Fertility Benefits – A look at the most generous employee benefits out there today

Hoylman

Fertility Benefits – These companies are adapting to workers’ needs, from shipping breast milk home to paying for gender transition.

Jackie Geilfuss recently submitted an unusual expense report to her employer: $6,285 for the purchase of sperm.  Some employers are covering fertility benefits.artificial insemination

Geilfuss and her wife are planning to have a baby. As a same-sex couple, they face thousands of dollars in costs to conceive a child, including the expense of donor sperm. Struggling with the financial burden, they turned to friends and family for help. Then, a few months ago, Geilfuss’ employer announced it would start reimbursing employees up to $20,000 for nonmedical costs to have children.

“This benefit is life-changing for us,” says Geilfuss, who helps employees manage the implementation of new systems at Akamai Technologies, an Internet services and technology company in Cambridge. “We were ready to be parents a long time ago, but it wasn’t something we felt was feasible. We weren’t in a financial position to do that.” Geilfuss and her wife, Jessica, began fertility treatments this month.

Akamai is among a growing number of local companies that have expanded their employee benefits beyond standard medical coverage, often looking at options to add through the lens of diversity and inclusion. Several large employers now offer new fertility benefits to help single people and same-sex couples start families. Some are adding supports for new mothers, or broadening coverage for people transitioning from one gender to another.

“It’s a really hot topic,” says Liz Spath, a Boston-based benefits consultant at the consulting firm Mercer. “They’re looking to programs like this that really drive culture. Anything that’s family-friendly and lets people bring their full selves to work is top of mind.”

Expanding benefits can be expensive, but there are many potential advantages for employers that do, including recruiting and retaining talented workers, fostering a corporate culture that appeals to clients, and improving their rankings on job sites.

“It does play a role in helping candidates understand what we’re all about and where we place value,” says Sarah Sardella, senior director of global benefits at Akamai, which now reimburses employees for costs of surrogacy, donor sperm, and donor eggs.

BostonGlobe.com, November 14, 2019 by  Priyanka Dayal McCluskey

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Federal Court Overrules Board of Immigration Appeals’ Denial of Spousal Petition by Gay Man

Trump appeals court

U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland, an out lesbian whose nomination to the federal bench by President Donald J. Trump was recently confirmed by the Senate, has ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) erred in denying a petition by Thomas Valdivia, Jr., a U.S. citizen, to award spousal residency rights to his husband, Radu Cheslerean, a Romanian citizen.  Valdivia v. Barr, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191616 (N.D. Ill., Nov. 5, 2019). 

The Board, affirming a district director’s decision to deny the petition, rested its ruling on its conclusion that Cheslerean had previously married a woman in order to obtain U.S. immigration benefits.Trump appeals court

The story begins on December 31, 2005, when Cheslerean attended a New Year’s Eve party and met Nina Garcia, whom he married about a month later.  In August 2006, Garcia filed an I-130 Petition with the Immigration Service, seeking U.S. spousal residency rights for her husband. That November, Garcia and Cheslerean went with their lawyer to an interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Chicago.  After the interview, nothing happened until July 31, 2009, when the Chicago office director issued a Notice of Intent to Deny the I-130 petition.  In September 2009, USCIS denied the petition and Garcia appealed to the BIA, which dismissed the appeal in February, 2011.  Several months later, Garcia and Cheslerean divorced.  The Judgment of Divorce states that they “lived separate and apart as of March 15, 2007, and had no children together.

Several years later, Cheslerean married Valdivia on May 17, 2015.  On September 6, 2016, Valdivia filed an I-130 petition on behalf of Cheslerean, and the men were interviewed at the Chicago Field Office on January 12, 2017.  When the office issued a Notice of Intent to Deny, Cheslerean submitted an affidavit explaining his two marriages.  He stated that in his “relationship with Nina, we did not plan ahead, or have insurance or much other evidence of a commingled life because we had very little money, and any savings we had we would just spend.  We were young and immature and didn’t think about the future or plan ahead.”  Describing his relationship with Valdivia, Cheslerean wrote that he grew up in a conservative Christian orthodox family that treated homosexuality as a sin, and “coming to terms with who I am and living my life authentically as a gay man was a painful journey and it took me a lot longer than it takes other gay men these days.”  But the Chicago Director denied Valdivia’s petition in March 2017, and the BIA dismissed his appeal on December 14, 2017, leading to this lawsuit.

The premise for the BIA’s decision is a section of the immigration statute that says a Form I-130 cannot be approved if the beneficiary (in this case Cheslerean) has ever sought immigration benefits based on a marriage entered into to evade immigration laws — what the Immigration Service refers to as a “sham marriage.”  The agency and the BIA concluded that the marriage with Garcia had been for the purpose of getting immigration benefits and was not a genuine marriage.  Cheslerean tells a different story, and in this lawsuit, Valdivia and Cheslerean contend that neither marriage was a sham marriage, each was genuine in its own way, even though the earlier one did not last very long and came apart when Garcia’s I-130 Petition was finally denied by the BIA.

The BIA specifically emphasized an affidavit that Valdivia had filed in 2009 in support of Garcia’s petition of the I-130 on behalf of Cheslerean.  The BIA argued that “Valdivia offered no explanation in his 2017 affidavit (submitted in support of his own I-130 Petition on behalf of Cheslerean) why he did not include his account of the 2007 events in his 2009 affidavit filed in support of Cheslerean’s marriage to Garcia.”  In responding to this lawsuit, BIA argued that the two affidavits “created issues of credibility for all concerned” because Valdivia’s 2017 affidavit “made it obvious that he was being less than fully candid in August of 2009 when he did not disclose the true nature of his relationship to Cheslerean.”

artleonardobservations.com, November 12, 2019 by Arthur Leonard

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More than half of top US newspapers failed to cover Trump’s anti-LGBTQ foster care and adoption rule

Trump anti LGBT

Only 22 of the nation’s top 50 newspapers reported on the November 1 rule allowing discrimination against LGBTQ youth and prospective parents

Most of the top 50 newspapers in the U.S. failed to cover a proposed anti-LGBTQ rule from the Trump-Pence administration’s Department of Health and Human Services that removes language protecting people from discrimination in HHS grant programs, including protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Trump adoption Foster care

The proposed rule, introduced on November 1, will allow federally funded adoption and foster care agencies to refuse to work with prospective LGBTQ parents. The rule will also apply to grants involving “HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevention, other public health initiatives, health education, prekindergarten programs and more,” according to The Washington Post. HHS said it would begin enforcing the change immediately. 

The Trump-Pence administration’s most recent anti-LGBTQ rule is part of its relentless crusade against the rights of LGBTQ people. Over the past three years, the administration has rolled back federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing, health care, education, and employment, among other areas. 

The new anti-LGBTQ rule will have particularly devastating effects on children in the U.S. foster care system. Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at the LGBTQ advocacy group Family Equality, has said that the rule will “further limit the pool of loving homes available to America’s 440,000 foster children.” Considering that LGBTQ youth are already overrepresented in the foster care system and are more likely to face foster care placement instability, it is clear that this rule will further marginalize an already vulnerable population.

A Media Matters review of the top 50 U.S. newspapers — identified by average Sunday circulation according to Pew Research Center — found that 28 did not run a single news report in print or online about the HHS rule following its announcement on November 1 through November 10. These newspapers were:

  • The Arizona Republic, The Boston Globe, The Buffalo News, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, The Columbus Dispatch, El Nuevo Dia (Puerto Rico), Detroit Free Press, The Indianapolis Star, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Los Angeles Times, MLive (Michigan), NJ.com (New Jersey), Newsday (New York City), New York Post, The Orange County Register, Omaha World-Herald, The Oregonian, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk), Honolulu Star Advertiser, Chicago Sun-Times, The Post-Standard (Syracuse), Tampa Bay Times, The St. Paul Pioneer Press, and USA Today.

Twenty-two of the top 50 newspapers did feature online or print news articles on the new rule, including running stories from The Associated Press and other wires, from November 1 through November 10:

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Hartford Courant, The Kansas City Star, The Mercury News, San Antonio Express-News, New York Daily News, The New York Times, Orlando Sentinel, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Sacramento Bee, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Star Tribune (Minneapolis), St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sun Sentinel (South Florida), The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

Two outlets — NJ.com and The Boston Globe — ran op-eds about the rule but no news reporting. 

MediaMetters.org, By Alex Paterson, November 11, 2019

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K-pop star Holland on coming out and providing a voice for LGBTQ people in South Korea

K-pop star Holland

K-pop star Holland is walking the path less travelled with pride.

The South Korean singer, commonly referred to as the ‘first gay K-pop star Holland idol’ in the media, made a massive step for queer representation in his home country when he emerged onto the music scene last year as an out and proud artist, putting his sexuality (and his heart) on the line as he sang about discrimination and wanting to escape to a place where he can love freely on debut single Neverland.K-pop star Holland

The music video featured a same-sex kiss, which disappointingly gained it a 19+ rating in South Korea. Despite this, it still managed to rack up over one million views in under 24 hours, and received a mostly positive response from music fans. Since then, he’s dropped his first mini album, the self-titled Holland, and continues to provide a voice for South Korea’s queer community.

“LGBTQ rights in Korea are still not very progressive in comparison to some other countries,” he explains. “Even the fact I debuted [as an openly gay singer] in Korea gained lots of attention here. I want to be a person of good influence by sharing my story and music with the public, and by interacting with fans.”

As he prepares for his upcoming full-length album – which we’re promised is coming soon – we caught up with Holland to talk about life for the LGBTQ community in South Korea, why it’s so important for him to highlight same-sex romance in his music despite the potential for backlash, and what his experience has been like as an openly gay man in the K-pop industry. 

Congratulations on releasing your first mini album Holland! How does it feel to know that people are listening to it and enjoying it?
I am just so amazed, and I feel so loved, way more than I ever thought I deserved. I also do feel a sense of responsibility and pressure to do better and work harder. I want to be able to reach a point where lots of people accept that I am indeed worthy of love and respect. I am also so grateful for the fans who fully understand what I was trying to say with this album. 

Where did you get your inspiration from when creating the mini album?
It’s a combination of my past relationship history and the messages I’ve wanted to tell my fans. It’s 100% my story, and my story only. I really tried to put all my raw emotions that I have felt over the past year – both before and after my debut. In the end, it’s ultimately myself that inspires my own music. 

daytimes.co.uk, November 11, 2019 by Daniel Megarry

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Is It Selfish for a Gay Couple to Have Kids via Surrogacy?

Ethics

My husband and I are gay and are exploring the possibility of having children using an egg donor and a surrogate mother.

Sometimes when we mention this in conversation, people ask us, in a chiding tone, Why don’t you adopt? They often then argue that with so many children in need of good homes, it would be ethically superior for us to adopt, instead of spending a small fortune so we can have children to whom we are genetically tied. In addition, there are ethical issues related to paying women for their eggs or paying women to carry our children as surrogates. Are we acting unethically — or at the least selfishly or self-indulgently — in pursuing biological children instead of adopting orphans who could benefit from what (we like to think) would be a good home? David Lat, New Yorkethical surrogacy

Anybody who is contemplating having a baby, by whatever means, could be adopting a child instead. If those who chide you include people who have biological children themselves, you might want to point this out. Come to think of it, your friends who don’t have children are also free, if they meet the legal requirements, to adopt.

Every child awaiting adoption is someone who could benefit from parental volunteers. There is no good reason to pick on you.

The path you have chosen, it’s true, mixes commerce and reproduction through egg donation and surrogacy. But while acquiring an egg and then working with a surrogate mother are transactions with ethical risks, they can each be conducted in morally permissible ways. The main concerns I would have are avoiding exploitation — so you need to make sure that the donor and the surrogate are acting freely and are fairly compensated — and taking care that your understanding with the surrogate mother is clearly laid out in advance. But any responsible agency that assists you in this should cover these bases.

Wanting a biological connection with your child is pretty normal: We evolved to pass on our genes, after all, even if we’re free to give Mother Nature the side-eye. There are also things you can more likely do for children to whom you’re biologically related — notably, on the organ-donor front. So while it would be terrific if you adopted, it’s no more incumbent on you than it is on any other potential parents.

I’ve worked as an educator and administrator in public schools for over a decade. During this time, I have served as a character witness and written letters on behalf of students who have been arrested. In certain cases, these students have been charged with violent offenses. I often found myself in heated arguments with a loved one over these acts of advocacy, specifically because court proceedings typically take place during the day, which requires me to have someone cover my duties at school. I feel that this advocacy is justified because I am an adult who has invested deeply in the development of the children and knows who they are outside of their offenses. Is it ethical for school staff members to offer their time and efforts to support students charged with violent crimes? Name Withheld

You’re presumably talking about helping the courts to understand the social and educational contexts of students accused of crimes. You’re permitted to testify when the courts find this information relevant in deciding what to do with young offenders. In doing so, you’re helping the courts make what are often very difficult decisions. As long as your advocacy is truthful, it can be a valuable contribution. Asking colleagues to cover for you when you’re doing a public service would seem entirely acceptable; they have good reason to support what you’re doing — and because of that, you should be willing to cover for others when they do the same.

Let me address an issue you haven’t raised: The fact that a student on whose behalf you speak could receive a lighter sentence may upset his or her victims or their families. If the court is doing its job properly, however, the sentence is lighter only because its decision would have otherwise been based on a less complete picture. There is, of course, a question of fairness here, because many young offenders don’t have the advantage of a teacher willing to speak up for them. But you wouldn’t contribute to the overall justice of the situation by denying helpful information in one case on the grounds that it’s unavailable in many others. If you want to help with that problem, you might try to persuade your union to develop ethical guidelines for conducting this form of advocacy.

NYTimes.com, By

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‘Men Having Babies’ to Make Case for New York Surrogacy Reform

New York surrogacy reform

New York Surrogacy Reform – Come this Friday to hear how Men Having Babies and other advocates plan to pass surrogacy reform in NY.

Since it’s very first meeting in the form of a 2005 support group for biological gay dads and dads-to-be, Men Having Babies (MHB) has been advocating and educating folks on surrogacy. This has taken place in the form of many elements including conferences for those considering surrogacy, their Gay Parenting Assistance Program which helps fund many gay men undertaking the expensive surrogacy journey to fatherhood, and their extensive directory and review system on surrogacy agencies and clinics.New York surrogacy reform

MHB has recently moved further to make their conferences a meeting place for committed surrogacy and gay parenting supporters, including parents, surrogates, researchers, professionals, and policymakers by creating the Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). The New York surrogacy reform program is part of this effort.  The program provides opportunities for formal and facilitated discussions about topics and developments relevant to parenting through surrogacy and / or by LGBT parents.

Now, in the aftermath of the stalled Child Parent Security Act (the CPSA bill), which was set to reverse the ban on compensated surrogacy in the state of New York, Men Having Babies have gone a step further. As part of the ARF initiative, this Friday November 8 in New York City, Men Having Babies welcomes folks to join them at an open to the public event: The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform. [with the link]

As part of the ARF initiative, this Friday November 8 in New York City, Men Having Babies welcomes folks to join them at an open to the public event: The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform.

“While we think it is the most comprehensive and thoughtful surrogacy legislation ever drafted, the CPSA also faced criticism and claims that not enough discussion has taken place about ethical concerns,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the Executive Director of Men Having Babies. His response, along with others, was to create Friday’s event and “to offer historical and international perspectives on this debate, a review of relevant research findings, and a thorough analysis on how we think the proposed surrogacy legislation addresses core ethical issues and essential best practices,”

For the event this Friday in New York City, Men Having Babies has partnered with RESOLVE: The National Infertility AssociationFamily Equality CouncilStonewall Democrats of NYCThe Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, and Equality NY among others. Together, they’re assembling more than 30 speakers, and their goal is to contribute to an informed public debate on the issue, and bring in “a wide range of perspectives from surrogates, their young adult children, children born through surrogacy, academic researchers, representatives of national community organizations and international human rights organizations, and legal, mental health and medical experts.”

Organizers are inviting lawmakers, community activists, professionals, academicians, students, parents and prospective parents to listen and offer feedback. More than 100 already registered.

The Senate passed the CPSA earlier this year, and it is likely to come up for a vote in the Assembly later this legislative season.

Gayswithkids.com, November 6, 2019

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Ireland to List Both Same-Sex Parents on Child’s Birth Certificate

Ireland gay

There’s a major loophole in Ireland in the Same-sex birth certificate new regulations, however.

Ireland will soon allow both same-sex parents to be listed on their child’s birth certificate for the first time.Ireland gay

On Monday, Health Minister Simon Harris announced that the Emerald Isle will be moving forward with new regulations intended to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ families. Under current policy, only the parent that is biologically related to a child is permitted to have their name printed on the baby’s birth records.

The updated guidelines will make room for same-sex couples who concieve using a sperm donor to both be considered their child’s legal parents.

Under current procedure, a lesbian who uses an anonymous sperm donor to have a baby with her legally wedded wife would have to apply for guardianship to have any rights to the child. Ireland voted in favor of marriage equality in May 2015 in a historic referendum, with 62 percent of voters supporting the freedom to marry.

However, there remain loopholes in the law that will continue to be used to target gay male couples. The proposed updates do not cover same-sex parents who conceieve using IVF, meaning that a gay man will not automatically be deemed his child’s legal guardian if his husband uses an egg donor to have a baby. He would be forced to go through an expensive, taxing legal process to claim that right. 

Equality for Children, a nonprofit which campaigned to raise awareness of the discriminatory policies, blasted the new regulations. In a statement, Founder Ranae Von Meding claimed the updates are “not a win” for same-sex parents.

“The signing of this commencement order has already been delayed seven times over the last five years, and only a fraction of LGBT+ families and their children will be covered by it,” said Von Meding, who has two children with her wife. “My family, along with many others, will continue to be left behind.”

Von Meding told the Irish women’s news site Her that “50 percent of children would be left behind by this legislation.

out.com, November 4, 2019 by Nico Lang

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Adoption Groups Could Turn Away L.G.B.T. Families Under Trump Proposed Adoption Rule

divide chores

The Trump administration seeks to roll back an Obama-era adoption rule that classified sexual orientation and gender identity as classes protected from discrimination.

A proposed rule by the Trump administration would allow foster care and adoption agencies to deny their services to L.G.B.T. families on faith-based grounds.Trump adoption

The proposal would have “enormous” effects and touch the lives of a large number of people, Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families, said on Saturday.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday released the proposed rule, which would roll back a 2016 discriminationregulation instituted by the administration of President Barack Obama that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

Any organization — including foster care and adoption agencies or other entities that get department funding — is “now free to discriminate” if it wants to, Ms. Brogan-Kator said.

The proposed rule could be published in the Federal Register as early as Monday, followed by a 30-day comment period. After that, the comments will close and it will become final rule.

Critics, such as Ms. Brogan-Kator, said the rule would allow organizations to place their personal religious beliefs above the needs of children in their care, but the administration countered that it was not preventing L.G.B.T. people from adopting.

“The administration is rolling back an Obama-era rule that was proposed in the 12 o’clock hour of the last administration that jeopardizes the ability of faith-based providers to continue serving their communities,” the White House said in a statement on Saturday. “The federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith.”

According to the Adoption Network, there are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. More than 114,000 cannot be returned to their families and are waiting to be adopted.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated in a report that 114,000 same-sex couples in 2016 were raising children in the United States. Same-sex couples with children were far more likely than different-sex couples with children to have an adopted child, 21.4 percent versus 3 percent, the report found.

nytimes.com by Derrick Bryson Taylor, November 2, 2019

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Kmart Selling Popular Family Doll Sets With Two Dads, Two Moms

Kmart

But online Kmart shoppers don’t get to choose their doll family’s genders.

Kmart Australia recently introduced a line of doll families featuring same-sex parents.same-sex parents

Sydney and Melbourne locations of the Wesfarmers-owned discount department store chain have already reported selling out of the new doll sets, which come with a mom and dad, two moms, or two dads, the Star-Observer reports.

Manufactured by Anko, Kmart Australia’s international house brand, all doll sets include two kids, a baby stroller, a pet, and a picnic basket with food items.

newnownext.com, November 3, 2019 by Brandon Voss

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‘This baby was meant to be ours’: A gay couple’s journey to become parents

gay dads

‘This baby was meant to be ours’: A gay couple’s journey to become parents

When Kraig Wiedenfeld and Bill Johnson decided they were ready to start a family and wanted a baby biologically related to one of them, they did what a small but growing number of gay couples with their desire do: They found a surrogate to help them.step parent adoption

As chronicled in The Washington Post last year, the two men, then married for four years, embarked on a journey both complicated and expensive that required: sperm from Weidenfeld, an anonymous egg donor and a young woman to carry the baby.

Christina Fenn had already carried three babies — including a set of twins — for two other same-sex couples, when a surrogacy agency matched her to Wiedenfeld and Johnson.

Before becoming a surrogate, Fenn and her husband, Brian, had two sons of their own. She loved being pregnant and longed to help those who couldn’t conceive children.

Assisted reproduction and surrogacy have been around for years, but these days gay men who can afford the cost are choosing this route to parenthood, experts say.

Sometimes, however, desire and hope — and in Wiedenfeld and Johnson’s case, advanced reproductive science — are not enough to guarantee a baby. A first effort resulted in a miscarriage just a month after the embryo transfer. The second effort had the same outcome, and an even heavier emotional toll for all involved.

But the two men and Fenn had contractually agreed on three embryo transfers, leaving them one final chance. On a crisp day last spring, nearly nine months later, that chance came due.

“Are you ready to be a dad?” Fenn’s eager voice said at the other end of the line.

Weidenfeld and Johnson raced from New York City to the hospital in Connecticut just in time for the birth of a seven-pound, 19.5-inch boy, soon to be known as Teddy.

“It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen,” Johnson said.

After passing the baby around among Fenn, her husband and the two new dads, Weidenfeld turned to Fenn and said, “Look what you’ve done for us. This is not the end of our story together. This is just the beginning.”

“I will be there for every birthday party and special occasion,” Fenn vowed, smiling. “I hope to always be in their lives,” she said of the family.

The number of children born through surrogacy is unknown, but surrogacy agencies say the demand for surrogates has noticeably risen in recent years. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 738 babies were born via surrogacy in 2004; in 2014, that the number was 2,807.

Victoria Ferrara, founder and legal director at Worldwide Surrogacy, says about 50 percent of the 80 to 100 surrogacy arrangements her organization facilitates involve gay parents. She estimates the number of babies born through surrogacy every year ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 worldwide.

Washingtonpost.com, by Sydney Page, October 26, 2019

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