Man who helped thousands of Ukrainian children find loving homes in the U.S. dies defending his country

For more than 25 years, Serge Zevlever helped more than 3,500 children in his home country of Ukraine find loving adoptive homes in the U.S.

The married father and grandfather, who had a home in St Charles, Missouri, specialized in finding homes for Ukrainian children with Down syndrome, other special needs and teenagers.

Now those families he has helped all over the country are mourning after the man described as a hero has died fighting for his home country.

Serge founded a nonprofit called LifeLine Hosting in 2019 and every winter and summer, he would bring dozens of Ukrainian children to the U.S. to be hosted by American families for a cultural experience with hopes of leading to adoption.
He stayed in Ukraine after bringing 38 Ukrainian orphans back to their home country from their winter hosting in January, as per KDSK News.

Couple Kyle and Kelly Dirkes who adopted their sweet baby girl thanks to Serge said they never considered Ukraine for their adoption journey until they met him.

Originally they went through the process of adopting through an orphanage in Russia, but said “God had other plans.”

“2012 ended with the stroke of Putin’s pen and a screeching halt to our plan to bring home two more tiny little Russians from Charlotte’s orphanage to complete our family,” Kelly told Love What Matters.
“Crushed and broken, we sat on our completed dossier for months. Then I saw a single photograph of a chubby-cheeked, thoroughly grumpified baby in a pink sleeper. She was ours from the moment we saw that photo—and we agreed to travel to the place we swore we would avoid.”

They said they arrived in Ukraine and met Serge, a man who they had heard many rumors about, including that he was some kind of “mob boss” in the adoption world.

“It took five (minutes) to learn that underneath that world-weary, hardened exterior beat the heart of a man who loved his job and the children and families he served. These babies and children that most of the world ignored were his mission,” Kelly said.

When they had completed the process of adopting their baby girl Louisa Kelly described the moment that Serge handed her to them.
“He scooped her into his arms when we met in Kyiv—and the smile on his face was priceless. Seeing children in families clearly was his greatest joy and reward.”

That was in 2012 and then in 2015 the couple did it all over again with girls Margaret and Grace.

“Serge not only helped us complete our family—he helped us fall in love with Ukraine and its people,” Kelly wrote.

According to Kelly, Serge was shot and killed on Saturday while helping to defend Kyiv from Putin’s Russian forces, reportedly the first American casualty of the war.
She pointed out as a dual citizen Serge could have chosen safety.

“He died as he lived, a hero in every sense of the word. Rest well, dear Serge.” Kelly said.

“May the angels carry you home to your well-deserved reward, and may the children you loved and have gone ahead run to meet you.

“Your legacy will live on in the thousands of families you had a hand in bringing together. Glory to Ukraine.”

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