Actress Hayden Panettiere gave birth to her daughter Kaya in 2014
The Scream VI actress shares Kaya, who was born in December 2014, with her ex-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko. When the former couple split in 2018, Panettiere made the heartbreaking decision to have Kaya live in Ukraine with Klitschko, and lost custody of her daughter. At the time, Panettiere was struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction and later underwent both trauma therapy and inpatient treatment.
"I felt horribly guilty but at the same time, I was trying to tell myself if I'm not okay, if I'm not good then I cannot be the best mom to [Kaya]," the actress said of having Kaya reside in Ukraine during a 2022 episode of Red Table Talk. "And I was going through such a hard time and I knew the most unselfish thing I could do was to make that hard decision and just try to work on myself."
Though Kaya still resides in Europe with Klitschko, Panettiere stays in regular contact with her.
"We are fortunate that we can travel a lot," she told PEOPLE of her vacations with her daughter in 2022. "She's a happy kid open to a huge world. And she has more love than anybody I've ever met."
Panettiere added, "She has a beautiful life. I was just with her. She's just an amazing child. She's smart and she's funny and for whatever reason, she still loves me."
Here's everything to know about Hayden Panettiere's daughter, Kaya Evdokia Klitschko.
Panettiere announced Kaya's sex by accident
While walking the red carpet at the Emmys in August 2014, Panettiere showed off a growing baby bump — and also accidentally let the sex of her baby slip during an interview. After sharing that she was expecting a girl, she said she was excited about going baby shopping and painting her daughter's room.
One month before giving birth to Kaya, Panettiere opened up about how thrilled she was to be "having a girl first," telling Hello! Magazine, "I feel like I know a lot about raising a strong woman ... I feel very empowered myself and I think my daughter will, too."
Kaya was born in 2014
Panettiere and her then-fiancé Klitschko welcomed their daughter Kaya in Hawaii on Dec. 9, 2014. The actress's rep confirmed the news exclusively to PEOPLE, saying the baby weighed 7 pounds and 14 ounces and measured 20 inches long at birth.
"We are over the moon and madly in love!" the pair told PEOPLE, with the actress later saying of Klitschko, "I'm lucky if I can get my hands on the kid. He's like, 'No, no, I got her.' Which is exactly what I thought he would be like."
The new parents also got a lot of support from Klitschko's mother. "[She] was desperate to take the baby for a night," Panettiere told PEOPLE when Kaya was two weeks old. "She looks like she didn't get much sleep, but I feel well-rested!"
She added of her newborn daughter, "She's really so sweet. I'm sure that's the way it's meant to be, because when they are putting you through the wringer you're like, 'You are so lucky you're cute!' "
Panettiere struggled with postpartum depression
The Heroes star has been very open about her experience with postpartum depression and addiction following Kaya's birth. She told E! News' The Rundown in 2023 that she "wishes somebody told her'' what she might feel and that she wishes she "knew to look out for it."
"I never heard any stories about it at all. I just thought there was something seriously wrong with me, so I thought, '[Alcohol] will fix this. Duh!' " she explained. "And it didn't. It does for a moment, but then it made everything worse."
Simultaneously, Panettiere said her relationship with Klitschko suffered as he believed she was responsible for her postpartum depression. "[He's] a man that doesn't have any sisters," she explained on Red Table Talk in September 2022. "So he really thought that I was doing it to myself and just that I could choose to snap out of it."
She entered treatment for substance abuse for the first time when Kaya was four months old, and is proud to be doing better now. She "looks forward" to the day she can talk about her experiences with Kaya.
"I'm grateful that I'm equipped with the information and with the experience that I've had with postpartum depression," she told Women's Health in March 2023.
Kaya lives with her dad in Europe
After Panettiere and Klitschko split in 2018, the Nashville actress made the decision for Kaya to live with her father in Ukraine amidst her struggles with addiction. However, at the time, Panettiere didn't realize the decision would be permanent.
"I was gonna go work on myself and I was gonna get better," Panettiere said during her 2022 appearance on Red Table Talk. "And when I got better that things could change and she could come to me and I could have my time with her. But that didn't happen."
She also called relinquishing custody of Kaya and signing the papers the "most heartbreaking thing I've ever had to do in my life."
"It was the hardest thing I could do," Panettiere had previously told PEOPLE. "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 is multilingual
While speaking to PEOPLE in 2024, Panettiere revealed her daughter can speak five languages.
"English, Russian, Ukrainian, German, and she's now getting on with her French ... she's a genius," the actress shared.
She continued, "I think language is one thing we do poorly in the U.S. By the time we start teaching them languages, their brain is already too formed. But when they're babies and young, they're like a sponge. You can teach them anything. She doesn't appreciate it now, but I keep telling her she will!"
During a 2017 appearance on Live with Kelly!, Panettiere admitted then-2-year-old Kaya was "really good at Russian" — and had even developed a Russian accent.
Kaya is a fearless skier
While her father is a professional boxer, Kaya has shown talent in another sport: skiing.
Kaya began skiing at just 2 years old, with Panettiere showing off a video of her daughter on the slopes during her 2017 appearance on Live with Kelly!.
The actress also discussed Kaya's fearlessness on the mountain to Good Morning America in 2017. "She has no fear," Panettiere said. "She would go straight into a wall if you let her."
She is obsessed with horses
In February 2024, Panettiere shared some of her daughter's interests with PEOPLE, including Kaya's love of horses.
"I believe it's nature over nurture," she said of her 9-year-old daughter. "I have horseback riding in my genetics — my great-uncle once won the Kentucky Derby. I got a video of her the other day watching Racing Stripes, which is a movie she watches on repeat, and she was sitting on this toy hippo and kind of racing the hippo and going crazy — I thought its ears were going to rip off!"
In addition to horses, Kaya is also a fan of swimming — something she has in common with her mom.
"She's just like me," Panettiere said. "When I was working on Nashville, I was pregnant with her and just spent a lot of time in my pool. And she came out just loving water."
Kaya inspired Panettiere to start a charity
Kaya has been a driving force behind Panettiere's dedication to her newest mission — Hoplon International, the charity she founded in March 2022 to raise money for Ukraine amid the war with Russia. Kaya lived in the country with her father until the upheaval made it unsafe to stay there.
Panettiere shared her concern for Kaya and the situation in Ukraine with PEOPLE, saying, "What she's dealing with and what we're all going through right now in regards to Ukraine is really really hard. I had a conversation with her and the only question she had was, 'Why is Putin doing this?' It's so heartbreaking."
Panettiere explained that with Hoplon International, "every penny goes directly to the front lines." She added, "Wlad and I have been working hand in hand. He and Vitali are on the ground fighting for their country. Every time I hear his voice or get a text from him, it's such a relief."
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