When actress Kelly Rutherford‘s children Hermes, 9, and Helena, 7, arrive at their mom’s home in New York City, they usually change straight into their pajamas, jump into their mom’s bed — with her two bunny rabbits and two kittens! — smother her with hugs and then beg her to cook a delicious meal. “They’re like little monkeys!” says Kelly with a laugh. “All they want to do is cuddle up and talk about how much we love each other. Even though it’s incredibly hard to be separated, this situation has given us a whole new level of connection. They know we’re going through this together.”
What Kelly is referring to is her much-publicized custody battle with her ex-husband, a German businessman. Four years ago, the case took a shocking turn when his U.S. visa was revoked. Kelly, who wants her children to have a close relationship with their father, offered to fly with them to France every school holiday and summer breaks until his visa had been restored. But the kids — who had lived primarily with Kelly since birth, were attending preschool in New York and had never spent more than two consecutive nights away from her — were ordered to leave the U.S. and live in France.