INDIANAPOLIS — A young man from Ukraine is safe in Indianapolis after fleeing Ukraine on foot. The trip was made possible by a worldwide network of people and his adoptive parents in Indianapolis.
The Wright family is bigger than most. Over 23 years, the Wrights have maintained loving relationships with 44 foreign exchange students from across the globe who have called the Wrights their host parents.
But in 2017, one Ukrainian orphan stole their heart.
"The moment I saw the photo I said, 'Oh, dear I think this might be our son,'" said his mother, Elizabeth Wright.
That orphan is Anton Bezborodov. The Wrights were hoping to adopt Anton after he stayed with them for Christmas, but they weren't able to adopt him due to Ukrainian laws.
But that didn't stop them from adopting him into their hearts. They continued to support him from afar by calling him every week and providing for him financially and emotionally.
"Get up early in the morning and video chat. We talk about everything. I want to know everything you did this week. Did you eat enough this week?" said his father, Thomas Wright.
Then war broke out in Ukraine.
"My greatest fear through all this is that one day I would text every morning and no reply. If he went to the army and was killed, no one would ever know that we loved him. No one would ever know he calls me dad," said Thomas.
The Wrights acted fast to put together a plan.
"In my parental panic, I just wanted him out of the country. I want him away from the war," said Thomas Wright.
Anton remembers it being chaotic when he tried to flee. "You could see people were panicking. Women were crying," said Anton.
He wasn't allowed to leave Ukraine because he is a 20-year-old man.
However, Thanks to a network of foreign exchange families, they were able to come up with a plan to get him across the border to Romania. But it would be a daunting journey that would require an all-night hike in freezing temperatures, through a forest, and across rivers to reach the border.
When he was safe, Anton called his parents and said he was ready to come home. Through another connection, Thomas met a man who could legally get Anton across the Mexican border into San Diego.
"I get a phone call from Anton and It was the best words I ever heard. He said 'Dad, I'm in America and I want to come home now,'" said Thomas.
He arrived in Indy in April.
"After I stepped my foot on the United States ground, I had so much relief," said Anton.
Anton is now settled at home with his parents and his adopted brother, Limba.
The Wrights said the journey to this moment still doesn't feel real, but they wouldn't change a thing. "We have wanted this for so long. Part of me has wanted to shout out 'thank you, God' because my kid is home," said Thomas.
The Wrights still plan to adopt Anton, but it won’t help his immigration status because he is too old.
Now they are looking for a pathway for Anton to get permanent residency and citizenship in America.