A Friend Becomes A Gestational Carrier For A Family Desiring Another Child

gestational carrierJulia and Lee Newton faced one of their darkest moments when they realised they couldn’t have children without life-threatening complications.

Julia had her first child, a daughter named Emily, in 2007, but the pregnancy led to the development of an Rh incompatibility, which caused her body to create antibodies that would attack the blood of children she later conceived. She became pregnant in 2008 but lost the child at five months. She experienced the same in 2010 when she lost her second child, also at five months.

“It’s hard to say which was more painful but that [second loss] had an even bigger impact, just as far as despair,” Lee said. “You try to have a little hope but if you keep getting defeated, it feels like it’s running out.”

After medical tests and consultations, their doctor gave them sad news: they could continue to conceive, but future pregnancies would become not only life-threatening for the child, but more and more emotionally difficult to bear.

During those times, they moved back to their hometown. Soon after, Julia met Jessica Satterfield. The women became friends, often seeing their daughters together in preschool. And Jessica was there when Julia lost her second child, listening when her friend spoke about the difficulty of not being able to have more children.

“It just broke my heart,” Jessica said.

Then one day, when they were at a school event, Jessica looked across the room and saw Julia holding a baby for another mother. All she could think was that she was able to have children and all Julia wanted was to have another child. It was at that moment that Jessica got the thought in her mind that settled in her heart and wouldn’t go away. She thought about carrying a child full-term for the Newtons.

“When I saw Julia hold that baby, I just thought ‘that is all she wants in the world and can’t have it and that’s just not fair’,” Jessica said. “I didn’t want a baby but I knew how much she [did], and I thought maybe I could carry for them.”

She went home and started researching the possibility. She mentioned the idea to Julia and talked with her husband, Dr Robert Satterfield, who was supportive from the start.

“Just from a personal standpoint, it’s one of the most selfless acts you can do is to offer that,” said Robert, an orthopaedic surgeon. “I call it an adventure because it was not one thing, it was a whole long process. Even from a medical standpoint, it was a very interesting adventure.”

In early January 2013, Jessica talked with Julia in more detail and the decision was made.

The next several months were filled with medical tests, psychiatric evaluations and legal work to prepare for the road ahead. Lee and Julia were stunned and overwhelmed by the idea that came at a time when they were trying to decide how to have another child.

“How many women, especially in a small town – I don’t care where you are – how does that just happen?” Julia said. “It just doesn’t happen. We were just floored with overwhelming joy. It was like days we pondered on it and we just couldn’t believe it was happening.”

From Jessica’s standpoint, she just wanted to give the Newtons what they’d always wanted, without getting anything in return.

“My gift was seeing their joy after seeing all their heartache,” Jessica said. “It’s just been so wonderful to be a part of something positive when there’s so much negativity in the world.”

Instead of being called a surrogate mother, where the surrogate provides the egg, Jessica was a gestational carrier for the Newtons. A gestational carrier carries the embryo of the parents through in vitro fertilisation. The procedure took place on October 27, and without a hitch, the two embryos that were transferred to Jessica resulted in a successful pregnancy. In fact, she was carrying twins.

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How Important Are The Husbands Of Surrogate Mothers?

surrogates husbandsAny guy who supports his wife through a pregnancy can expect a major reward: a baby. His baby. But what happens when that child actually belongs to someone else? One man share’s his family’s journey to help another couple have a baby and his wife’s brave choice to become a surrogate mother.

How could a man be okay with the idea of his wife carrying another man’s child? What sane, adoring husband would hold her hand through a pregnancy and delivery, all to make someone else a father? The questions dogged me as I picked up the phone to call Jeremy Wallace, a 35-year-old former Air Force staff sergeant who helped his wife fulfill her dream of becoming a surrogate mother. It was easier than I expected to find Jeremy and other husbands in his position: The number of men who’ve helped their wives give birth to children for other families, while certainly small, is growing. In 2008, there were 1,395 children born by gestational surrogacy (in which the woman carries the child, but is not the egg donor) in the United States. That’s nearly double the number from 2004, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. And many surrogates are married.

 What Are Surrogate’s Husbands Like?

The husbands of these women tend to be middle-class, Midwestern fathers in their 30s, experts say. They are “confident and supportive,” says Elaine Gordon, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who has worked with surrogates for over 20 years and wrote a book for children born through surrogacy, Mommy, Did I Grow in Your Tummy? John Weltman of Circle Surrogacy, an agency in Boston, goes one step further, describing these husbands as “some of the most remarkable men you will ever meet.”

Certainly, they are crucial to helping thousands of couples have children. No reputable agency will let a married woman become a surrogate unless her husband–who has to undergo psychological and financial screening–gives his written consent. His involvement is too important to the process for him to be anything less than fully on board, says Weltman: “I’ve heard extraordinary stories of men who have literally saved the day. He has to be in it.” There can be medical emergencies and months of bed rest, in addition to givens like the twice-daily hormone shots these guys have to inject into their wives before they even get pregnant.

How This Couple Met

My knee-jerk suspicions melted away the more I talked to Jeremy, who comes across as not only sane, but sincere and well-adjusted. With broad shoulders and a charming Southern drawl, he still has the steady demeanor of a soldier (he served in the Air Force for 10 years). Jeremy left military life in 2006, and since then, he’s worked at a variety of jobs, ultimately starting an appliance-repair business in San Antonio, where he lives with his wife, Dawn. They met when Dawn moved to Texas 16 years ago, and have been together ever since. It was a whirlwind romance, he tells me: They met in August, were engaged by Christmas, pregnant (surprise!) by January, and married in June. Today they have two daughters–Alexis, 14, and Rae-Lynn, 10–plus a niece (Amanda, 15) whom they adopted from Dawn’s brother. Clearly, the Wallaces believe in family.

Read more of this article here…

Photo credit: Jill Hunter

 

 

 


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Infertility And Surrogacy – A Surrogate’s Tale

surrogate and infertility

“I walked away forever changed because I got to play a small part in changing someone else’s life for the better.”

My surrogate journey was simple. It was a calling. Something I felt in my very core I wanted to do. People think I’m crazy and that’s OK. I actually had a dream I delivered twins when I was going through an infertile time myself. When I awakened from the dream, I knew this was something I wanted to do. That day I began my journey.

The lady I worked with found me the perfect fit. I don’t put a lot of thought into things. I’m a go with the flow kind of person which I think makes for a good surrogate honestly. I began fantasizing about this woman who had yearned for a baby for a LONG time. I wanted to help her. That’s exactly what I got. This was a couple who for various reasons would be denied the ability to adopt. One reason was because of their age. Who are we to judge how old a parent should be? I was the incubator and helped bring their baby boy and baby girl into this world over 3 years ago. They are gorgeous, happy, and healthy. Their parents’ lives are complete. I walked away forever changed because I got to play a small part in changing someone else’s life for the better.

No, I didn’t do it for the money. I did it because I could relate to the struggle of infertility. I too had been there. You can’t imagine how difficult it is for those that can’t have a baby no matter how hard they try or were robbed of that pleasure due to an early hysterectomy or something unforeseen that rendered them unable to bear or carry their own child.

My blessing from my journey came 7 months later when I conceived my baby girl on my own after 13 years of infertility. Life is full circle. You get back what you put in!

 

Author unknown

 

 

 

 

 


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A Surrogate Mother Shares Her Perspective On Surrogacy

What is gestational surrogacy? Detailed information about Surrogate & Surrogate Pregnancy

surrogacyWritten by Ryley of That’s My Family Blog:

Today I am 7 weeks pregnant. Ultrasound pictures are held up with letter magnets on my fridge. My calendar is splattered with OB appointment reminders every week.

But this baby isn’t mine. This baby belongs to an AMAZING couple that I couldn’t love more.

I am a Gestational Carrier, a Surrogate Mom.

Who Are Surrogate Mothers?

There is a good chance that all you know of surrogates either came from the movie “Baby Mama” or from the recent “surrogate” scandal. What I want you to know most about surrogates is that we are real people: we’re moms, we work normal jobs, lead normal lives. There are a lot of different stories that pull women to surrogacy. For me, it was a best friend in high school who came out to me after we graduated. He was happy, but realized his orientation meant he would never have biological children. Without even thinking, my 17 year old self proclaimed “I’ll have babies for you!”

11 years later, I made the leap and joined a surrogacy agency that embodied all I wanted and needed to make this a positive experience for all involved. The agency matched me with a fantastic couple that will become parents in the Spring of 2012.

What Is Being A Surrogate Mother Like?

It sounds easy when I say it that way, sounds like a piece of cake. There is so much more that goes into it. There is the typical question everyone asks, “How can you just give your baby up?” First, this baby is in NO WAY my child. It will look drastically different than me and my family. It will not have my blood type, it was not made with any of my genetics. The process has been compared to long term babysitting. If your best friend asked you to watch their child for 9 months, you’d do it. You’d love that child for 9 months, tuck them into bed at night and kiss them on the head. You’d feed them and take care of them. When your friend came back you’d be SO happy to reunite them. Would you miss that child after you cared for them? YES, you would, but your heart would be so happy. I CANNOT wait to reunite this baby with its parents. I dream of it at night. I get teary eyed thinking about it. It’ll be the moment I’ve been waiting for…

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Photo courtesy of: Clare Bloomfield at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 


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A Surrogacy Story From Mary

surrogateThe name Mary F. Magness sounds like the name of a saint but she isn’t—not in the typical fashion. She does have saint-like qualities in that she offers the gift of parenthood to couples who are unable to conceive. Mary is a 31-year-old surrogate mother who lives in Santa Clarita, Calif., just north of Los Angeles.

 

Mary was 23 when she gave birth to her first child. After traveling and exploring, she was able to live out her dream of having her own family. She admits, “Although I was a bit younger than I planned on having them, I don’t regret it in the slightest.” By the time she considered becoming a surrogate mom, Mary had two daughters of her own.

“I was married with two young kids, just trying to keep everything together and balanced. I wasn’t really sure what the next step in my life would be once the girls were old enough for me to gain some of my own time back,” Mary shared.

Mary says she was fortunate enough to become friends with a woman who had been a surrogate twice. This friend remarked that she thought Mary would be perfect for the job, which caused the wheels inside Mary’s mind to turn: “I loved the idea of helping others and being able to do it from home. To be able to use a ‘talent’ I possessed was a cool thought.”

Upon learning about the procedures that take place during a surrogacy, Mary admits she worried about the hormone injections, and there was also self doubt about not being able to conceive and disappointing the intended parents in some way.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common method of conception for modern surrogate mothers. In the past, the surrogate mother used her own egg in combination with a donor’s sperm to conceive the child. In recent times the fertilized egg is placed inside the surrogate mother’s womb during a simple procedure that causes less pain than a pap smear. The surrogate mother is placed on bed rest for at least three days to allow the conception to take place. With this process, the child is in no way related biologically to the surrogate mother. Her womb is simply used as an incubator and first home for the baby.

Mary refers to herself as the baby’s first babysitter as well as “the womb for rent.” She adds, “I think people don’t quite understand being able to be pregnant and not feeling too attached to the baby. This was never an issue for me. I just explain to them that it was never mine in the first place, and I know that. When you go through the whole IVF process it really confirms that it’s completely different than having your own. I don’t think people get that.”

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Surrogacy – A Single Man Chooses Fatherhood Via Surrogacy

Louis DeFilippi and his daughter Anna enjoy Lincoln Center in New York. He decided to have a child with the help of surrogacy when he was in his late 50s.surrogacy

Louis DeFilippi does not care much about labels like “single dad.” If DeFilippi is a symbol of anything, it is simply that of independent thinking.

Growing up, he was the “white sheep” on his block in Queens, N.Y., the one who went on to earn a doctorate in biochemistry as some kids “were headed toward a career in crime,” he says.

When a real estate agent told him in 1979 that unmarried men didn’t buy houses, his rejoinder: “Meet the new single man.”

“I’ve always taken my own path,” says DeFilippi, 64. “I don’t follow the crowd. I don’t care what the crowd’s doing.”

Becoming a Father Later In Life

His maverick spirit flashed again when he became a first-time father seven years ago, The Chicago Tribune first reported.

DeFilippi pursued fatherhood on his own after the devastation of receiving a “Dear John” letter in 2003 from his second wife. She was leaving him and his long desire to become a dad remained unfulfilled.

“I decided to keep my life moving forward,” said DeFilippi, who was raised in a close-knit family with too many cousins to count. “I didn’t want my life to end at that point.”

DeFilippi, a consultant living in Palatine, Ill., sought help from a reproductive endocrinologist who DeFilippi said had never before worked with a single man. With DeFilippi’s sperm and a donor egg, an unrelated gestational surrogate carried the pregnancy, and the next chapter of DeFilippi’s life began in 2006 with the birth of his daughter.

“Having Anna is the best decision I ever made,” DeFilippi says of his now 7-year-old who starts second grade next month. “There is nothing more joyful than when I hear her say the word ‘Daddy.’ Nothing compares with that.”

Gestational Surrogates and Fatherhood?

With his nontraditional route to parenthood, DeFilippi is part of two trends. The number of single-father households grew from less than 300,000 in 1960 to more than 2.6 million in 2011, according to the Pew Research Center, while the number of children born to gestational surrogates rose from 738 in 2004 to 1,593 in 2011, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

Dr. Charles Coddington, the society’s president-elect, says that in his practice at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., he has not had a single man seek a child through surrogacy. “It’s not very common at all,” he said.

Most of his patients seeking the use of a gestational surrogate are married women who cannot carry a child because of illness, though he has seen same-sex couples and single women as well.

DeFilippi said surrogacy was the only option for him. Adoption would have involved “too much prying” and taken too long, he said. And the chances that a woman he would meet in his late 50s would want to have children, he joked, were “between none and zero.”

“I wanted to have a kid,” he recalled, someone to pass on his traditions to. “I figured this is the time I have to do it. Nobody tells me I can’t do something. I come up with the solution.”

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Intended Parents Surrogacy

A Message From Wendy: “Intended Parents Hiring Two Surrogates”

What may be expected when IPs hire two surrogatessurrogates?

A new trend on the rise seems to be IPs hiring two GCs at a time.  The reason for this is that some IPs know that they want a larger family but do not want the risk of a woman carrying multiple babies.  They typically only implant one embryo into each GC – depending on the quality of the embryo.

An Intended Parents Surrogacy Example From SAA

We recently had a case in Connecticut like this where both carriers went to transfer the same day and they both live in the state of Georgia.  The embryo quality was a little questionable for one of the males (same sex couple) therefore they implanted two embryos in one GC and one in the other.  The carrier who had the single embryo transfer is pregnant and the other is not.

The GC whose pregnancy result was negative was a little upset and felt as though she was letting the parents down  but it happens!  One thing I ALWAYS encourage my ladies is that these parents know good and well the odds going into the surrogacy process.  They understand the risk and small percentage chance on that first transfer.  Don’t beat yourself up for something that you truly have no control over!  As long as you are following the medications protocol and doing what you are supposed to do, you have got to let fate take its course.

BEST of luck to both ladies and IPs for a happy outcome!

-Wendy

As a followup to this post, both Surro-mamas are expecting a singleton, doing extremely well and due this fall! The soon-to-be dads are ECSTATIC!!!  In addition we have had another duo with a heterosexual couple begin their journeys in OH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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A Surrogacy Story: Making History for Same-Sex Couples (Part 2)

 surrogacyMaking History For Same-Sex Couples: Jennifer Menges, 33

 

Click Here To Read Part 1 of Jennifer’s Surrogacy Story

At 39 weeks, they all showed up at the hospital for her c-section. “One of the fathers was totally freaked out and didn’t want to see blood, I think, hoping he could just look through a window, from a distance, but he ultimately came around, and all four of us were in the OR,” she says. “We had a coordinator who was helping us with all of the logistics, which was great, because normally they wouldn’t have allowed so many people in there.”

Jennifer had given birth to her own children at home, so a hospital c-section with a team of doctors and nurses, was a very different experience for her. “I was chattering from the epidural and the fathers kept asking if I was okay,” she recalls. “I didn’t want them to be scared, so I kept telling them I was totally fine, trying to make it a positive experience for them.” When the babies came out, each weighing around 7.5 pounds, the doctors handed them to their fathers, and the new family spent the next several days in a hospital room together. Jennifer also agreed to pump breast milk for the twins, while she was still in the hospital. So, the two families saw a lot of each other in the first few days of the twins’ lives.

Jennifer’s kids came to visit as well, and were so excited by what their Mom had done. “Our kids think we’re like Santa Claus, giving families children,” Jennifer explains. “Still, they were happy to have their mom back, and we were all looking forward to getting our lives back to normal. Some surrogates say they feel sad leaving the hospital without a baby. I was happy to have done this, but ready to move on to the next part of our life.”

The day she got out of the hospital, she and her husband, along with the Dads, went down to the courthouse to make it official. They signed papers and went through a legal procedure that essentially removed Jennifer and David’s names from the birth certificate, and included the two fathers instead. They became the first surrogate family in the country to do this. “The judge said it was a defining day in history, and that she wished she could have married the two men right then and there.”

It was such an incredible experience for Jennifer and her family that, a few years later, she decided to become a surrogate for a same-sex couple in Michigan. “This time, I skipped the agency, and did all of the paperwork and logistical stuff myself,” she says. “It just seemed more fair to me because these couples end up spending such insane amounts of money on egg donors and IVF and embryo transfers, I felt we could eliminate some of the extraneous costs.” In general, surrogates in the US are usually paid in monthly installments. The contracts are always worded carefully, implying that the fee is for care and expenses, not a lump sum for the use of the surrogate’s body. Once again, Jennifer went to California for the embryo transfer and got pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl, born in October 2010.

Jennifer still keeps in touch with the two families she’s helped, regularly getting emails, pictures and Christmas cards. She says she would love to one day be a surrogate again, even the physical burden of carrying two sets of healthy-sized, full-term twins has left her with back problems. Still, she cherishes her surrogacy experiences: “It was such a rewarding thing for me, to give these wonderful, loving couples the children they deserved,” she says. “I have zero regret and would do it again for them in a heartbeat.”

 

Story posted via http://pregnant.thebump.com/getting-pregnant/fertility-problems/articles/surrogate-stories.aspx

 

 

 


If you would like more information about surrogacy or are interested in becoming a surrogate mother, please contact Surrogates Across America.

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A Surrogacy Story: Making History for Same-Sex Couples (Part 1)

surrogacyMaking History For Same-Sex Couples: Jennifer Menges, 33

 

In 2005, Jennifer Menges was a stay-at-home mom, raising her three children in the suburbs of Minneapolis. Through a parenting website, she had met another mother who had been a surrogate for a family, and was now trying to get that child back. “I was absolutely horrified for that poor family, and shocked that this woman would even attempt to claim that child as her own,” Jennifer recalls. “I started researching surrogacy and discovered that what this woman was doing, wasn’t at all the norm. And the more I looked into the experience of surrogacy, the more I thought that it was something I could totally do.” She had donated her eggs while in college to help pay her tuition, and saw surrogacy as another way she could help families desperate for a child.

In 2006, Jennifer joined an agency, one that was working with same sex couples, and it matched her with two Jewish men in New York City, who already had one adopted son. “At the time, Minnesota was very surrogate-friendly and same-sex-friendly, while New York was not,” she says. “It seemed so unfair to me that there were so many laws, preventing a loving couple from being parents, just because of their sexuality.” Because of all of the laws in New York, the couple had no choice but to seek a surrogate from out-of-state.

They also decided to use an egg donor from California, and to do the embryo transfer there at a clinic that would allow each of the men to fertilize a separate set of eggs with their own sperm (rather than using just one man’s sperm). Up until then, clinics weren’t willing to work with more than one father, concerned that mixing samples in utero would be somehow less successful. (To this day, some clinics still won’t work with two sperm donors.) In February 2006, they transferred the best quality embryo from each father’s “batch,” and Jennifer became pregnant with the couple’s twins. They were set to become the first surrogate family to have twins by two different Dads.

While some in her community questioned Jennifer’s choice to become a surrogate for a same sex couple, even going so far as to refer to the twins as, “gay-bies,” her family, and even her church, embraced what she was doing. “It’s a pretty lenient Lutheran Church to begin with, and they were really supportive of the fact that we were helping others,” Jennifer says. “They’d even pray for us and for the intended parents. I think everyone’s main concern was whether or not we’d be able to give up the babies without it breaking our hearts.”

Both Jennifer and her husband, David, treated the pregnancy as they had with their own three children. “We’d play music for the babies in my belly, and my husband would talk to them, but we still never felt like they were ours,” she explains. During the course of the pregnancy, the same-sex couple came to Minnesota about every eight weeks, and they talked every day. “I think that’s actually the saddest part when the experience is over — people think it’s hard to give up the baby, but it’s harder giving up that bond you create with the parents,” she says.

Although Jennifer didn’t feel that the twin girls were hers, when it came to their birth, her maternal instincts kicked in. “My doctor wanted to deliver the twins at 36 weeks, but I just didn’t feel right about it, and was sure the babies just weren’t ready to come out,” she recalls. “I talked it over with the intended parents who agreed with me, so I dodged the doctor’s office, and stayed off my feet for the last three weeks of the pregnancy.”

In our next post we will share Part 2 of Jennifer’s Surrogacy Story…

 

Story posted via http://pregnant.thebump.com/getting-pregnant/fertility-problems/articles/surrogate-stories.aspx

 

 

 


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Jennifer and Sarah’s Surrogacy Story (Part 2)

gestational surrogateClick Here to Read Part One of Jennifer and Sarah’s Surrogacy Story

 

After getting the go-ahead from the therapists and a clean bill of health from the doctors, they did embryo transfers and Jennifer got pregnant with twin girls. “I had already carried my own twins, so I knew the challenges [of being pregnant with multiples], and was ready for them,” she recounts. As with her own pregnancy, she ended up on restricted bed rest, but luckily had a flexible enough job as a university clinician that she could work a lot from home.

Only this time, Jennifer was a lot more anxious, feeling that it was her responsibility to keep the girls healthy. “It was like taking care of someone else’s kids — you don’t want to do anything that could cause any damage,” she says. Just as she had been with her own pregnancy, she was cautious of her health, and sure to take breaks and stay off her feet when she felt rundown.

Jennifer’s pregnancy brought the friends even closer. “We just felt really bonded to each other, like family,” she says. “As I was getting bigger, Sarah would come over and take my kids out for the day. We were there for each other.” Still, despite the close friendship, Sarah and her husband insisted on doing everything by the book. “They wanted to pay me, and I kept refusing, because I wasn’t doing it for the money,” Jennifer recalls. “But ultimately, it was what they felt they needed to do, I think because it made them feel that it was more fair.

At 35 weeks, Jennifer’s water broke and she went straight to the hospital for a c-section. During delivery, Sarah was in the operating room, snapping pictures. “It was really surreal and kind of crazy. I was shaking from the epidural and physiologically overwhelmed, but the babies were healthy, which was such a relief,” she says. She says it was very easy for her to hand the little girls to their parents, because she knew she would be in their lives forever.

Five years later, Jennifer is still incredibly close to the healthy twin girls she carried in her belly for almost nine months. “They consider me an aunt, and my kids are like cousins to them,” she says. “And in a way, I’m kind of like a Grandma because I get to spoil them and enjoy them and then give them back.” In the end, the twin girls weren’t just a blessing for Sarah — they were a gift to Jennifer and her family too.

 

*Name changed for clarity. “Sarah’s” name is also Jennifer.

 

Story posted via: http://pregnant.thebump.com/getting-pregnant/fertility-problems/articles/surrogate-stories.aspx

 

 


If you would like more information about surrogacy or are interested in becoming a surrogate mother, please contact Surrogates Across America.

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