65 Comments on “Personal Story – St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Chicago”

  1. I worked at St Vincent’s from 64 to 71. We loved the babies, children and frightened expectant mothers. Thank you for your video!


    Kathleen Finnegan.

    1. Kathleen Finnegan
      I was at St. Vincent’s from 8-71 until the10-71. I believe we young expectent girls were on the 4th floor, if memory serves. Maybe the 3rd.
      I remember the kind nurses, one was Kathy, you? and Marge G. was another.
      The sister in charge her name escapes me.
      I still remember some of the girls who delivered around the same time, at St. Josephs.
      Just to say I never knew there were still babies at St. V’s then, just the nursing program.
      Probably you won’t see this or reply but the kindness,and understanding of the staff there made those waiting days bearable. Thank you.

  2. I was a baby at St. Vincent’s in 1970. I was born in March but wasn’t adopted until the end of August. If anyone remembers baby girl Mary Anne, please reach out.
    Kelly Justic (kellyjustic@gmail.com)

  3. I was a baby at St. Vincent’s in 1971. I arrived in January and stayed until May. I would love to speak to anyone who may remember a baby named Barbara.

  4. I was a baby there, born in October 1966. Baby Lucretia. I was adopted by my wonderful parents, Edward and Genevieve. They adopted all 6 of my bothers and sisters from St Vincent. Does anyone remember me?

  5. My mom was sent to this orphanage in 1955, all she knows is her birth mothers last name is Komen, she so badly would like to connect with anyone in this family and know something about where she came from, please help if anyone knows anything.

  6. I was born at St. Vincent Orphanage in 1945. My birth mother’s name was Valarie Jozwiak. I would love to find out something about her and her circumstances. I know it’s been a long, long time, but it is very important to me to have some background about her and her family. If you can help me, I would be deeply appreciative. Thank you in advance for any answers.

  7. My Mother was born in 1927 and was given up as an infant trying to find out iany kind of info. Her birth name is Josephine Lopez born Feb. 14 1927. Parents Jose or john Lopez and mother Refugio Vasquez or Valesquez.

  8. My birth mother was born July 2, 1920. Her birth name was Evangeline E. Kovarik. (This information was obtained from my actual birth certificate which I was able to receive after Illinois allowed adoption records to be opened and made available to adoptees.) According to Ancestry records she died December 13, 1989.

    I was born 9/28/44 at Little Co. of Mary Hospital and then immediately given up as an infant to St. Vincent’s for adoption. I would like to find out something about her and her circumstances. I know it’s been a long, long time but it is very important to me to have any information about her and her family. If you can give me any information I would be deeply appreciative. Thank you for any information you may have.

  9. My sister’s male child was brought to St. Vincent’s in late October 1965. My sister was 16 years old when she gave birth. Through the years she expressed a desire of wanting to connect with her birth son. Unfortunately, my sister passed away before she was able to do so. If you have any information that you can pass along to me I appreciate it very much.

  10. This notice for Barbara. I worked at St. Vincent’s in 1971 during those months. In fact I was the p.m. charge of the two to five month old floor. I could not say I remember you. But I can say that many people cared for you and rocked you and sang songs to you. Still, with all those different people taking care of you it must have been quite an experience for a little baby. I’m so glad to know you were adopted. I pray your life has been good. And there’s more to come!

  11. I was a baby at St. Vincent’s in 1964. I was born in June but my birth mom released me to St. Vincents when I was around 6 months old. I was told my birth mom was very young (possibly between 16 and 18) and her last name was Ferneau. I’m not quite sure of the spelling. I was given the birth name Steven Ferneau and was adopted at the age of 8 months. I would appreciate any information you may have in regards to my birth parents.
    Thank you so much for your help!!

  12. My name is Marianne Dudzik now but my birth name was birth name was Victoria Marie Meyers. I was born 08-10-1962. I was told my mom’s name was Helen Meyers.

    Looking for her

    thank you

  13. My birth name was Rosemary Derucki. I was born on 08-29-1952. My mother’s name is Josephine Derucki. I believe her married name to be Janik. If there are any relatives out there who can give me any info, I would really appreciate it.

    1. Larry and other adoptees.
      There is a service called the Midwest Center and confidential intermediary service based out of Des Plaines IL. They will petition the court to obtain your records and reach out to your birth parents and all living relatives per your request. I finally got the answers I was looking for after being adopted in 1963.

      Good luck,
      Cathy K.

  14. Kathleen, I was at the orphanage in June 1964 my birth mothers name was Josephine Marr , she was 16 I was told she didn’t want to give e me up . Her Dad worked for government, thought it would ruin his Career. I was delivered at Presbyterian st Luke’s Hospital. Then brought to st. Vincents . Anthony Marr June 17 1964 .

  15. Do you remember her by chance I know it’s been a long time God bless you and everyone for their help there.

  16. My grandmother, Rosemary Crain (then Bertucci) was a nurse at the orphanage for a couple of years in the early 60’s. It became too emotionally devastating for her to continue after a baby boy she had bonded with was adopted and she didn’t get to say goodbye. His name in the orphanage was Charlie Woodward, and he was adopted and then potentially named Dennis… she swears she saw him again some years later in a restaurant, D’Masti’s, but that when his mother noticed her looking at the boy she became nervous and left before my Grandma could say anything. She is not certain it was him. If anybody has information on Charlie Woodward, it would make my grandmother’s life to know what happened to him.

  17. I was a baby at St. Vincent in 1958 and ’59. They say my birthday is November 23rd 1958. my birth name is Ann Marie Tybor. I am now Janet Marie Swanson- Kanning. I was told I was adopted at 8 months to Mary Helene and Matthew Swanson. If anyone knows anything about my birth mother please contact me.

  18. I was born Linda Gomez on June 26th, 1957 by midwife.
    My parents adopted me about a year or so later from St. Vincent’s. All I know is that my birth mother was still in school. ANY information would be greatly appreciated!
    Linda N.

  19. I am looking for my birth mom- dad. My name is Nina..I know The last name is Elizondo. I was born Jan. 15 1964 I left St.Vincents at 18mos. Old And was a foster child till I was adopted at 10 yrs. Old. My last name is Paveza. Any info Would be Greatly Appreciated. Im so Greatful.

  20. I was born at St. Joseph hospital in early June of 1970. I believe my birth mother was well cared for. Her name was Barbara. She turned 18 four days before I was born. She was from Gary, Indiana. My name at birth was Stewart. Grateful for my healthy birth and blessed for my adoption.

  21. I was born January 3, 1964.. My name when placed at St Vincent’s would have been Virginia Grace. I was adopted and placed with wonderful parents. I have met my birth mom, who has become my best friend. I would love to know if there is anyone out there who worked there at the time who could contact me. I would love to know what it was like then. I have history type questions about how it all was. But I suppose, mostly I would love to contact someone who may have looked into my little baby eyes back then.

  22. I went to St Vincents for their 1 year training summer of 1964 to summer of 1965. To all those who were babies and toddlers there during that time I’d like to tell you how much you were loved by myself and the other students . You were changed with love, fed with love, rocked with love. We cried when you were adopted because we loved you and we cried because we were so happy for you.

  23. I was at St Vincent’s some time between the spring of 1965 to August of 1965. I was known as Kenneth Robert Falcon then. To any who may have cared for me, thank you!

  24. My late grandmother was adopted from St Vincent’s in Nov of 1916. We have since thankfully located her biological family thanks to the wonders of autosomal DNA testing. We are also thankful that St Vincent’s took care of our grandmother until she was able to be adopted into a loving family.

  25. I was 4 my sister 4 and my 3 brothers who were 2 1/2 and infant, I have some memories of how scary this place was, they wouldn’t let my siblings and I see each other. My mom was having hard times financially and did try to have us adopted out however my father stopped it and my mother who had another child who it took over 50 years to find was adopted out and mom was able to get us back. I remember dance classes, the little kids pool and the recitals. I have struggled through the years with some things that happened there but am reçonciled since finding my sister

  26. I was training at St. Vincents’ One year training. program in. 1961-‘62 then continued working there into 1963. I was the only Jewish girl ever trained there and let me tell you, we loved those babies , we took good care of them and were sooo very happy and sad when they were adopted.

    1. Nurit my mom was at st.vincents the same time as you. She was a baby. Name angela savino. Born nov 1961. Any chance you remember her?

  27. Joseph Wood
    After Illinois changed their laws granting original birth certificates a several years ago, I learned I was a ‘foundling!’ I requested my original certificate with hopes of identifying who my birth parents were but instead received a Foundling Certificate?! I was abandoned in the streets and found! I would later be brought to St. Vincent’s by Chicago Police.

    The birthday I celebrated my whole life is really the day I was found.
    I did find Mr. Ceaser Johnson, a Korean Veteran, who found me one wintry day in Chicago. We had a great relation before he passed a few years ago. His family took me in and continues to send love and well wishes to me and my family.
    We have had our homecoming (returnIng to St. Vincent’s) several times. It is such an emotional yet powerful and rewarding time to spend with those who I call my brothers and sisters! Great team and staff who are still loving on us as they did through the decades!

    His continued blessings and Hand be on all of you!
    Judge Joseph Wood
    (My book: Saving Joey is a children’s book of my story found in Amazon or Kharis Publishing)

  28. I was in training at St. Vincent’s from June of 1967 to June 1968. Contrary to negative things said about other orphanages, we took such good care of our kids. Woe be to us if the nuns would have found us not taking proper care of the children!!

    They called us “Mommy” and we always had plenty of favorites to take out for walks to a park on Michigan Avenue.

    Picking up newborns at St. Joe’s was fun. The biggest privilege was being godmothers at the babies’ baptisms. What a wonderful, nuturing place to start life. I still wonder where my favorites ended up.

  29. This message is for Laurel (Ryan) Makula. I am wondering about your comment regarding: “it was a privilege to being a godmother at the babies baptisms.”
    This has always bothered me regarding my baptism at St Vincent orphanage. When the priest baptized the baby, did he say their name or just say “this baby?”
    And when you and the other nurses were taking care of the babies, did you know their names or how did you refer to each baby?
    Thank you

  30. Three children left at St. Vincent’s Orphanage for mysterious reasons sometime between 1902 – 1905. They were Rosalie (adopted at 7 years old by Kusz family and raised in Toledo, OH and Havanna, Cuba), John (sent to St. Mary’s Training School in DesPlaines, IL around 1905) and Catherine (adopted as a baby by Dymek family in Chicago, IL. I would be so grateful to anyone still alive who knows anything about this. The birth parent names given were Frank Harrett and Mary Burns – Chicago, IL as recorded by a witness to their late birth certificates, an Aunt named Mrs. Carol Oates (or Oatis). I can’t find her to get the story.

  31. Laurel Makula, maybe I was one of your favorites. Birth name Annette. I was born Jan 7 1968 and adopted out in June 1968. Drk hair drk eyes was sick At birth hard to hold formula down. Tks for taking cAre of us!!!

  32. I was a student in the child care program at St. Vincent’s in ‘67 – 68. I remember loving all the babies. It was a privilege to be able to care for them. We boarded at the home and I remember my room was under the toddler slide. I have many fond memories of my time there. I ended up adopting my son from Catholic Charities in Manchester, NH in 1976. Little did I know at the time I worked there that I would be the proud mother of my son. It was the best day of my life.

  33. I was in the Infant Nursing Program at St. Vincent’s from September of 1966 through the fall of 1967. It was a wonderful experience and I was sorry to hear about the person who has terrible memories of being an infant there! We all loved the children and spent the very little bit of free time we had taking a child for an outing. I went on to work at the New Born Nursery of La Grange Hospital, La Grange, IL and loved my job there as well!

    Tp Margaret who asked what we called each child while we cared for them, each one was called by their real name if their parent had given them up. Foundlings were given a real name to be called but often adoptive parents changed the name the nuns had chosen. I held a favorite baby while he was being baptized and he was named Allen while at St. Vincent’s, his adoptive parents chose a new name for him when he went to them. We never treated children as objects, we loved them, doted on them and gave them loads of love and affection.

  34. I was born at Mercy Hospital, but transported to St. Vincent’s on the day of my birth, August 16, 1948, under the name Francis Michael Lewis. Through research decades later, I learned that about 250 children were at St. Vincent’s on any given day in that period. The number startled me when I learned it, and it still does. How could so many infants be cared for, adequately, at once? I was adopted six weeks later, and raised in suburban Chicago.

    I “replaced” another infant from St. Vincent’s my family called “Bob.” My parents had to return him to St. Vincent’s some weeks after my birth, but before my adoption. His birthfather, married to someone other than the birthmother, initiated this. I was told that this story made Chicago papers. Years later, I searched and found short articles on the case in both the Tribune and Daily News. One identifies Henry Heitz, age 26, as petitioning Cook County Superior Court to claim his “illegitimate” son after he heard the birthmother intended to permit his adoption. (I also obtained a copy of that petition.) Another story reported that the birthmother, Eileen Anderson, age 21, was willing to permit the birthfather and his wife to adopt the child. The Sisters of Charity told my parents this had never happened before and that they worried about “Bob’s” future.

    I had loving parents and a happy childhood–and life! Yet: persistent curiosity and fundamental questions of identity only ebbed and flowed. They never vanished. I eventually found my birthmother in 1995. We developed a close relationship–sometimes fraught–until she passed away in 2006. I learned that my birthfather had died the year before I sought and found my birthmother.

    I’m sharing these basic facts decades after all the events, but would welcome hearing from anyone who knows about St. Vincent’s in the late 1940s–or the story of “Bob” who likely later assumed the surname Heitz. I sincerely hope he and his birthparents recovered well from this startling beginning.

  35. Jan Kanning, I was in St Vincent’s from Sept 58 probably till about March of 59. My Birth mother had placed me there to avoid the scandal of unwed motherhood. I have pics of me at around 6 months old in an obviously institutional crib there. My mother then retrieved me and I lived as her brother and my my grandmother’s son for about 5 years till the truth was told to me. My Birth father had died in 1962. In 2021 after doing the 23 and me DNA , I located my half sister, two other sisters, and a brother. Give it a try.

  36. I was at St. Vincent’s from the summer of 1965 until the next summer of 1966.
    We were called Child Care Technician; young girls right out of high school.
    We all loved the babies. They did call us “Mommy.” Most of us had a favorite baby which we tried to give extra attention.
    We loved, hugged and kissed all the babies no matter what race they were; it was a beautiful experience.
    We worked 8 hour shifts and much of our time was spent feeding them breakfast, lunch and dinner; it could be rather chaotic trying to feed 10 or more toddlers.
    I loved the newborns and was asked to work on that floor after I graduated, but I did not take the job, which I regret.

  37. I was born Sept 1962 and lived at St. Vincents until Oct. 16 1962. My birth mother named me KENNA CHRISTINE. Any info would be appreciated! I went to the reunion a few years ago, what a wonderful experience. How lucky we were to be cared for and loved by all the young nurses and nuns. Grateful grateful to St. Vincents!

  38. I was born and placed for adoption in August of 1966. Lisa with Catholic Charities helped me find my birth parents about 16 years ago.
    To anyone who may have cared for me as an infant, I thank you.
    My birth name was Anne or Anna Akin.

  39. I was born [in February, 1954] in St Vincent’s. Birth moms name was Dale Ann Lessard. She was approximately 15/16 yrs. of age. I think I was there for awhile. I didn’t get to my forever foster/adoptive family till November 57. Does anyone remember anything about me would be great.

    1. Julia do you remember Donna ? I was born August 29 th 1966 and Donna named me Veronica . I was put up for adoption through catholic charities end of September. Donna would have been with you .

  40. I was born May 15,1958 , so the story has been told, at the last minute my grandmother allowed my birth mother to bring me home. I didn’t find out until years later that this occurred. I’ve recently started research on Ancestry and getting close to finding my birth father. I’ve never been able to locate my birth certificate, any suggestions for me would be appreciated, already tried the normal attempts. I can’t imagine going away to live with strangers until you give birth, going through labor and delivery, all alone . I pray these young women also had love and support.
    To all that has the little hole in your hearts , not knowing a piece of your puzzle , I pray for your peace.

  41. It was June, July & Aug 1969, I stayed at St Vincent’s, along with many other young, unwed, pregnant girls. I worked in the office to offset the cost of my stay there. I don’t recall fine details, just stray things, like lining up outside our rooms in the mornings, prayers, the stairs, for some reason I can recall a grand staircase where we’d sit & meet with visitors in the Great room.
    My son that I left for adoption is 52 now, & he, his wife & their son & myself just had dinner together at UNIVERSAL Studios City Walk, he had been searching for me, finally I was contacted by Social Security & now this was our 2nd time meeting, for less than 2 hours, but a good 2 hours.

  42. I gave birth to two sons in August 1963 and March 1965. Both my sons were adopted from St. Vincent to wonderful parents. In March 2020 I was reunited with my son born in 1965 through a DNA test and in January 2021 I was reunited with my son born in 1963 through help from Lisa at Catholic Charities. We were all looking for each other for many years. I’d like to thank the many people who cared for my babies during their stay at St. Vincent’s. I’m sure you gave them the love and care I never had the chance to give them. God bless you and thank you.

  43. I was there, as a 15 year old unwed mother, from April until August 1967. Although it was heartbreaking circumstances, I don’t know that I ever felt so loved. The nuns there were just so kind and loving. I worked in the Nun’s Quarters, setting the tables for meals. It was a wonderful experience, except for giving up my daughter. She was adopted by a nice family and we met when she was in her 20s. Unfortunately she wasn’t overly fond of me, and told me to get out of her life. But by God’s grace I did later marry and have 3 children I got to raise – and we all love each other! I also have four grandchildren. I just wanted to say what a positive experience it was to be there. (It is no coincidence that I am now a Vincentian.)

  44. I had no idea until now, that I would be able to read about other babies/children, who were there and of the kind people who looked after us. I was born in the Illinois State Training School for Girls in July 1963. After 3 days in their infirmary I was taken to St. Vincent’s Orphanage. I spent my first 8 months there. My name was, Yvonne Marie Dineen. I have never been able to get my real birth certificate, only one from my step father who changed my last name to his, Roberts. I’ve just written to Lisa for any kind of records she may find. I don’t know who my bio father is. My Mother wasn’t around much during my growing up years and even into adulthood she was awful to me. She took the secret of who my bio dad was, to the grave.
    I want to thank anyone who treated me with love, at the Orphanage. If anyone could possibly remember me, I’d love to hear from you!

  45. What a wonderful video and information! It sure brought back memories, as I was a student there 1966-1968 and often think back to the children I cared for while there. The nuns were very strict and we were taught to do every procedure perfectly but with love and care. After graduating I worked in a suburban newborn nursery and taught 3-yr. old toddlers for Operation Head Start. I went back to school for several years taking more medical classes. The experience I gained at St. Vincent’s was so valuable.

  46. I just want to thank St. Vincent’s on behalf of my mother Maryann, who was born likely July 1941 to an unwed mother in the adjoining hospital. Mom was adopted by my wonderful grandparents and raised near Midway airport. It is thru Ancestry DNA and 23&me that I’ve located several of moms half sisters and brothers , nieces and nephews. Her mother had been in her teens and single. Anyhow, after mom passed we found a certificate of birth from St Vincent’s and the ancestry and DNA filled in all the puzzle pieces. Mostly it’s wonderful to know my own ethnicity and meet all the aunts, uncles and cousins. Wish mom was still here to see this. Also know this comes as a total surprise to some family. Thank you. Still working for any full birth certificate.

  47. I was happy to see the pic of St. Vincent’s Orphanage in Chicago. I was born at St. Vincent’s in June 1952. My little sister was born there in May 1956. I have only vague shadowy images from when we went to pick her up from St. Vincent’s. It seems like another place in another time—I’ve often asked myself if these memories were real.

  48. How wonderful to have found this website!
    I was a student at SVH from the fall of 1963 – October 1964.
    I have thought about St Vincent’s over the years and have many many memories of newborns, “ foundlings”. ( named after the street/neighborhood in which they were found) and toddlers.
    I so wish I could remember more than just a couple of names of the children …..Johnny Magner comes to mind; adorable sweet baby boy that I kissed goodbye ( with tears) when it was time to leave in ‘64…
    I would love to connect with with my former student nurse buddies from that time…have had a hard time finding them!
    I went on to earn my RN and had a great, rewarding career that was highly influenced by the excellent standards set in my heart and mind by those wonderful Sisters of Charity.
    Thank you to everyone who posted your stories and to those still searching I wish you God’s Blessings and Guidance!

  49. I was born 3-28-1953 and I know my birth name was Marcella Bella de la Fuente or so I was told. I am sure of Marcella because it’s on my feeding schedule book. Any one remember me?

  50. Hello, I was called baby Sharon Parks . I was born august 1967 and abandoned on the church steps in Oak park ,IL . I go by Latonja now. Thank you to everyone that took great care of me until 1968

  51. I was an infant at St. Vincent’s from April to May of 1971. I’m interested to hear from anyone who worked there at the time. I was probably called David back then.

  52. I was taken to St Vincent’s orphanage about July or August 1959. I was brought in by Chicago Police. I was 2 1/2 months old. At 1 year I was placed in Foster care. I remained in Foster care until 4 years of age. Was adopted by neighbors to the foster parents. Foster parent became ill. Adopted in 1965 by a family of 5 (neighbors) children and had another 3 after being adopted. Searched for 22 years. Finally got a copy of my original birth certificate 3/31/2012. First found Father’s side. 7 total with me being the oldest. Mother’s side surfaced 1 year and 3 months later. Total 6. I am second to the oldest. Still processing it because I was 52 when I found them. Name Carmen Morales. Went by the orphanage today. So emotional. If anyone remembers please reply if you were there during that time.

  53. I was amazed and so happy to find this site about St Vincents. I was a student, 61-62, I believe graduating in 1963. I have fond memories of St. Vincent’s, caring for the babies, working in the formala room, the nursey, 5 South & North, Sr. Damasia, Mattie, Marriane, my room mates, Velma & Pat from Michigan, My sister friends, Bobbi, Ari, Beverly & Joyce from Louisiana. I believe we were the first black students to attend.
    I remember a baby boy, I took care of named Gideon, so sweet. I remember rocking and feeding the babies as we cared for them on a daily basis. Loving them
    I also remember Anette, head nurse on 5 South, Judith, etc.

    I believe this would be documentary about St. Vincents that would well received as a beautiful truth story for all those involved. Its heart warming and may help some find their family and the nurses find the friends they made while being there.

    That being said, how about a St. Vincent’s Reunion.?

  54. Hi Barbara!

    Thank you for your beautiful post about your memories at St. Vincent’s! I know it means a lot to the “alumni babies” to hear how much they were loved and cared for every day while there.

    We do indeed have annual reunions where the child care technicians and those who stayed there as babies come back to St. Vincent’s. It is an “open house” type of day where alumni can attend Mass, take a tour, connect with others, and share stories.

    I will be sure to add your name and email to our mailing list, so that you will receive an invitation once we set the date. If you are in touch with any other former Child Care Technicians, or adoptees, please have them contact me directly at lfrancis@catholiccharities.net and I will add them to our list as well. The reunions are held in September.

    Thank you again for your post!

    Kind regards,

    Lisa Francis, LCSW
    Post Adoption Services
    Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
    1800 N. Hermitage
    Chicago, IL 60622
    phone: (312) 655-7093

  55. I was at St. Vincent’s from Christmas 1968 until late Feb 1969 when my son was born. I remember a movie of the birth of triplets, the ride to the hospital in a cab with another unwed mom Audrey. She and I would walk down Clark St and explore pawn shops on our days out. I remember the beds we slept in, and washing dishes in the kitchen and the kind nuns. The resident physicians who cared for us, Dr. Luna and Dr. Hook. I remember so much. I could only pray my son ended up in a good home. When he was abt 13 we were moving to PA and I went back to Cath Char to tell them IF he ever wanted to find me, it was okay. The social worker was shocked that I knew absolutely nothing about the adopting family and gave me a paper telling me about them, no identifying info of course. He was in a good family. I was so grateful.
    In the early 1990’s I realized that there were 2 genetic conditions in my son’s family history. Cath Charities said I could write w no identifying info. So I was finally able to send the letter I’d written and rewritten a thousand times over the years! Later they contacted me and we exchanged letters and pics and when we finally talked on the phone it was as tho a huge hole in me I hadn’t known was there suddenly was gone!
    I introduced Dave (I’d named him Erik) to his brother and sister and met my first grandchild. That was 30+ yrs ago and he is still very much a part of our lives and I’m so grateful.
    BUT … I wasn’t able to sign the adoption papers until he was 6 wks old because of my health issues and I have wondered all these years what those weeks were like for him. This website offers me such great comfort! Dave/Erik has 2 wonderful sons and it’s such a blessing to have them in my life. Thank you to the staff and everyone at Catholic Charities!

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