“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,” says Hayden Panettiere about relinquishing custody of her only child to ex Wladimir Klitschko.
Georgia Slater is a writer/reporter who writes about parents for PEOPLE. She started working for the company in 2018 as an intern and later came back to work as an intern on the Food team. After she graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019, she worked as an intern for USA Today. In April 2021, she began working as a Parents writer/reporter.
The actress, 33, is on Facebook Watch’s Red Table Talk this week. She talks to co-hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield Norris, and guest host Kelly Osbourne about giving custody of her only child to ex Wladimir Klitschko.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” said Panettiere.
Banfield Norris asks the actress to explain why she believes it is best for her daughter to be with her dad.
The actress explains that at first she didn’t want to go because it wasn’t a discussion. If Klitschko had come to her and said that because of her struggles, it would be good for her to be with him for a while, she would have said that it made sense and she would come to visit.
Stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer by signing up for their free daily newsletter.
“I was upset because of how it was done,” she said. “It was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”
“I was going to work on myself, I was going to 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,” she adds.
The Nashville star said with a laugh, “Wow, that child came out of me! But she is smarter than me. And she’s going to be taller than me!”
Panettiere struggled with addiction to alcohol and pills in 2018 and made the difficult decision to have her daughter Kaya live with her father, boxing champ Klitschko, in Ukraine.
She recalled it being the hardest thing she could do. The best thing for her daughter was to make sure she was okay though. To do that she had to take care of herself and make sure she could be a good mom to her. And sometimes that meant letting go.
Elvira Olson is a news reporter for the ABC News affiliate in Los Angeles. She has more than 20 years of experience in journalism and has won numerous awards for her work, including an Emmy.