Kelly Rutherford opened up to Us Weekly about her emotional reunion with son Hermes, 8, and daughter Helena, 6, amid a years-long custody battle Credit: Araya Diaz/WireImage

At long last! Kelly Rutherford's six years of fighting for custody of her two kids finally paid off over the weekend of July 4, when she and son Hermes, 8, and daughter Helena, 6, were reunited in New York City. And now that she has them back, she doesn't ever want to let them go.

"I am over the moon that my children are back in the United States," the Gossip Girl alum, 46, tells Us Weekly. "I haven't stopped hugging and kissing them."

Rutherford and her ex-husband, Daniel Giersch, have been embroiled in a complicated legal battle since 2009. After their split, the kids lived with Rutherford in the U.S. until 2012, when a judge ruled that it was in the children's "best interests" to live in France with their German father, who had been denied re-entry into the U.S. because of immigration issues.

"Whether he worked those matters out or not, the children were supposed to come home after only a visit with their father abroad," she explains. "Obviously, three years is not a visit — especially in a young child's life when, as every parent knows, each moment is priceless because children grow and change so quickly."

In the years since that initial ruling, the Melrose Place actress has spent more than $1 million to bring her kids back to the states. She even started a petition to get the White House involved. Then, in May, a California judge granted her temporary sole custody for the summer.

"Now that Congress is involved and people in Washington are talking about how this case is an example of a much bigger problem, I'm hopeful my children will be able to stay here, and go to school here and live here just like other American children," Rutherford tells Us.

"I'm blessed to be an American, and I hope this is finally the end to a very long and difficult time period when my children were not allowed to live in their own country," she adds.

"My children were toddlers — only 2 and 5 years old when they left this country. They are now 6 and 9. Those years are gone," she shares, "but I am looking forward to watching them grow and thrive here in the United States — with family and friends who love them very much, and have missed them terribly over these past few years."

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