Ukrainian slams adoptive parents who claim she’s really an adult

A new docu-series has shown the Ukrainian at the centre of an explosive adoption case will hit back at her adoptive parents.

In 2010, Indiana couple Michael and Kristine Barnett adopted Natalia Grace Barnett, who was born with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia – a rare kind of dwarfism that can cause skeletal abnormalities and issues with vision and hearing.

At the time, the parents believed they were taking a six-year-old into their home but the family later said they’d been duped, claiming Natalia was instead a “sociopathic” adult pretending to be a child, and that she wanted to harm them and their biological children.

Authorities went on to charge the Barnetts with neglecting their disabled daughter – all of which is the subject of Investigation Discovery’s The Curious Case of Natalia Grace.

Natalia has now hit back at her adoptive parents in the doco-series after Michael Barnett’s interview with the program came to light. Kristine Barnett has so far not participated in the documentary.

“The things that Michael has said I’ve done is a lie,” she said in a new trailer that recently aired.

Natalia then went on to say that a woman – who is not mentioned by name – was trying to make her seem like this “big crazy person”.

“That’s not true – I want to tell people what really happened because I didn’t get that chance,” Natalia added.

Natalia has maintained that she was six when she was adopted by the Barnetts.

She has rarely spoken to the media about the allegations but when appearing on Dr Phil in November 2019, she insisted that she was not, as host Phil McGraw put it, “a 33-year-old scam artist”.

In previous excerpts of the docu-series, Michael – who separated from his wife in 2014 – recalled adopting Natalia in 2010 from an agency in Florida.

“They said, ‘She has dwarfism. You have 24 hours to sign; otherwise, she is going straight to foster,’” he said.

“We adopted Natalia because we wanted to help somebody who was in danger of never being loved.”

Natalia’s Ukrainian birth certificate indicated she was born on September 4, 2003 – but the day after the Barnetts brought Natalia home, Michael said Kristine was shocked to discover she had pubic hair while giving their daughter a bath.

Michael claimed that in the weeks following, Kristine confronted Natalia after finding bloodstained underwear in her bedroom.

“I have a period, and I’ve been hiding it,” Natalia responded to Kristine, in home video footage shown in the docu-series.

Michael alleged Natalia began exhibiting other disturbing behaviours, such as urinating and defecating in the family car and then smearing the windows with faeces – as well as throwing herself out the door.

Michael claimed his adopted daughter started hoarding knives, and once told him, “I’m going to kill you in your sleep.”

He also accused her of trying to poison his now ex-wife and threatening to stab her older brothers.

Natalia was admitted to a mental health treatment facility, where Michael claimed she was diagnosed as a “sociopath”.

The family were convinced, by this point, that their daughter was an adult, and that her Ukrainian birth certificate had been forged.

In 2013, Michael and Kristine successfully petitioned a court to change Natalia’s birth records, citing that she hadn’t grown in their care, and determining she was born on September 4, 1989 – meaning she was a 23-year-old adult.

They then found an apartment for Natalia and paid the rent. Neighbours who lived in the complex told the docu-series that she would introduce herself as a “little person” in her early 20s.

But authorities became involved when Natalia’s electricity and phone line were cut off due to unpaid bills. After police questioning, Michael and Kristine were accused of leaving their daughter to fend for herself for more than three years, and charged with neglect.

Last year, Michael was found not guilty of all charges. Kristine’s trial was scheduled for February, but the case was ultimately dismissed.

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