Ukrainian-American adoption advocate dies in invasion

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man who split his time between the St. Louis area and Ukraine, helping arrange adoptions of children with medical needs, has died amid the fighting in the war-torn country.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Serge Zevlever was killed when he volunteered to check on a commotion outside a Kyiv bomb shelter on Feb. 26, his daughters said. That was just two days after Russian forces launched an invasion of Ukraine.

“He was not in a scuffle, he was not on the front lines,” his eldest daughter Alisa Sander said. “He went outside to see if it was safe for everyone else.”

A U.S. State Department spokesman confirmed the death of a U.S. citizen in the conflict that day, without naming Zevlever, and offered condolences to his family.

Zevlever fled Ukraine in the years before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and eventually became a U.S. citizen.

“It was a wish of his mother that he get out and find a better, free life for his family,” his younger daughter Nicole Zevlever said.

Zevlever spoke to the Post-Dispatch in a 1999 interview about his job navigating a complicated patchwork of requirements from orphanages and local governments.

“My job,” he said, “is to take care of the parents while they’re overseas.”