What You Can Do to Support Adoptees on Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th

As Adoptee Remembrance Day is approaching, I have felt like it would be essential to share a few things that we need from our friends, family, loved ones, and even those who aren’t close to an adoptee but maybe they know one. If you need a moment to reflect on what Adoptee Remembrance Day is about, please visit this link.

First things first, this day is 100% focused on the adoptee experience, and all it entails regarding adoptee grief, loss, abuse, mental health, deportation, and adoptee suicide.

While each topic carries significant weight, what we need from non-adopted individuals is for them to search deep in their hearts and understand that adoption might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Our society has failed miserably on every level of bypassing and ignoring the TRUTH regarding how adoption impacts adopted individuals. While adoption has been celebrated worldwide, the adoptee suffers in silence significantly.

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day to step into a new light that there is so much more to the adoptee experience than what our world has lead non-adoptees to believe. It’s a day to seek deep in your heart to find the willingness to listen and learn from adopted individuals that there is much more to the adoptee experience than what the adoption agencies, adoption attorneys, news, and society tell you.

I know you mihgt know an adoptee, and they say they have no issues at all.

Well, I know thousands of adoptees that DO have problems with it, and I have dedicated over ten years of my life to building relationships with them, listening to them, and validating them. We must collectively step out of a space of denial into an area of truth to better understand the trauma in relinquishment and adoption, regardless of all the given love.

While our world is focused on pushing positive culture, this is a day to reflect sorrow and sadness. Please understand that there is nothing wrong with this. Adoptees have never ending things to be sorrow-filled about and sad. Adoptee Deportation and Suicide are significant issues within the adoptee community. Adoptee grief and loss are not acknowledged by the Adoption community. Please save space for the adoptees on this day who need to sit and be sad. All they need from you is for your to listen and have the willingness to try to learn how they feel. If you are close to them, wrap your arms around them while they cry. Allow them the space to cry.

I’ve said it before, and I will repeat it, love isn’t enough or a house full of stuff. Love does not replace our lineage, lost memories, relinquishment trauma, grief and loss process, ethnicity, medical history, answers to our truth, citizenship, knowing who our siblings and biological kin are. Nothing can replace what is lost in adoption for the adopted individual, and until we can start to have these candid and raw conversations, adoptees will continue to die.

Adoptee Remembrance Day is a day for non-adopted individuals to press into this day and do everything they can to listen and learn. There are genuinely countless layers to the adoption experience, and they deserve to be addressed and brought to light. We’re asking for your support as you open your heart to learning that every adoption begins with a loss so significant, it could very well impact an adopted person for the rest of their lives.

We were hoping you would consider showing up in some way by making a public statement acknowledging the sensitive topics of this day. Maybe you will take part in this day by sharing articles and posts about this day. We were hoping you could support us by RSVP’ing to the Facebook event and invite your followers, friends, and family to the event.

Search the hashtags #ard2020, #adopteeremembranceday, and #adopteesweremember and soak in all you can on other adoptee experiences. This is a day to save space for adoptees’ experiences in deep pain, grieving losses they have been denied the right to grieve for an entire lifetime.

There are adoptees out there who consider themselves “saved by adoption,” and they might even be “thankful they were adopted,” however, I encourage them to step into this day with the notion of understanding that not all adoptees feel this way. I challenge you to learn, grow, and expand in your current knowledge and insight on how adoption impacts your fellow adoptees. Step into a space of grace and understanding to try to listen and learn how your fellow adoptees might feel. Please, whatever you do, don’t say, “That’s not how I feel” when another adoptee shares their feelings. We all deserve space without someone else coming behind us, running over our feelings, reminding us we need to be thankful or grateful.

If you don’t know any adopted individuals, you can still get involved on this day, and we need your support. Here’s an article that share’s ways you can help promote this day.  Promoting Adoptee Remembrance Day. Don’t forget to read how you can get involved on this day and the different things you can do to participate. Read here.

Last but not least, Adoptee Remembrance Day is going to be an emotional day for Adoptees everywhere. I am already crying daily just because we finally have the day to recognize the truth in adoption that I get emotional even thinking about it. I’m pretty sure on October 30th, 2020, and I will likely have a box of Kleenex with me all day because I know my emotions will be all over the place. Be easy on your fellow adoptees or any adoptees in your life. It’s not going to be easy for any of us, but so overdue and so very needed for the Adoptee Community.

For those who might not support this day or for whatever reason don’t feel it’s necessary, we respect your right to feel that way, however adoption has stolen enough from us. What we won’t allow is those who don’t support this day for the adoptee community to hijack this day by spinning the adoption is wonderful narrative. Sometimes being frank is the only way I can be because I always have to be true to me and the adoptee community. We invite you to take a seat, close your mouth and make the choice to not participate. Thank you very much.

Please realize that we’ve invited everyone to get involved on this day, and that includes biological parents, adoptive parents, and friends and family of adoptees. We’re saving space for you to share your thoughts on this day. Together, we hope to share our feelings, so healing begins to happen.  

We will be sharing an Adoptee Remembrance Day Agenda in the coming days. Be sure to share it online with your friends, families, and in your adoption circles.

If there ever was a time to share your voice, the time is now for my fellow adoptees. Make sure you tag Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th on Facebook and RSVP to our Adoptee Remembrance Day – October 30th Event. Use hashtags we’ve shared above.

Together, we’re collectively going to raise our voices, so the world will be able to listen.

Sending you sunshine, love, and light as this day approaches.

Please know you aren’t alone!

Love, Love

Taking My Adoptees Connect Hat Off

Photo: by Joshua Coleman / Unsplash

For now, but not forever.

Disclosure: This article does not mean I’m quitting Adoptees Connect, Inc. It means I’m taking the Adoptees Connect hat off when I share certain things about my journey, as well as when I write here in my blog.

One of my biggest struggles over the last few years of my life is the Adoptees Connect hat I wear. It seems the role I have taken on with Adoptees Connect is such a significant role, sometimes I’m wearing that hat more than my own personal hat. This is one of the reasons I’ve been working hard at setting some very consistent boundaries for myself.

When Adoptees Connect launched in January 2018, I truly had no idea what a commitment I was taking on, or how this would impact me personally or professionally. All I knew was that adoptees were dying, and they needed an in-person space to call their own. The internet was great for some things, but when an adoptee is at ends rope, ready to leave the world it’s unrealistic to expect them to have enough energy to get online and ask for help.

I set out on creating in person communities of others who understand their pain. I didn’t want this for ONLY my community, I wanted it for every adoptee community. I knew it was life or death for adoptees everywhere. Whatever I was taking on I knew it was worth it, because I finally found purpose in all the pain I had experienced in my life. It brought glimmer hope and healing to myself, as well as my fellow adoptees.

That doesn’t mean it’s been easy.

I’ve learned that even setting personal boundaries, and having an in person adoptee community that sadness can still set in, as well as complex adoptee issues. One of the many hard parts for me is having to wear the “Adoptees Connect” hat and represent Adoptees Connect, Inc. which has sometimes shadowed over my own thoughts and feelings. I’ve had to put Adoptees Connect first along with the vision and mission. In many situations that has caused discord with people for the simple fact I’ve felt like I’ve had to protect my vision, especially when I feel it’s been threatened. I absolutely hate this part of my role in Adoptees Connect. It’s been the worst part for me because I don’t like or enjoy discord. I do realize it’s a part of life but I will never like it.

I’ve learned that different people love what Adoptees Connect is about, and they want to be a part, and make commitments but when it comes down to doing the work they aren’t committed. I’ve learned that different people love what Adoptees Connect is about, but they have their own agenda which doesn’t necessarily align with the vision and mission of Adoptees Connect, Inc. They attempt to apply their vision to the Adoptees Connect vision and when it’s not in alignment, it creates discord, disconnect, and hurt feelings. It’s been very draining to say the least.

At the end of the day I’ve felt more times than I can count how many times I’ve had to confront people that due to our visions not being in alignment, and the outcome is it’s best we disconnect from partnership. This isn’t an easy thing for anyone to do, but to keep the commitment to the AC vision, it’s had to be done.

In my own personal life, this load has taken a toll emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Never once have I wanted to throw in the towel on Adoptees Connect, but sometimes I want to take the Adoptees Connect hat off when I share my feelings. Especially here on my own website when I share my feelings on my own personal journey.

I’ve always felt like my dedication and Adoptees Connect “Hat” has taken the forefront, even before my own personal life. I’ve kept a lot quiet because of fear of how others will respond to my struggles, and the role I play within Adoptees Connect, Inc. I can no longer do this for my mental health. One of my fears is, “What will others think of me?” “How will they respond that I’m feeling the way I am?”

This article is sharing that moving forward, at least on my website I’m having to take the Adoptees Connect “Hat” off so I can share my own personal struggles and experiences. I have promised myself I would be true to me, and in that I want to be able to help other adoptees with different struggles they might be having as things are so significantly changing for so many of us in our lives.

I hope my articles moving forward will help someone, and I hope others will give me grace in understanding that I’m human too like the rest of you. We’re all experiencing things differently than we ever have and allowing space for the different hats and changes we all wear is important. We should never have to hide pieces of ourselves to make others comfortable or out of fear. Thank you for understanding that making these changes for myself is a part of my self-care and personal boundaries.

Thank you for reading and I hope you are making changes in your life to accommodate your emotional and mental wellness at this current stage of your life.

Be easy on yourself.

You aren’t alone.

The Adoptee Expressway to Recovery Has More Than One Way 

img_7963I’ve learned the hard way, that the one way that’s usually presented as an express track to recovery and sobriety, isn’t the only way. I’ve also learned that there is nothing fast, quick or express about it. I’ve found that when one way is presented, this leaves one with absolutely no options to choose from in regards to making an informed choice regarding one’s very personal recovery journey. This is part of my life story. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again that someone’s recovery journey is as unique as their very own fingerprint and DNA. No two journeys are alike.  

I’ve been sharing my Adoptee in Recovery journey since August 13, 2012 and it’s no secret my main “addiction” was always alcohol. It was my “go to” to escape my adoptee reality. But the real question is, what was the reality I was running from? How long had I struggled with this addiction? What pathways to recovery did I try? What ways were presented to me? What were my root issues?

WHAT OPTIONS DID I HAVE? 

At 15 years old, I found myself locked in drug & alcohol treatment all alone. The only way out was to believe in God, a power higher than myself, and to work the 12 steps. I had no other options. By completing the 12 steps in 6 weeks, I graduated the program and it allowed me to go home. I had no knowledge of the AA Big Book before this, and I really didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the big book even after I worked the 12 steps. I was just “Going with the flow” because if I didn’t, I would never get to go home. Adoption was never talked about! 

If you read my previous article titled “Adoptee in Recovery, When Forged Forgiveness Becomes Fatal” you learned a little of my background of my drinking career. I don’t want to repeat everything from that article, so if interested, please read it and you can to get a little background. 

img_7964Today, I navigate my 2838th day living alcohol free, I’m just now coming to the head-space where I feel comfortable talking about this topic. After 7.5 years of a recovery process, If I’m completely transparent, my drinking started before I was ever born, in utero because I was told my birth mother was never seen without a drink in her hand, even through her pregnancies. It’s no wonder I started drinking so young.  

I’ve spent 45 years on this earth, my drinking career started at age 12 years old. That means I drank from 12 years old, to 38 years old. This is a 26 year drinking career! For an entire lifetime, I’ve been told I’m an alcoholic and I have always struggled with that thought. It’s made me feel “Bad” or “Defective.” Labeling myself an ALCOHOLIC for the rest of my life seems daunting, heavy, untrue and downright disgusting when I’ve been manipulated my whole life to believe this about myself. Being told I’m in DENIAL if I don’t label myself an alcoholic is abusive. I’m exceptionally happy I’m at such a healthy place in my own journey that I can recognize this as being unhealthy and toxic to my recovery. 

In the recovery world, I have never been able to verbally say, “My name’s Pam and I’m an alcoholic.” Those words have never set well with my spirit, even during the times in my life that I didn’t understand WHY. I remember a few times between 15 years old, and 38 years old I found myself in an AA room, because I knew I had a problem but the root of my problem was adoption, not alcohol. I know this now, but I didn’t know this as a 15 year old. If I was to share in an AA room about relinquishment trauma and how it’s impacted me, they would all look at me like I had lost my mind! I already know what they would be thinking, “What the HELL does this have to do with being an alcoholic?!” 

While spending the first few years of recovery in my late 30’s in and out of the AA rooms, this lets you know how much I took advantage of the open share of the AA rooms. ZERO. Because it was known that in order to share, I had to say “I’m Pam and I’m an alcoholic.” Me being stubborn is an understatement. I wasn’t going to say something that I didn’t feel in my heart was true just to be able to share, so I never shared. I just listened even after the first year. Even when I never verbally said I was an alcoholic, AA was known for alcoholics. I feel I was labeling myself as an alcoholic just by showing up at the meetings, even when I didn’t verbally say I was an alcoholic. Sharing is healing, and if I didn’t share at all in the meetings, it was stalling my healing. Period. 

I totally understand why AA/NA & Celebrate Recovery work for so many people. They provide community for others experiencing similar stages of life. They bring on new friendships, and a safe place to share. I think this provides amazing benefits for many people, and I’m happy about that if it works for you, or those you might know and love. My experience is different, but I have been able to take away some wonderful benefits from being a part of these groups, even if it was for a season. I learned a lot! 

 

Spending the last few years on the outside of any recovery organization or ministry, I’ve learned a lot as well. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned, and use it for good and help others who might be where I once was. I had to walk away from everyone I knew and loved when I decided to get sober. I know I hurt some people doing this, but I didn’t have to explain myself. My life came first, and it was life or death. All I have to do is see the faces of my kids, and future grand-kids and I’m reminded alcohol no longer plays a role in my life. I don’t need the label of “alcoholic” to remind me. The world hasn’t been on my side in this discovery! 

In those 26 years, not only was I forced to admit in my mind, and publicly by showing up at meetings that I was an alcoholic, but it was necessary that I believe in God. I was told I needed to forgive all those who have hurt me, and I was encouraged to make amends with those who have traumatized and abused me. I was told if I didn’t admit I was an alcoholic, I was in denial and denial would only lead to death, failed recovery, relapse, among other things. 

Somehow I finagled my way through the 12 steps MANY times, without ever verbally saying I was an alcoholic. In 2012, I would say, “I’m Pam, I’m in recovery for alcohol abuse.” but that was the closest thing I have ever come to labeling myself an alcoholic. It seemed to fit me and my situation better at the current time. It was more TRUE to me to say that, than attach a label to myself for the rest of my life. I absolutely despise labels, and I find them to be a box of confinement of rules and regulations that I refuse to fit in. Currently, May 21, 2020 I say, “I’m in recovery from LIFE and relinquishment & adoption trauma!” This suits me at this present stage of my life. See how the labels can actually hinder us and trap us in a space we have the abilities to move beyond? Especially the phrase, “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic!” –  Dangerous! 

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It feels so wonderful to share this publicly, and not feel like I’m going to get thrown under the bus in the process. I feel labels only construct us and hold us back within the limits of those ideas and we deserve the freedom to go far beyond that. I know I have one friend who understands this and that’s David Bohl.  David is also a fellow adoptee in recovery, and we see things very similarly. He’s given me the inspiration to share my feelings about such a complex topic and he continues to share his on his website. 

DavidBohl-headshot-740x1024David shares in his article called The World Post – AA,, “I’ve learned a lot from AA and I learned a lot from leaving it. The biggest lesson is the one that tells me I need to be kind with myself and that I need to stay as diligent about Reality as I’ve always been. I no longer live in the delusion that I can drink without some dire consequences and I don’t need meetings to tell me that. But just because I don’t go to meetings, it doesn’t mean that I’m off the hook from reminding myself every day and practicing what keeps me sober and happy.” –  David B. Bohl 

I can so agree with David about learning a lot from AA and also learning a lot from leaving it! Same with Celebrate Recovery. Today I asked myself, “Did I really have to admit I was an alcoholic in order to be in recovery, seek healing and wholeness in my life? Did I need to admit I was an alcoholic to stop drinking? How has this idea stalled my healing?”  What I’ve finally discovered is that, “NO, I don’t have to accept or admit I’m an alcoholic!” I can’t tell you how refreshing, freeing and wonderful this realization has been. If it’s true for me, it can be true for you too! We have to step into writing our own story, and stop letting others write it for us. 

Over a 20 year period, I learned that both my biological parents were alcoholics. I found out my biological mother was first, and it’s ultimately what killed her. Some years later I found my biological father, and I was told he was a raging alcoholic. He will likely die the way my birth mother did. Discovering these two very important pieces of my history is something that rocked me to my core. This is why ALL adopted people should receive 100% of their truth. It’s the KEY to healing!  You might ask, “How are both of your birth parents alcoholics and you are not when you drank for 26 years?” 

That’s easy for me. I don’t drink anymore, and I’m in recovery and I no longer have a desire to drink. I’ve put in the work to make changes. They, on the other hand are going to die from alcoholism as my birth mother already has, and my biological father is right behind her. If either of my birth parents put in the work to become sober, I wouldn’t label them alcoholics but they never got help, sadly. I broke the cycle and I’ve applied a lot of blood, sweat and tears to do this. I can not consciously attach being an alcoholic to my name and my legacy because of this. My kids are my motivation! 

I BROKE THE CYCLE NOT JUST FOR ME, BUT FOR THEM! 

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From my experience, in AA never admitting you are an alcoholic is denial. This thought process that influenced me kept me confined for a very long time! It’s very scary for a lot of people who are considering recovery or living an alcohol free life. From my experience, in AA, if you don’t label yourself an alcoholic, you will NOT make it. Relapse is inevitable and you will be told you are in denial. Let me be clear, I know AA, NA and Celebrate Recovery, and all the other recovery programs and ministries have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. I can find goodness in all of these programs. But due to my experiences with them, I can also take some steps back and see how damaging they can be. I’m not knocking them, or those who believe in them or those that are faithful participants of any of them. I’m just saying what worked and didn’t work for me, along with my views being on the outside looking in. 

Besides my three amazing kids, knowing both my birth parents were alcoholics was my motivation to want to be nothing like them. I didn’t want to be like them, and I didn’t want to die like them. I have wasted 26 years of my life, with alcohol being at the center of almost everything I did and I didn’t want alcohol to take anymore from my life, or my kids lives.  

The older I get, the more wisdom I gain, and the more I begin to think for myself. I never understood how labeling myself an alcoholic for the rest of my life would help me? If I’m doing everything in my power to become happy, healthy, and recover from my previous life experiences, why do I have to call myself an alcoholic, yet be manipulated into doing this? I never fell for it, and I have never been comfortable with ADMITTING I’M AN ALCOHOLIC. 

Today I celebrate 2838 days of living alcohol free, and I’ve made it this far never claiming the label of being an alcoholic. Can I agree I had an alcohol problem? Definitely. Can I drink today even if I wanted to drink today? No sir. I can’t. I know this and I have way too much at risk. I can also agree that the root of my drinking, and alcohol problem was relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma from my adoption experience. That’s my truth and that’s where I needed to put my focus if I ever wanted to be a happy, healthy individual. 

So how did I get to where I am when I’ve never publicly admitted I’m an alcoholic? Being true to myself was KEY. In order to know what that looked like, I needed to be by myself. I know not everyone can do this, or wants to do this. That’s okay.  I spent years, single not dating at all in order to learn who I am and who I’m not. What were my likes and dislikes at this stage of my life? I had to leave all the systems that were presented to me like church,  AA & Celebrate Recovery and walk away.  I had to create my own program that works for me which has been Adoptees Connect, Inc.  I walked away from many of the reasons (people, places and things) I drank to begin with, I got real with myself and got honest. I’ve applied the tools that I’ve been given and aligned them with what works for me and I’ve thrown the rest in the trash. Some of these things, others inside and outside of recovery settings might not agree with. I’ve learned to be okay with that. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I’m no longer collecting CHIPS for my recovery milestones. I collect ROCKS which are symbolic to me. I’ve found more healing in nature, chasing waterfalls than I have inside any church, program or ministry. 

MY WAY. 

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There’s a lot of stigma attached to recovery, that it has to be done a certain way. I’m no longer buying into it. I’m now doing things my way. Going against the grain is in my DNA but it’s been a significantly difficult journey to always be the one “not listening” or “not following directions.”  Or better yet, “THE REBEL WITH A CAUSE” – This is what I prefer to be called. 🙂 But here I am, 2838 days into sobriety and I have a story to tell on how I got here. The instructions of finding god, labeling myself an alcoholic and demanding forgiveness in order to heal and be in recovery has not worked for me, and news flash…

I’M STILL IN RECOVERY! 

I’M STILL SOBER! 

I HAVE A NEW FOUND LOVE FOR LIFE THAT I NEVER HAD BEFORE. 

MY WAY ISN’T ANYONE ELSE’S WAY. 

I’M OKAY WITH THIS. 

I BROKE THE CYCLE! 

I AM NOT AN ALCOHOLIC! 

I would like to share a message of encouragement for all my fellow adoptees in recovery, and anyone else who might be reading this article. You don’t have to admit you’re an alcoholic to get help, nor do you have to admit it in private. You don’t have to forgive everyone, or anyone for that matter. You don’t have to believe in God to get the help you need. I encourage you to explore other options outside of the 12 steps of AA, and religious settings because as times change, recovery doesn’t fit in a box. It’s not a “One size fits all” method like it was when I was growing up, and entering the recovery 12 step world in 2012. There are so many other options out there now. Keep searching until you find what works for you and realize that your way isn’t anyone else’s way. 

 One of the people who I follow and admire greatly is my friend mentioned above, David Bohl. Follow his Facebook, get his memoir. Read his article, Blue Mind and Relinquishees/Adoptees. The idea of being close to water and the healing dynamics to it is a very powerful healing tool! I can wholeheartedly agree, because this is what I get when I chase waterfalls. This is one of the many things that’s worked for us, but the mainstream recovery outlets aren’t talking about it. We learned it on our own and have a lifetime of experiences to back it up. Research Blue Mind.  You will be happy you did! 

TNM_book-hand-mockup_jan_2018-400x386Another sober living tool I’ve been following and learning about is This Naked Mind.  This Naked Mind has helped me realize that many people struggle with alcohol, and we have many options to try to seek understanding on the WHY, so we can make an informed choice on getting help.  I also encourage building a support system of other adoptees in recovery. Consider starting an Adoptees in Recovery® group via Adoptees Connect, Inc.®  I suggest EMDR Therapy because it has been highly recommended for adoptees, trauma work and inner child work is also a great step in healing. If you can find a Adoptee Competent Therapist at Beyond Words Psychological Services, LLC. I highly recommend it. 

268x0wListen to the podcast, Adoptees On. This has been a major healing tool for adoptees all over the world. Haley is a personal friend of mine and her gift of this podcast has changed the lives of so many people. She’s exceptionally gifted on creating a safe space for adoptees to share their adoption experience. In this, the validation that adoptees receive by tuning in is a valuable tool in our healing. Check her out!

I can share from experience, HANDS DOWN – I COULD NOT WORK ON RELINQUISHMENT AND ADOPTION TRAUMA WHILE I WAS DRINKING ALCOHOL. I HAD TO STOP DRINKING COLD TURKEY TO DO THIS WORK! I became suicidal mixing the two, so if you are TRULY wanting to work on your adoptee problems, trauma, and issues I suggest getting sober FIRST. After-all, that’s a huge part of the reason many of us drink and use substances to begin with. If you haven’t made that connection yet, here is a helpful video for you. Paul Sunderland – Adoption & Addiction.

We all deserve to know the truth that there are more ways than the one way that might be presented to us as contemplate entering into a recovery journey. Your “thing”  might be drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, sex, divorce, anger, rage, self esteem, abandonment, rejection, C-PTSD, and the list could go on. Alcohol was the substance I used to run from processing abandonment, rejection, grief, loss and trauma regarding my adoption journey. Keep searching for what works for you and please know that this world is now full of possibilities  to living a life of happiness and wholeness beyond the confinement of any programs, rules and regulations of others telling you how it needs to be done.

Do not settle for one way. 

Your way isn’t anyone else’s way! 

Sending Love & Light,

Pamela Karanova

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