Home sweet home


20-year-old Anton Bezborodov shows his excitement during a follow up interview on May 4. with reporter Zing Par. He plans to stay in Indiana and pursue soccer.

It’s been four years. Four years since he’s been back to the place he calls “home.” Four years since he felt the familiarity of his own room. But finally, with a deep sigh of relief, 20-year-old Anton knows he is finally home and safe. 

After Russia launched a full-scale invasion in Ukraine on Feb. 24, Anton Bezborodov had to go on the run to find safety. Now, he is safely in America and ready to begin a new chapter in his life thanks to the assistance of SHS orchestra teacher, Thomas Wright and some of Wright’s former exchange students. 

“It’s too easy to say I’m thankful because it’s much more than that,” Anton said. “I actually mean it, and they made a huge difference for me.”

At the beginning of March, Anton entered Hungary with the assistance of Viktor Tarr, a former exchange student of Wright’s. At the end of March, Wright traveled to Hungary to see Anton in the hopes of coming up with a plan on what to do next. After being encouraged by Wright’s Hungarian friends not to leave Anton in Hungary due to the political situation, Anton moved to Oldenburg, Germany to live with another of Wright’s former exchange students, Fabian Beuhring. 

Wright initially assumed Anton would settle as a refugee in Germany and that would be the end of his story, but to his surprise, this was only the beginning of Anton’s new chapter.

Thomas Wright (left) and Anton Bezborodov (right) are happy to be reunited once more.

SHS math teacher Jason Adler knew Wright through a Bible study held at the school. Wright shared the situation going on with Anton, and upon hearing this, Adler contacted a friend, Jason Carter, who worked for a Lutheran ministry. Carter then forwarded his message to a friend who worked for a Ukrainian ministry in California that helped Ukrainians with the immigration process. Carter then texted Wright in Ukrainian shortly after. This text message was ultimately what gave Anton a new hope.

“It was just kind of fortunate being at the right place at the right time,”Adler said. “We saw God’s hands working the whole thing.”

Wright, who had no idea what Carter’s text said, forwarded the message to Anton. On Easter Sunday, Anton called Wright and announced his intention to relocate to Mexico. As it turned out, Carter’s message included instructions on how to get to America.

Anton flew from Germany to Cancun, Mexico and then to Tijuana, where he met a group of Ukrainian Americans who assisted him and other Ukranians who hoped to cross the border into the U.S. He began completing his paperwork after sleeping in a refugee center in Tijuana for a few hours. 

On March 25, Anton crossed the border and four hours later, he called Wright and said, “Dad, I’m in America.”  

“It was the best words I have ever heard, and I’m crying on the phone, and he’s crying on the phone, and he says,’I want to come home now,’” Wright said.

Wright quickly went online and booked him a flight from California to Indiana. Anton was home in Indianapolis after only a few hours. Wright hugged Anton as he picked him up from the airport.

“It was a tremendous feeling. We had tears of joy. It was almost like having your child born and holding him in your hands the first time,” Wright said. “It was just exciting to have him here.”

Anton is on “humanitarian parole,” which allows him to stay in the country for a year. This allows for time to work on a more formal immigration process. 

Wright intends to adopt Anton and make him a legal member of his family, but due to Anton’s age, this will not change his immigration status. Despite this, Wright says their dedication to making this work strengthens their family’s bond.

Anton was studying Ukrainian law at the University of Sumy, but now that he is in America, he wants to do something related to sports. Wright and his family are looking into options for Anton to continue his education and play soccer here. 

Anton Bezborodov plans to visit Ukraine once the war is over and is willing to wait over a decade.

If possible, Anton wants to have a life here in America permanently. He says he has many new opportunities and feels like he’s arrived at his forever home. 

“I feel like I belong here, and I love it here,” he said.