Hayden Panettiere Says Giving Ex Wladimir Klitschko Custody Of Their Daughter Was The 'Most Heartbreaking Thing' She's Ever Done

Hayden Panettiere is opening up about her custody agreement with ex-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko.

The 33-year-old sat down with Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and… Kelly Osbourne (??) for an episode of Red Table Talk which will debut Wednesday, and in a sneak peek Hayden is seen looking back on probably her toughest moment as a mom — when she relinquished full custody of her daughter amidst her struggles with addiction.

As many of you likely remember, Kaya has lived a half a world away with her father in Ukraine since 2018. The former professional boxer is one of the nation’s most famous celebrities and an avid activist, which prompted many to worry he may be a target in the Russian invasion. However, as we’ve previously reported, Hayden assured fans he and their daughter are indeed safe. But it sounds like the decision to sign off on her little girl’s cross-continental move wasn’t an easy one…

She explained the decision “wasn’t a discussion” with Wladimir — he didn’t ask her opinion on whether their daughter should live solely with him. If he had, she would have agreed. She continued:  

“If he had come to me and said, ‘I think because of where you’re at right now and your struggles that you’re having it would be good for her to be over here with me for a while’… I would’ve said, ‘OK, that makes sense, I get it, I’ll come there to visit and stuff like that.”

But as it was, she didn’t need to agree. She just had to relent.

But that alone was hard enough for the Heroes actress. She said: 

“It was the worst signing those papers, the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever, ever had to do in my life… It was the hardest thing I could do. But the best thing for my daughter was to make sure she was okay, take care of myself and make sure I could be a good mom to her. And sometimes that means letting go.”

She had told herself at the time she’d turn her life around right away, but as anyone who’s struggled with addiction knows, that’s not how it works:

“I was gonna go work on myself, I was gonna get better, and when I got better then things would change and she could come to me and I could have my time with her but that didn’t happen.”

So sad. But it was the right call. As she told the Smith fam, Kaya is not only safe, she “has a beautiful life” with her father.

Back in July, we reported on Hayden’s decision to open up about the “rock bottom” time in her life when she was addicted to pills and alcohol, which she noted began around the time she was just 15 years old — and at the hands of people on her own team, at that! She explained at the time that after Kaya was born in 2014, she struggled with postpartum depression, noting: 

“I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn’t want to spend any time with her. There was just this gray color in my life.”

She admitted Wladimir didn’t want to be around her due to her addiction struggles, and that’s ultimately why he took their daughter out of that environment.

However, it appears things are getting better and lately she’s been able to spend more time with her, both in the United States AND Ukraine. We just hope that relationship continues to blossom! See more from her convo (below) and see the full Red Table Talk interview Wednesday!

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