When Natalia Roberts dropped off her 15-year-old daughter, Sofia Petrova, at the airport, she said the teen would be spending just three weeks in Siberia, where she would meet her birth father. But once the plane landed, Roberts reportedly told Petrova the trip would be much longer than that.
Two years later, the teenager is still stranded in Siberia and pleading to return to the U.S. Her mother and stepfather, though, are defending their decision to send the girl overseas, claiming that her behavior was becoming "uncontrollable."
Sofia Petrova (Photo Credit: WUSA-TV)
Roberts and her husband, James, claim that the girl had run away, was using drugs, brought boys into the home without permission, and that she stole $1,000 from them.
The problems were apparently so severe that they sent her away from the only life she had ever known in Virginia. The two detailed their situation in e-mails to WUSA-TV.
"The behavior was becoming worse and we saw no solution. Worse, it was affecting the other children in the house, especially the outbursts that would last until 2:00 a.m.," her stepfather wrote in an email to WUSA-TV.
Roberts added that it was not an easy choice, but that it was the "right" one.
Petrova and her friends, though, disagree.
"I guess it was a form of punishment, but after having two year to think about it, I can't help feeling that it was pre-planned in some way, because to be on an airplane by yourself internationally, you have to be 15-years-old," Petrova told WUSA-TV. "And she sent me here a week after my 15th birthday."
Her best friend, Michaela Bennett, is defending Petrova, who is now 17 and living on her own in Siberia. Bennett and others are working fervently to help bring the girl back to the U.S. before she turns 18; Petrova claims getting a visa will become much more difficult at that point.
"She never did drugs. She never smoked. Nothing. She may drink a little, but all teenagers do that," Bennett old WUSA-TV.
While in Siberia, Petrova has faced monumental challenges. When she arrived, she didn't know the language. And Bennett claims her father, an abusive alcoholic, often hit her. After a few months in his home, Petrova, who said there was rarely food to eat, fled to a youth center, where she became depressed and tried to take her own life.
Watch Petrova's story, below:
Now, she's living in a Siberian hotel where she also works.
"Financially, I support myself. I work 60 hours a week," she told WUSA-TV. "I pay for my school tuition right now, for online, and I don't see anything for the future."
She added, "I would just be happy to be on American soil."
While the teen was originally born in Russia, she came to the U.S. with her mother when she was only two years old.
Roberts has said that she isn't entirely opposed to helping her daughter return, but that Petrova needs to prove she's changed. The teen believes she has already shown that she has.