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Sofia Petrova stranded in Siberia after mom sent her there on plane for being rebellious

10:53 PM, Oct 22, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Have you ever gotten so angry with your teenager, you wanted to send them to Siberia? Well, a local mother did just that.

"I begged her millions of times. Take me home. I said, 'I want my Mom. I need my Mom. I need my home. I don't have anything here,'" said Sofia, who is stranded in Siberia.

Sofia Petrova was a 15-year-old freshman at Chantilly High School in Virginia when her mother brought her to the airport and told her she was going on a three-week vacation to Siberia to meet her birth father.

"It was almost like a living nightmare," Sofia said.

When Sofia landed, she says her mother changed her story and said she'd be there for a -long- time.

"I think I just started crying. I couldn't even understand what was going on," she said.

Michaela Bennett, Sofia's best friend, says she was devastated.

"We met freshman year. She slept over at my house and to lose her like that," she said.

Born in Russia, Sofia came to the United States at the age of two. Her mother had a student visa. Sofia is now living in Novosibirsk, Siberia-- more than 5,800 miles from Chantilly, Va.

"Who would do that?" said Bennett. "What kind of human would send her daughter to another country and not want her?"

"It's one thing for someone to say such a thing," said another friend, Robert Buttaro. "It's another for someone to actually do it."

Sofia says when she arrived in Siberia, she spoke no Russian and her birth father spoke no English.

"I guess it was a form of punishment," Sofia said. "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. And she sent me here a week after my 15th birthday."

In two lengthy emails, Sofia's mother, Natalia Roberts, and step-father, James - ironically an immigration attorney- described Sofia's behavior as "uncontrollable."

Failing classes at school, stealing more than a thousand dollars from her parents, running away from home, using drugs and bringing boys into the house without permission.

Her step-father wrote:

"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 2:00am."

Sofia's mother added:

"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."

"She never did drugs. She never smoked. Nothing. She may drink a little, but all teenagers do that," Bennett said.

Sofia's friends in Virginia are now scrambling to try to bring her back to the U.S. before she turns 18 in March. Sofia says the Embassy in Moscow told her the chances of getting a visa will diminish when she becomes an adult.

"Her mom said three weeks, and then she said a month, then next Christmas, then 2 ½ years later, she's still there," Bennett said.

Bennett's mother said, "Just to send a child to a different country where she doesn't know the language, she doesn't know anybody and just shipped her off. It just doesn't make sense to me."

"Food was a big problem. There was hardly ever any food in the kitchen. I always ate at school, pretty much once a day," Sofia said.

After several tumultuous months living with her birth father, Sofia went to a children's center. Plunged into a deep depression, she says she tried to kill herself.

"She told me that her Dad is an alcoholic and beats her sometimes," Bennett said.

Today, at 17, Sofia is on her own, living in the Siberian hotel where she works.

"Financially, I support myself. 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," Sofia said.

In a series of heartbreaking emails we obtained, one of Sofia's teachers and a Mormon missionary couple from Utah corroborate Sofia's story of poor conditions at her birth father's home.

"And to be tricked by her own birth mother. For her birth mother, I want to say 'what in the world are you doing?" Buttaro said. "Fix the situation. Fix it with your daughter. Do what you have to do."

"I love her. She's my Mom, but this is my life. And right now, I don't feel like I have any control over it.," Sofia said.

She added, "I hope that she understands I'm not doing this to make her look bad. I'm doing this just because I don't have any other option."

"She's like a sister to me and I just want her home," Bennett said.

"*I would just be happy to be on American soil," Sofia said.

Sofia's parents have not completely ruled out helping her return to the U.S. They told us she needs to recognize her mistakes and show them that her behavior has improved. Sofia told WUSA9 reporter Andrea McCarren she believes she has already demonstrated that.

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