Ahmet Buyukozdemir took care of Vladislav Nelbuyin for more than 18 years after discovering that the Russian boy, 12, lost his father and was living in a coffeehouse in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Buyukozdemir, 77, told Anadolu Agency of 28 years of his journey with Nelbuyin and said love sees no religion, race, or language barrier.
The two met when Buyukozdemir was working in TRNC in 1974 after the Cyprus Peace Operation and saw Nelbuyin living in a coffeehouse after his father died. Buyukozdemir said from that day he not only opened the doors of his home to the young boy but also his heart.
Buyukozdemir said he grew up as an orphan after his mother died when he was young and he had to live with his grandfather, so he could relate to growing up without the affection of his parents.
He said that he would have sleepless nights when the boy felt sick but said they spent wonderful years together.
Nelbuyin called himself Huseyin, the name of Buyukozdemir's father and he was so moved by Buyukozdemir that he decided to convert to Islam.
Buyukozdemir taught the boy Turkish and viewed him as his child because he did not have children and never was married.
Regulations did not allow adopting
Buyukozdemir said he wanted to adopt Nelbuyin but the law did not allow it.
"His mother found us several months later but after seeing that Huseyin was happy with me, she allowed us to stay together. She also used to come to visit us," said Buyukozdemir.
He said the love and respect between the two never failed, and Nelbuyin calls him on video every day to check on him.
"He became my son and me, his father. Now I even have grandchildren. They do not know Turkish but every year when they come to Turkey they run to me and hug me calling me grandfather Ahmet," he said.
He said his son decided to get married to a Moldovian girl 10 years ago and went to live in Russia.
Buyukozdemir settled in Antalya after Nelbuyin's wedding in Chisinau, he said he helped his son financially to hold the wedding and buy a car and also gifted his house in Antalya to Nelbuyin.
Every year for a month Nelbuyini, his wife, and three kids visit Buyukozdemir in Antalya while Buyukozdemir travels abroad to see them.
"I will be in constant contact with them until I die. I love Huseyin very much, but when I see his children, I get a whole other different feeling for them," he said.
Nelbuyin, now 40, said he saw nothing but goodness from Buyukozdemir and had the best years of his life with his father.
"We have a bond of love beyond the father and child relationships that I see around me. We will never leave him alone, every year with my wife and children we will visit him in Antalya throughout my life," he said.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.