching a 2011 photo show at our church’s New Years Eve service and included in the photos were Kevin and I coming home from India with Levi last March.  One of the photos showed a picture of all the people who came to greet us – there had to be about thirty people.  It was truly overwhelming at the time to see all those people, but even after nine months seeing that photo brought back this rush of emotion and tears remembering all that we have to be thankful for.

We traveled to Medford for Thanksgiving.  It was a very special time with Kevin’s family – especially because his Dad has been battling cancer.  When someone you love is fighting a serious disease it really makes you reflect on life and what is important.  We had a time of sharing what we are thankful for and all of us could agree how thankful we are for Kevin’s parents and for the example they have been for all of us.  I so appreciate how the cousins have embraced our children and all of them enjoyed spending time together!  Here is a photo of the “kids” table which includes our Kelsey who is 22 and a cousin who was married just this last spring.

We had fun decorating the Christmas tree on December 3.  As Levi’s first time he was a mixture of excitement and confusion.  What did all these decorations mean?  There is so much to learn in a new culture!

The girls were in a Christmas musical play in December.  They had so much fun practicing for that and really loved performing it.  I got to watch them twice as they did two performances and it blessed my heart to see their happy faces as they sang about the true meaning of Christmas.   Here they are with two of their biggest fans, Grandma and GG.

We were so thankful that Kevin’s parents were able to drive up to see their play as well as spend time with three of their four kids’ families who live in this area and celebrate an early Christmas with us.  What was so exciting was the fact that Kevin’s Dad felt good enough to travel and it didn’t set him back.  Praise the Lord for that answer to prayer!

It has been our experience after losing our son Grant, that there are certain times of the year that bring your grief to the surface.  Christmas is one of those times.  A few weeks before Christmas I was sitting in church with the three younger kids beside me, listening to their voices singing out and I was just overwhelmed with how much God has blessed us.

I think of Job and how he had lost every one of his children and how he grieved for them.  In the end, God blessed him with more children and restored all that Job had lost.  I have often thought about how Job must have felt.  I think I now know.  He would have never forgotten the children that he had lost.  I am sure that as he looked around and smiled at the children God gave him after the tragedy he still had an empty place in his heart and pain for the children that were no longer there.  The new children did not replace the ones he had lost.  But, the presence of those children must have given him hope and filled him with awe at the faithfulness of God.  Well, I don’t know if that is what Job felt, but it is what I feel.  I am so blessed by the addition of our three special delivery children and thankful to my core for our precious daughter Kelsey.  But, I also miss Grant beyond words.  I miss how much he would have loved these new siblings and what a great big brother he would be.  Levi builds a special creation with his Legos and comes and wants to show me – just like Grant used to.  There is a mixture of happiness and loss in that memory.

Psalm 9:1-2   I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;   I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you;   I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.


Second Best? November 9, 2011

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Family,India — Lori @ 12:23 am

Adoption is a beautiful thing.


Families are God’s design for raising children.


There is pain and loss in adoption.


I really do not like that last sentence.  It isn’t that I do not believe that it is true.  I know it is true.  I have three adopted children.  I see their grief and loss.  I am not going to lie, there were times early in the girls’ arrival that I was annoyed that they didn’t understand how much we loved them and how we wanted good for them.  They were still looking back.  It is taking me a long time to understand that.  They still look back.  They will probably always look back in some way.

I have made peace with that.

The girls have asked me what happened to their Indian mom.  How do I explain something to them that I don’t even understand.  I have been given very little information about their relinquishment.  Kalindi’s memories are a bit jumbled.  She told me some things when they first came when she was able to communicate it in English.  It really doesn’t make sense and when I tried to check the story with her orphanage I was told that she was wrong.  They said that all the kids talk about their stories and they get confused about what their story is.  She also said that they watch movies and somehow parts of them end up in their story.  I don’t know if we will ever know the truth.

Kira has no memory of her mother.  She tells me, though, that she pictures her mom in her mind and even dreams about what it would be like to be back in India with her mom.  I am not going to lie, that hurts a little bit.  I do know how much she loves me and I know how much she NEEDS a mom and that is me right now.  She asked me some questions the other night that were basically, “What happened that I am not living with my Indian mom?”

I have no truthful answer for that.  I don’t know the real story.  I can only make guesses.  I always err on the side of giving their parents the benefit of the doubt.   I am sure their mom made the best decision she could for her daughters.

I guess the problem is trying to teach my girls to be content/happy where they are.  I can’t change their past.  This is their reality.  How do I let them know that their past is precious and important and will always be a part of them – and that is good – and yet help them to embrace their life now?

That the girls are working through all these feelings right now is probably very natural and very good for them.  It is a healthy step they need to take in order to make peace with what their life is now.

We had an interesting discussion in school today.  We were talking about Jesus and that Joseph was only Jesus’ guardian, he was not his biological father.  The concept we were learning was that Jesus is fully God and fully man.  Not an easy concept!  The girls asked questions because they weren’t sure they understood what I meant.  Part of their questions were answered by talking about their biological parents in India (and that we are now their parents, but we are not flesh and blood related) and as we were talking Levi said, “I don’t have any parents in India.”  The girls kind of giggled at that, but the truth of it is that Levi was an infant when he was relinquished.  He does not remember having parents.  I don’t think he even knew what he was missing.  I told him that he did have a mom and a dad in India, but that I do not know who they are or anything about them.  They did not give us any information and I am not sure if that is because they don’t want to or they don’t know anything.  I said that I didn’t know why his parents could not take care of him, but that they took him to the nuns because they knew he would be taken care of there and that they would find him a family.  He took all of that in very matter of factly.  I suppose the truth of all that will have to sink in over time.

Tomorrow is Levi’s adoption finalization ceremony at the courthouse.  The judge will officially sign his paperwork making him legally adopted in the U.S.  We had to wait until we had two post placement visits with the social worker before we could file for adoption.  All of the paperwork of the last two or so years is about to come to an end!

Levi enjoying his birthday dinner out.


Levi-isms August 1, 2011

Filed under: Adoption,Family,Kid Sayings — Lori @ 10:47 pm

Levi had a pretty good grasp of the English language when he came home with us in March 2011, but there is a lot of vocabulary yet to learn.  There have been a few priceless misuses of words that we have enjoyed.

One of my favorites is the question he asked a friend of mine who was visiting at our home.  She is a cat person.  She loves cats and owns cats.  Levi asked her, “Do you like puppy cats?”  We kind of chuckled and I explained to him that every baby animal has its own name and that a baby cat is called a kitten.  I thought he caught on, he is usually pretty quick about that.

However, at church a few weeks later, Levi was waiting for his Sunday school teacher and asked her sister where she was.  She was explaining to Levi that her sister was still at home taking care of her cow.  (This young lady has a “pet” cow. :-))  Levi then asked her, “Is it a puppy cow?”  That was when I knew my little talk about every baby animal having its own name was not as successful as I thought it was. 🙂

Just recently I bought a badminton set for our backyard.  The kids had played the game at a friends house and had a lot of fun so when I saw them on sale I purchased one.  The first night Kevin put up the net we all played and had a great time.  The next day I heard Levi asking his sisters if they wanted to go outside and play “bad man tennis”.  That just cracks me up!  Doesn’t that just conjure up the funniest picture?


Earning Their Trust July 29, 2011

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Family — Lori @ 1:52 pm

I was marveling today at how quickly Levi has shown me that he, in some small measure, trusts me.  It really didn’t take him very long at all to feel comfortable sharing very personal things with me as I tried to help him learn how to care for himself and as we sought treatment for medical issues.  I was overwhelmed today with the great responsibility that I have been given and how precious the gift of his trust is.

Levi had a corrective surgery on 7/26.  He was born with some defects that needed to be corrected of a urological nature.  In addition, as they did the surgery they encountered a couple of hernias that needed to be repaired.  He was in a lot of pain on the day of surgery at the hospital as the anesthesia and initial pain meds wore off.  Isn’t it awful watching our children be in pain?  I can hardly stand it!  You feel so powerless to help.  The trip home was uncomfortable for him, but once he was ensconced at home with everyone waiting on him and making sure he was comfortable, he did very well.

Levi was pretty funny on that medication they give kids to help them relax.  We got some good video of him in the pre-surgery room, but as is always the case, as soon as the camera was off he was even more hilarious!  When the surgeon came out to tell us how the surgery had gone he was laughing and said that Levi was a sweet boy.  He said that Levi sat up and grabbed his face with both hands and said, “I really like you” and planted a kiss on his cheek.  The surgeon said it made his day. 🙂

I was so thankful that the day after surgery I was already having to caution him not to run. 🙂  Kids are so resilient.  However, he can’t

Home with "Jet" who was still wearing his surgical mask. 🙂

run.  He really needs to be careful so as not to tear any stitches or fall and injure himself at the surgery site.  In fact, I was told his activity will need to be restricted for about a month.  For a boy whose favorite activities are physical that is going to be HARD!

I was reminded of a line from Jane Austin’s “Persuasion” as I have been trying to keep him calm and quiet.  It is Mrs. Musgrove speaking about her grandchildren and what she has to do to keep them from tearing her house apart.  “….or that one can only keep in tolerable order by more cake than is good for them.”

That is how I am feeling about television/movies at the moment.  He is watching more than is good for him!  Certainly more than I like my kids to watch.  However, it is the one activity where I can keep him quiet and I don’t have to tell him to be careful, don’t do that, or stop running!  He is actually on the back patio right now having some kind of Kung Fu fight with his Sulu (Star Trek original series) action figure and the headless Ken doll.  🙂  Can you guess that he has watched Kung Fu Panda twice already since his surgery?

Levi and I had an interesting conversation last night at bedtime.  We were discussing the fact that he was not listening to what he was being told.  He always has a very hard time listening.  Quite frankly, what he has a hard time with is self-control – keeping himself from doing what he desires and obeying what we have told him to do.  I was trying to explain to him that parents teach their children to obey to help him, not to be mean.  We have rules to protect him.  He does not understand this concept in the least.  At the orphanage it seemed like the caregivers had their hands full with the little ones and with some sick kids.  I do not think that Levi had to answer to anyone very often.  I think he pretty much did what he wanted.  Once when we were doing a phonics workbook and I was again trying to get his attention I asked him if he was in trouble a lot in school in India.  He replied, “Yes.  I got a lot of spankings.”  Somehow, I am not surprised.

Kalindi is off to camp on Sunday.  She is so excited she can hardly stand it!  She had such a good time last year.  She made it sound so much fun that Kira is wanting to go next year.

I had some strange homemaker thing come over me (or else I was longing for summer while we were having our wintry spring!) and I ordered berries (strawberries, raspberries, marionberries and blueberries!) from a local Rotary club.  Yes, I went a little crazy.  It sounded much more doable before I saw how many I got with each delivery.  I have bags of these berries overflowing in my freezer along with a double batch of strawberry freezer jam, and a marionberry/raspberry freezer jam double batch.  Kevin is hoping he gets some berry pies out of this bounty.  I am sure I will do that for him.  Oh, that reminds me!  I have a giant bucket of blueberries waiting for me to bag!  I better be off to do that.




How Things Are Going June 11, 2011

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Family,Parenting — Lori @ 10:21 am

I am not surprised that it has been more than two months since I last posted about our family.  Adding Levi into the mix has been…….exhausting.  🙂  Before he came home we had settled into a comfortable routine with our family the way that it was and then we threw in some dynamite!

Seriously, it has been very interesting.  The girls were so patient and kind to Levi for the first month to month and a half.  They put aside their own desires and devoted themselves to him.  I think that is just amazing and I am so proud of them.  It made the initial adjustment so much easier.  However, it also lulled Levi into a false idea of what normal life around here would be like.  🙂

He is now dealing with the realistic situation – that it is NOT all about him!  Now, we all need to learn that at some point in life, right?  From what Kevin and I have gathered from information we have been given (or saw ourselves) there was not much that Levi was told he could not do in India.  The nuns were great as far as showing love and taking good care of the children, but there was not much discipline.  I am very grateful for their good care of him – don’t get me wrong!  Levi is very charming and he flashes his smile and figures that everyone is going to fall in line and align with his will and all will be right in his world.

It doesn’t happen that way around here and I think he is still getting used to that.

The girls have had a huge adjustment as well.  There are a lot of things at play.  Boys are unashamedly esteemed higher than girls in the Indian culture.  Everyone knows it.  The girls know it.  When we told them that we were going to adopt a boy (they were hoping for a little sister) they asked a lot of questions trying to find out how that would change things around here.  They point-blank asked if we would love him more than we love them.  Although we did talk about this and assured them that we loved and treated our daughters and sons the same, they were still worried when he came.

The girls have grown and matured so much in the last three years.  They do not remember that they behaved in much the same way that Levi is now.  That has been a good lesson for them.  They will be exasperated with Levi and I will say, “You did the same thing when you first came.”  They are shocked! 🙂  In the same way, it is encouraging to us to remember how far the girls have come and to remind ourselves that Levi will get there as well.

When Kalindi told me that she had the most annoying little brother in the world I informed her that EVERY big sister said that about her little brother.  “Really?” was her response.  We have a lot of talks around here about how to get along with each other.  I have read 1 John 4:7-12 several times with all three kids and talked about what it means.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

What a wonderful opportunity to teach my children that it is through God’s love that we are able to love each other and in so doing we show the world God’s abundant love for us.

So, great things are happening, but it has me very busy.  I have told many people that this time of parenting Levi is like boot camp.  We are trying to strip away what he has been taught or learned before and replace it with the way we live in our family.  This entails a lot of time and energy and consistency.  We have seen it work with Kalindi and Kira and so I continually remind myself that the effort is worth it.

If you think about us, you can pray for all of these adjustments.  We would really appreciate it!

The girls have completed their year of schooling although we will continue with reading and math through the summer.  They each did their achievement tests and did very well.  Kira scores higher in reading, Kalindi scores higher in math.  Not a surprise to their teacher! 🙂  I have done very little school with Levi.  It was frustrating trying to work him into our established routine when he was so hard to focus and keep on task.  Levi is working on kindergarten level material.  He knows all his letters, most of their sounds, his numbers and easy addition.  I think he is very smart, but I also think his brain is working at warp speed.  It is going to be a challenge to juggle everyone, but I will figure it out.

Kira is excited about a month-long reading intensive summer school she will do this summer.  Kalindi is looking forward to beginning a new program that should help her with some of her reading difficulties.  It is a six month program that she and I will begin next week and work at it six days a week!  If it helps her it will be well worth it.  Kalindi is also super excited about going to junior high camp this summer.  Junior high!  Can you believe that?  Kira turned ten in May and Kalindi will turn thirteen in a couple of weeks.  Wow.

In other news, both Levi and Kira learned to ride a two-wheel bike without training wheels.  Kira has been afraid to give it a try after several spills.  I think watching her little brother learn in about twenty minutes gave her the nudge to try it herself.  She is doing great!  That reminds me about Levi’s approach to physical activity.  Let’s just say that if I didn’t color my hair I would probably be completely white at the roots!  He comes and gets me and asks me to come watch him do “Some incredible thing!” on his bike or scooter or the play structure.  Boys and girls approach life completely differently, don’t they?

Levi is a sweet boy and is beginning to show us some affection.  If I try to put myself in his place I cannot imagine how hard it would be to all of a sudden be placed in a family and be expected to trust and love them.  Can you imagine?  It is a slow process, but we do see some good signs of him learning that we can be trusted and that we love him.

I would love to hear from you if you have any questions.  I am always trying to promote older child adoption – there are so many kids sitting in an orphanage wondering what their futures might be.  It is not an easy road, but it is an amazing, wild ride!  Even if you can’t adopt, support and encourage an adoptive family or support an orphanage or orphan ministry.  There are a million of them!

Well, that is all for now.  I just wanted to give you an update.  I will try not to wait another two months for the next one. 🙂



Kalindi – Queen of Camp July 30, 2010

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Family,Kid Happenings — Lori @ 10:49 am

It must be hard to live in the shadow of a little sister who has a personality that draws attention and smiles.  Kira is just a larger than life kind of girl.  She is full of energy and drama and, boy, can she talk! 🙂  Kalindi’s week at camp gave her the opportunity to shine all on her own.

Kalindi’s week at camp was successful on many levels, and not just for her.  However, I will begin with how the week impacted her life first. 

I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive when we were dropping her off at camp.  She has only been with us for a little over two years and although she communicates very well there is still a lot that baffles her.  She also does not read up to the level of the average American kid her age.  I was a bit worried that she might get teased or feel inadequate.  I also knew there would be a lot of physical challenges with new activities and, again, I was worried that she wouldn’t be able to handle them.

Kalindi on the zip line

I am thrilled to say that I had nothing to worry about.  My first glimpse of Kalindi’s face when they called her name during the pick-up at camp was a girl who was completely confident in herself and had matured about a year in that weeks’ time.  She was chatting with a group of girls when I saw her and she turned when she heard her name, but the look on her face never changed.  I was a bit disappointed as my mommy heart would have liked a bit of excitement from her, but I was so proud of her in that moment!

In the car, she opened up and began telling story after story of all the fun she had that week.  She would be sitting there quietly and all of a sudden say, “Oh, I have to tell you this – it is so funny!”  I asked her questions and I just smiled at her enthusiasm and excitement.  She isn’t usually like that.

The girls in Kalindi's cabin.

Now to explain my post title.  When Kira and I were in line to pick Kalindi up they had the camp DVD projected on the wall.  I have to say I was very impressed that they had made up this DVD to hand to all of us at pick-up that had still photos as well as some video from that week of camp.  I was surprised and pleased in my few minutes viewing that I saw Kalindi in it several times.

When I was talking over the week of camp with my friend, Beth, who had been Kalindi’s counselor I was told that Kalindi was a bit of a camp favorite.  Beth told me that she didn’t know how it had happened, but every camp worker seemed to know Kalindi.  She said she was surprised at how many of them came up to her and mentioned Kalindi, said glowing things about her, and asked Beth how she knew her.  It seems that also answers the question as to why Kalindi is in so much of the camp DVD.  I think there is a photo of her doing just about every activity that she participated in. 

This was a wonderful week for Kalindi.  She was able to be herself.  She could open up and be silly and funny and she did not have a little sister around that she felt responsible for.  I have often thought that Kalindi acts much more mature than her age.  She has had to take on responsibility at a young age that we rarely ask of our teenagers.  I am sure she felt responsible for her sister at the orphanage and Kalindi has told me that she used to watch Kira as a baby/toddler when her mom would go off to work.  Keep in mind Kalindi is only three or so years older than her little sister.

Beth told me that Kalindi was quiet at first, but she made a bosom buddy at camp and Beth said they were inseparable.  Kalindi does have this surprising wit that can catch you off guard and she displayed that in abundance at camp.  She also had to learn to deal with girls who aren’t always nice – something we all have to do in life.  She was inspired by a speaker who told her life story that included being born to a drug and alcohol addicted mother, lived an unspeakable life as a child, and was finally adopted and made part of a family when she was a teenager.  Kalindi really identified with this lady and asked Beth is she could speak with her.  After the talk, in cabin discussion, Kalindi opened up and talked about her life and shared what the Lord has done for her in bringing her to a family in the U.S. who has taught her about Jesus.

I am SO proud of her!  She is such a gift.  I feel like because of this week away from home, I know Kalindi better than I used to.  Maybe she also knows herself a little better.

So how did Kalindi’s week away affect Kira?  Well, I was actually more worried about Kira than Kalindi.  Kira has many fears.  One of them is being alone.  Three guesses why that might be – and the first two don’t count.

Kira did cry that first night she had to sleep in her room alone.  I laid down with her and read her a story and prayed with her, but I felt like she needed to face this on her own.  I never would have let her get out of control.  I was keeping my ear open to make sure she was handling it okay.  I didn’t want to push her too far, but this was a great opportunity for her to realize she had no reason to be afraid.  We talked a lot about her fears – one fear she expressed was that she would lose Kevin and I.  I told her that I couldn’t promise her that nothing bad would ever happen, but I could promise her that Jesus would always be with her.  I asked her to think back in her life and remember all the times that the Lord took care of her.  We have done this before so it wasn’t a new idea.  It was a great growing time for her faith.

She did really well.  It did take her awhile to go to sleep that first night, but the second night she was absolutely fine.  So, the week Kalindi was at camp was really good for Kira too.

Kalindi’s week away taught me some things too.  I need to pay special attention to Kalindi in these important pre-teen/early teen years of growing and maturing.  I need to give her activities that she can do on her own that are just for her.  This is something that I am going to have to put some effort into. 

Thanks for reading!


Teetering July 13, 2010

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Family — Lori @ 10:31 pm

To tell you the absolute truth I am teetering at the moment.  I am on a tightrope of faith and trust and trying with all the prayers I can muster to keep my balance.

Our home study for our adoption will expire next month.  That means that it has been a year since we have completed that document and began work on our dossier.  (This also means that it must be updated which involves more paperwork and more fees.)  It has been nine months since our dossier arrived in India – well, it is barely in India.  It is actually sitting at the U.S. Embassy waiting for a visa photo of Levi that the orphanage needs to provide so that it can proceed to the next step.  We have been doing a lot of big, fat waiting and I am really sick of it.

I am to the mad place.  Ask me who I am mad at and you won’t get a coherent answer.  There really isn’t a “good” answer.  I am not sure who to blame.  Is it the orphanage’s fault for saying they would support our family to adopt one of their children even though we already have three children in our home and they knew our getting approval was a risk?  Is it the orphanage’s lawyer who is at fault because he feels it is best to keep our paperwork in limbo while another case of theirs is decided in the Supreme Court of India because the District Judge threw out their case because they already had three children in their home?  Or, is it Kevin’s and my fault for embarking on this somewhat crazy venture in the first place?  And, believe me, there are plenty of people who think we are crazy!

Ultimately, this is in God’s hands.  So, if I am going to assess blame that is where it lands.  I don’t think the Lord has any problem taking the “blame”.  He knows the beginning from the end.  He knows what is best for me, for Kevin, for Kelsey, for Kalindi and Kira, and for Levi.  I believe that with all my heart.  His ways are perfect and just – they just don’t always make sense to us.

I wish the Lord would give us a bit of a head’s up on what we should do.  How long do we wait?  What do we do if the answer is no?  I really do not know what we should do.  Is all the wait worth it?  I know the answer to that is yes!

Psalm 145:14-21  

14The LORD upholds all who are falling
   and raises up all who are bowed down.
15The eyes of all look to you,
   and you give them their food in due season.
16You open your hand;
   you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17The LORD is righteous in all his ways
   and kind in all his works.
18The LORD is near to all who call on him,
   to all who call on him in truth.
19He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
   he also hears their cry and saves them.
20The LORD preserves all who love him,
   but all the wicked he will destroy. 
 21My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
   and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.


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