Sofia Roberts is sent to hostel in notorious Russian wilderness, begs her mother to take her back
Teenagers can be a real pain in the ass. They do obnoxious things in the naive quest to be cool. In response, parents confiscate their cell phones, impose socially humiliating curfews and declare, "You're grounded!" And in the end, the teens stomp off in a rumpus of angst.
But Sofia Roberts has it worse. Far worse. When the then-15-year-old crossed the line in her posh Virginia town, her parents sent her thousands of miles away...to Siberia.
Yes, that Siberia. The notorious region of Russia where for decades the Soviets would exile political dissidents and other undesirables. The remote and snowbound land known for its dreaded Gulags (now closed). A place so bleak that its name is a catchphrase for exile and misery.
It has been two years since Sofia's parents sent her to Siberia for adolescent shenanigans. She still has no idea when she can go home.
"I love you so much and I miss you," she wrote to her mother recently in a teenager's distinctive bubbly script. "I want to come home. To come back to you. I ask you one more time, please take me back. Please find it in your heart to forgive my mistakes that I made as a pre-teen."
Before being shipped off, Sofia attended high school in the wealthy suburb of Chantilly, Virginia. Though born in Russia, she'd moved to America with her mom Natalia at age 2. She grew up in Virginia with her mom, sister and American-born stepdad. She knew little of her biological father, or of the frigid, industrial city where he lived in Siberia. She spoke no Russian.
Her Virginia family exiled her in what Sofia says was a grand ruse. She says they told her she was taking a brief trip to icy Novosibirsk, Siberia, to meet her biological father.
But after Sofia arrived in Novosibirsk, her mother said she'd changed her mind. Sofia must remain in Siberia until she'd forsaken her disobedience and shamefully headstrong behavior.
In a statement to the Russian press (when Sofia's plight became public), her mother and stepfather claimed Sofia was "uncontrollable." They accused her of truancy, of bringing home boys, running away from home, using drugs and stealing more than $1,000 of their money. Their account, however, is disputed by Sofia's Virginia friends who are anxious for her return.
Soon after moving in with her biological father, Sofia says she discovered he was a heavy drinker (the Russian government classified beer as a food until earlier this year).
In Sofia's own words, published in a distressing Facebook post, "Igor is an ALCOHOLIC. Try to live with an alcoholic and tell me how you like it." She also claims he beat her and rarely fed her meals. "I learnt about him when I was 13 years old," she told a local Siberian paper. "I skyped with him three times, but he doesn't speak English. So really I did not know him, he was a stranger."