Hayden Panettiere has spoken in depth for the first time about her custody situation with ex-husband, Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko. The IS Nashville He was a guest star on Facebook Watch Red Table Talk where she explained how her struggles with addiction led, in part, to her giving up custody of her 7-year-old daughter Kaya. In the heartbreaking conversation, Panettiere said that the biggest misconception about her is “the idea that I’m someone who would give up easily” or “give my baby away.”
“It was not entirely my decision,” said the 33-year-old host Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield Norris and guest host Kelly Osbourne on Wednesday. “In fact, I didn’t even know it was happening until she was already over [in Ukraine].”
Panettiere and Klitschko welcomed Kaya in 2014. They finally split in 2018 after ten years together. Privately, the actor battled alcohol and opioid addictions that coincided with his hit show Nashville coming to an end.
“I was pushing that bottle during that time off and it was bad. It was bad,” she admits. “When I finally called for help I was in the fetal position in bed, I couldn’t get out, in tears the whole time. Even though I knew I had to stop, I couldn’t . I couldn’t stop. I was stuck. in this horrible nightmare that would never end and all by myself. It was horrible and I knew I was ruining my health.”
Panettiere sent Kaya, almost 3 years old at the time, to Ukraine with her father.
“I felt very guilty, but at the same time I wanted to tell myself, if I’m not okay, if I’m not good, I can’t be the best mother for you,” she said. “I was going through such a hard time that I knew the most selfless thing I could do was to make that hard decision and just try to work on myself.”
“I thought this was an agreement you came to that you felt it would be better for your daughter to be with her father?” Banfield Norris asked.
“At first it wasn’t because it wasn’t a discussion,” replied the actor. “Two [Klitschko] He came to me and said, ‘I think because of where you are now and the difficulties you are having it would be good for her to be here with me for a while.’ If I’d probably had enough of a conversation, I’d say okay that makes sense, I get it. I will come there to visit and things like that. Because of the way it was done, he was very upset.”
Panettiere was under the impression that Kaya was going to visit Klitschko “as she always did.” Meanwhile, the actor planned to “go to work on myself” and “get better.” Then, she assumed that Kaya would continue to split her time between the US and Ukraine.
“When she was over there … it was immediately, ‘I want to keep her whole.’ Which was a shock to me,” Panettiere exclaimed. She finally signed with full custody, which she called “the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever, ever had to do in my life.”
Panettiere noted that Klitschko and his brother Vitali, who is the mayor of Kyiv, are icons in the “very male” country. “There wasn’t much I could do,” she said.
“[Klitschko] he thinks he is doing the right thing. It is a amazing father, it really is. But I don’t think he fully understands that [Kaya] it gets older… kids need their moms,” Panettiere said.
Osbourne chimed in and said she would have turned to self-destructive behavior if she were in Panettiere’s situation.
“I did,” replied the actor. “I had to go again and again for treatment.”
Related video: Hayden Panettiere on chronic opioid addiction, abusive relationship
Panettiere noted that her custody situation was “always very horrible to talk about.”
“confused [Klitschko] – like I said he’s a great father … but in this case we definitely don’t see eye to eye,” she shared, adding: “It’s scary, you don’t want to ruin anyone – especially the person who has control over your child.”
When news of Kaya’s living situation became public years ago, Panettiere said she received horrible comments from people that were “horrific and heartbreaking.” She explained that there is “so much misrepresentation” of her case in the media.
“And of course I take responsibility for the role I played,” she said. “There were certain things that I could not control, of course. I would have gotten myself more help than I did.”
Panettiere said that she has seen Kaya over the years – “I go over there” – but her daughter has not been to California where the actress now calls home. (Kaya no longer lives in Ukraine because of Russia’s unprovoked war.) She said she talks to Kaya on the phone and recalled one exchange of guts.
“I also remember her father calling me and he said, ‘Kaya is going around asking other women if she can call them mom,'” Panettiere shared. “My heart stopped and he was laughing, he thought this was funny. It was scary for me. He didn’t get it compared to me – that’s a trauma reaction. That’s a cry for help.”
Panettiere said she “tried to explain how much [Kaya] she needs her mother” because the case “could rear its ugly head later when she’s older.” She has received “no hints” that the custody arrangement will change.
“I’ve been told I can go over and see her any time. I just hope that one day when she’s old enough her opinion will be respected a little… side activity that,” Panettiere said.