Girl going to Ukraine ‘wasn’t entirely my decision’

  • Hayden Panettiere says it was “not entirely” her choice to send her daughter to Ukraine in 2018.
  • She said that after doing so, Wladimir Klitschko sent papers to get custody of their daughter.
  • She said it can be “terrifying to talk about” because of the power of the Klitschko family in Ukraine.

Hayden Panettiere spoke at length about her daughter Kaya’s custody situation on Wednesday’s episode of “Red Table Talk” with Jada Pinkett SmithAdrienne Banfield Norris and their guest co-host Kelly Osbourne.

Asked about the custody arrangement – Kaya’s father, Wladimir Klitschko, currently has custody of the 7-year-old – Panettiere said “it was not entirely my decision” to send his daughter Kaya to Ukraine permanently in 2018. The actor said she was in treatment for alcoholism at the time.

“I didn’t even know this was happening until she was already there,” the ‘Heroes’ star said.

She added that while she initially didn’t have a conversation with Klitschko about a custody agreement and visitation plan for then 3-year-old Kaya, she allegedly told him he “was logical” that he would care for their daughter while Panettiere worked toward sobriety.

But she said she would have assumed that once things got better the deal might change.

During the conversation, which begins around the 21st minute of the episode, Panettiere hinted that she had signed papers to give Klitschko “full custody” of Kaya without talking about it first, which she called it “heartbreaking”.

“I was going to work on myself and I was going to get better,” she explained, saying she had hoped that once that happened, Kaya would be able to come back to the United States to hang out. with her.

“But that didn’t happen. I thought she was going to visit him like she always had,” the actor continued, claiming that they had previously reached an agreement that Kaya would go on the go- returns between Nashville, where Panettiere was based, and Ukraine. . “And then once she was there…it was immediately, ‘I want full custody,’ which shocked me.”

Panettiere called Klitschko a “fantastic dad” but said “kids need their moms” as they get older.

Emmys Hayden Panettiere

Panettiere pregnant with Kaya.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images



“I never put her in danger,” she said, noting that she didn’t think she had done anything around Kaya that would have caused U.S. authorities to take Kaya from her. “That would never have happened.”

She said that after Klitschko won full custody of Kaya in Ukraine, she had to go back to treatment “several times.”

“He wasn’t there to see the kind of mother I was,” she said. “And if he had been, maybe it would have been different.”

Panettiere said she hopes the custody agreement will one day change. She told the co-hosts it was still “very terrifying to talk about” because Klitschko is a former professional Ukrainian boxer and his brother Vitali Klitschko is the current mayor of the city of Kyiv, so the family has a lot of power there.

Hayden Panettiere and Wladimir Klitschko

Hayden Panettiere and Wladimir Klitschko in 2013 in Milan, Italy.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images



Although Panettiere has continually said that Klitschko is a good father, the actor said his daughter has become very “stoic”. She said Kaya also had to learn about the war in Ukraine because although she now lives elsewhere for her safety, her father and uncle are fighting on the front lines.

The ‘Nashville’ star said he was told Kaya had started asking other women if she could ‘call them mom’, which Panettiere described as a ‘call for help’ and a “traumatic reaction”.

“My breath stopped and my heart stopped,” Panettiere said of his response when Klitschko told him.

She said she wished Klitschko realized how much Kaya needed his mother and that he would allow her to visit the United States. For now, Panettiere is the one going to visit her daughter in Europe and she said she had had “no clues” that this agreement would change.

Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko

Vladimir Klitschko.


Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images



Panettiere spoke first to have alcoholism to people journalist Aili Nahas in July. The actress said she had been addicted to opioids and alcohol since she was a teenager and continued into adulthood.

In the People’s July article, Panettiere said seeing Kaya go overseas was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

“But I wanted to be a good mother to her – and sometimes that means letting them go,” she added.

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