WARSAW, Poland — Trevor Littleton is leaving his American Midwest life behind for the Ukrainian border, on a mission to find the stranded sibling of his adopted child.
A pastor from Painesville, Ohio, Littleton sprung into action when he learned his son’s sibling, Nastya, a 26-year-old single woman, was alone in a country now being invaded by its much larger neighbor. Even though Littleton adopted her younger brother, he still thinks of Nastya as family.
“We consider her our daughter too, and have visited her many times,” Littleton told The Daily Wire in an interview. “I’ve seen her community which is now in ashes. I can’t sit and watch from a distance and not do something. She’s my daughter and I’ll never stop looking for her.”
Nastya is one of the millions of Ukrainians whose lives have been upended by the Russian invasion. According to some estimates from the United Nations, 2 million refugees have fled the country as of Tuesday, and roughly 500 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the fighting. Many of the refugees have taken shelter in Hungary and Poland, which are on the country’s western border.
Littleton, 42, has several adopted children from Ukraine. He adopted two Ukrainian children in 2015, one near Kyiv, the Capitol, and one near Kharkiv, and two more from Mariupol a few years later. He has nine children in total.
Nastya, he says, was last known to be trapped in Mariupol, an eastern Ukrainian port city that has been under Russian siege. He has not heard from her since Wednesday.
In her last text messages to Littleton, Nastya told him: “[I]t’s very hard, because you don’t know where to sit, where to go, where to run…. I don’t sleep well at night, I have almost no sleep… I have nightmares… and I can’t video chat because I need silence to understand what is happening outside.”
“It’s very hard, and I’m very tired emotionally, I constantly sit, I’m afraid to lie down, but I tend to sleep very much,” she said.
Littleton announced his journey on his Instagram, writing, “I’d storm the threshold of Hell to protect my kids.”
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He’s no stranger to Ukraine, and speaks fondly of the country, having traveled there several times and visited for adoptions.
“It changed everything for us. We experienced their culture. We stayed in buildings that have now been bombed,” he said. “Our son is broken. We cannot fathom such a beautiful culture and people suffering. It changes everything for our family.”
Littleton said he’s in contact with other young adults fleeing, and hopes to set up a network while in Poland to help more families find loved ones. He expressed particular concern about the safety of orphans.
“Trafficking is a major problem at the border. So we also need to do what we can to protect these orphans as they cross,” Littleton told The Daily Wire. “Orphans are the most vulnerable to trafficking.”
Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.