It was possibly one of the oddest stories to have hit the news.

Natalia Grace Barnett, a small child with a rare bone-growth disease, was adopted from Ukraine by a family who mistook her for a six-year-old. Her adoptive parents later claimed she was a “sociopathic” adult masquerading as a youngster.

Natalia, according to Michael and Kristine Barnett of Indianapolis, intended to hurt them and their biological children. Meanwhile, the parents were charged with abandoning their crippled daughter.

The complicated story is told in the new Investigation Discovery docuseries “The Curious Case of Natalia Grace.” The filmmakers attempted to uncover the truth about the affair. During lengthy interviews, Michael Barnett defended himself. Kristine Barnett and Natalia elected not to share their perspectives.

According to Michael Barnett, the family had no cause to assume Natalia was an adult.
Michael Barnett, who is now divorced from Kristine, said in the series that the family was “living with a con artist and a psychopath.”

Natalia was adopted by the Barnetts from a Florida adoption agency in 2010. In the film, Barnett stated that they were given a day to determine whether to do so.

“‘She has dwarfism,’ they stated. You have 24 hours to sign or she will be placed in foster care,'” he added.

“We adopted Natalia because we wanted to help somebody who was in danger of never being loved,” Barnett explained, adding that her Ukrainian birth certificate stated she was born on September 4, 2003.

He stated that they had no cause to suspect she was not a 6-year-old orphan. She suffered from spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia. Dwarfism is a rare condition that can result in bone deformities as well as eyesight and hearing problems. Natalia was just about 3 feet tall.

Kristine gave Natalia a bath the day following the adoption, according to Barnett in the video. He claimed that his ex-wife was taken aback when she saw that their “brand-new” child had pubic hair.

He claimed that Kristine confronted Natalia soon after because she discovered blood-stained panties in her bedroom. Natalia responded in a home video aired in the series, “I have a period, and I’ve been hiding it.”

Natalia, according to Barnett, demonstrated unsettling behaviour such as peeing and defecating in the car and putting excrement on the windows. In public, she’d “throw herself” out the passenger door for attention, he claimed.

“The idea was to make her look like a poor, helpless little girl,” he explained.

In the documentary, he claims she began hoarding blades and allegedly informed him, “I’m going to kill you in your sleep.” She also appeared at the foot of their bed with a knife in her hand, according to the father.

Natalia’s Ukrainian birth certificate was faked, according to the Barnetts.

Natalia was also accused of attempting to poison Kristine by pouring cleaning chemicals into her coffee, forcing her against an electric fence, and threatening to stab her elder brothers, according to Barnett.

“She was doing everything she could to cause hurt, harm, or mental distress to the family,” said Barnett.

Natalia’s elder brother, Jacob Barnett, stated in the series that he “didn’t feel safe around Natalia.” He said, “I was just scared.”

Natalia spent time in a state mental hospital, where a therapist, according to Michael Barnett, labeled her as a “sociopath.” According to a number of hospital employees who spoke to the documentary on the condition of anonymity, she was released after making “inappropriate” sexual remarks to male patients. The Barnetts were certain that their daughter was an adult by this point. They claimed that her Ukrainian birth certificate was forged.

The parents successfully petitioned a court to amend Natalia’s birth records the same year, stating that she had not grown in their care. It discovered she was born on September 4, 1989, 14 years earlier than she stated. According to the court order, she was a 23-year-old adult.

Natalia’s parents got her an apartment and paid her rent. Natalia would identify herself as a “little person” in her early 20s, according to neighbors at the apartment complex. They claimed to have befriended her. However, they stated that they had lost trust. Sue McCallan, Toby and Melanie Miles, Natalia’s closest neighbors, stated she’d show up uninvited in their homes. They were particularly concerned about how she appeared to behave “sexually” among individuals, including children.

Toby Miles stated that he was increasingly afraid of Natalia when she informed him “that she had tried to kill her mom.” The documentary played a tape of a 911 call she made at the time.

“I’m stalking one of my neighbors,” Natalia explained to the operator, before adding, “I don’t want to harm them.”

When Natalia’s lease expired, the Barnetts, who were soon to divorce, relocated to Canada.

The Barnetts were charged by police of abandoning their dependent Natalia and leaving her to fend for herself.

They relocated her to a run-down section of Lafayette, Indiana. Natalia’s neighbor Kyra Weaver revealed in the video that Natalia struggled to climb the steps to her flat and couldn’t reach the kitchen counter or a washing machine.

“I felt like she had been thrown to the wolves,” Weaver explained.

Natalia, according to her neighbors, could barely cook for herself and lived on takeout pizza and quick noodles. According to a neighbor, she was on food stamps.

Natalia’s electricity and phone line were disconnected after her bills were not paid, prompting authorities to intervene. She moved in with a neighbor’s family, Cynthia Mans, and was assisted by a social worker who coordinated with the police. Detectives questioned the Barnetts, accusing them of abandoning Natalia for more than three years.

In 2019, the Barnetts, who presented conflicting accounts of what transpired, were charged with negligence. Because of the court-ordered change in Natalia’s age in 2012 and the statute of limitations, prosecutors dropped the original accusations of child maltreatment. Michael Barnett, on the other hand, was charged with neglect of a dependent. The authorities claimed that even if Natalia had been an adult at the time she was abandoned, her dwarfism rendered her dependent on her parent

Natalia appeared on Dr. Phil and claimed that she was adopted when she was six years old.

A judge barred Natalia’s age from being discussed in front of the jury. In the fall of 2022, Michael Barnett was declared not guilty on all charges. The trial of Kristine Barnett was slated for February of this year, however the case was dismissed. Nonetheless, Michael Barnett blasted his ex-wife in the documentary, declaring, “Kristine is a walking epitome of evil.”

Natalia claimed she was six years old when she was adopted. In November 2019, she appeared on the “Dr. Phil” show.

“They say you scammed them, that you lied about your age and came over here and terrorized them,” Natalia was informed of the Barnetts by the host, Phil McGraw.

She insisted on being born in 2003, not 1989.

During the conversation, McGraw stated, “You say you’re 16.” “Are you a 30-year-old scam artist?” he inquired.

“No,” Natalia said.

Natalia’s claims were never proven. She is now 33 years old, at least in the eyes of the law. Whatever the situation, Michael Barnett stated in the documentary that he had compassion for Natalia, despite the fact that she testified against him in court. He claimed they exchanged a quiet “wave” when the jury delivered its verdict.

“I looked her directly in the eyes,” Barnett says in the series, adding, “and I said to her, ‘This is hard.'” ‘I apologize.'”


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