Teenagers can be a handful to deal with, but one family resorted to desperate measures to control their rebellious offspring.
Sofia Petrova was 15 years old when her mother, Natalia Roberts, dropped her off at the airport. She thought she was going on a three-week vacation to Siberia to visit her birth father, WUSA-TV said. When she landed in Siberia, her mother reportedly told her she would be staying there indefinitely.
More than two years later, she’s still living in the city of Novosibirsk.
Roberts and her husband, James, said they made the decision to ship Petrova off to Siberia after her rebellious behavior got out of control. She reportedly stole money from her parents, used drugs and ran away from home.
"The behavior was becoming worse and we saw no solution,” her stepfather wrote in an email to WUSA. “Worse, it was affecting the other children in the house, especially the outbursts that would last until 2 a.m."
Petrova was born in Russia, but moved to the United States with her mother at the age of two. She didn’t speak Russian when she first arrived, and her birth father doesn’t speak any English.
"Sending Sofia to her father, grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousin was not an easy choice that we had to make, but it was the right choice," Petrova’s mother wrote in a separate email.
According to Michaela Bennett, Petrova’s best friend back in Virginia, things only got worse when she began living in Siberia. "She told me that her dad is an alcoholic and beats her sometimes," Bennett told WUSA.
Petrova says there is never enough food at her father’s house. "Food was a big problem. There was hardly ever any food in the kitchen. I always ate at school, pretty much once a day," she said.
“I guess it was a form of punishment, but after having two year[s] 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. “And she sent me here a week after my 15th birthday.”
Petrova also told WUSA she tried to kill herself after living with her father for several months. She now lives and works in a Siberian hotel. "Financially, I support myself,” she said. “I work 60 hours a week. I pay for my school tuition right now, for online, and I don't see anything for the future.”
Bennett disputes the notion that Petrova’s behavior was out of control while living in the U.S. “She never did drugs,” she said. “She never smoked. Nothing. She may drink a little, but all teenagers do that.”
As WUSA reports, Petrova’s friends are trying to get her back into the U.S. before she turns 18 next March. Petrova says the U.S. Embassy in Moscow told her it would be much more difficult to obtain a visa when she becomes an adult.
“I hope that [my mother] understands I'm not doing this to make her look bad,” Petrova said. “I'm doing this just because I don't have any other option."
Petrova’s parents told WUSA she needs to admit her mistakes before they’ll help her get back into the country.