A Family Adopts a 6-Year-Old Orphan, Only to Discover She Was an Adult Dwarf

11 months ago

At the outset, convinced that they had embraced a six-year-old orphan into their family, Michael and Kristine Barnett, an Indiana couple, found themselves increasingly doubtful. The family’s tumultuous saga commenced four years after the adoption, as the couple began to assert that their daughter was not who she purported to be. Instead, they suspected that she might be an adult dwarf pretending to be a child.

The harrowing ordeal endured by the family unfolds in The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, a documentary that recently premiered on Investigation Discovery (ID). In the opening sequence, emotions run high as Michael Barnett tearfully expresses, “She won’t tell us the truth of who she is — we are living with a con artist.”

In the documentary, Michael reminisces about their family’s heartfelt decision to adopt an orphan from a center in Florida on April 26, 2010, a time when life appeared idyllic. They joyfully raised their three sons, relishing financial stability with a substantial savings account and a newly built home.

“Early 2010, we were blessed with many things. By the time 2014 came around, I have 37 cents in my bank account, I have no wife, I have no children, I have no home, and no job. If Natalia never entered our lives, I never get divorced,” Michael Michael emotionally reveals.

Doubts about Natalia’s true age emerged when the couple discovered that she had been hiding her menstrual cycle from them for an extended period. Moreover, during one encounter, Natalia met another child who was genuinely six years old but had a rare bone disorder. The stark difference in age became undeniable as she towered over her playmate, exhibiting advanced bone structure and vocabulary.

According to Michael, Natalia displayed various indicators suggesting she was not a child but an adult. These signs included having menstrual periods and adult teeth. Additionally, he noticed that she did not experience any growth, which would typically occur even in children with dwarfism.

Moreover, medical professionals reportedly confirmed that Natalia was grappling with a severe psychological disorder typically diagnosed in adults. These observations bolstered the conviction that Natalia’s age had been misrepresented, adding to the intricate circumstances surrounding her true identity.

During the investigation, Natalia revealed that she had been informed of her revised birthdate at her orphanage before she moved to the United States.

“(The officer) informs us he believes that her birth certificate is all bogus,” Michael disclosed. According to a document related to her migration process, it was purportedly discovered that Natalia had exhibited no growth over four years, a fact that Michael contends would be highly improbable for a six-year-old, even taking into account her dwarfism condition.

The accumulation of these alarming indicators compelled the family to seek legal assistance. In 2012, they initiated a petition in probate court, and after careful consideration, the judge officially amended her birth date on her birth document from 2003 to 1989.

After the successful approval of their petition, the couple made the decision to move Natalia to an apartment in Lafayette, which was three counties away from their previous residence, as they prepared for their relocation to Canada. Natalia revealed that her diet mostly consisted of peanut butter, jelly sandwiches, and noodles. She also explained that she had limited dexterity in her hands and arms, making it challenging for her to open canned food.

Around one year after the relocation, Natalia found herself compelled to vacate the apartment due to numerous complaints about her disruptive behavior. Neighbors recalled witnessing her struggles in self-care and shared anecdotes in the documentary, recounting instances of observing her donning dirty clothes and emitting an unpleasant body odor. Furthermore, they characterized her as a constant nuisance to the community, as she would casually enter people’s homes without any invitation.

Recently, the couple was cleared of neglect charges for leaving their adopted daughter behind, despite their firm assertion that Natalia had been legally recognized as an adult woman following the court-ordered change in her birthdate.

Michael stated that the family relocated from Indiana to Canada to support their 15-year-old son’s college education. However, some critics of the family argue that their decision to move was primarily driven by a desire to rid themselves of Natalia. While the child neglect charges related to Natalia’s age were dropped due to the legal age change, additional neglect charges were still applicable because of her dwarfism, which made her dependent on the care of the couple.

In a 2019 installment of the Dr. Phil show, Natalia, visibly distressed, adamantly rejected claims of being an adult and refuted accusations of deceiving the Barnett family. Throughout the episode, she maintained her innocence and conveyed the emotional turmoil caused by the heartbreaking circumstances.

By her side were Natalia’s new parents, unwavering in their support as they defended her vehemently. They emphasized that Natalia was genuinely affectionate and caring, dispelling the notion of her being an adult sociopath masquerading as a child. Their presence aimed to challenge the allegations against Natalia and offer an alternative perspective on her true character.

Thankfully, most adoption stories have happy outcomes for both the child and the parents involved. One heartwarming example is that of a young girl with Down syndrome who faced rejection from 20 different families. However, her life took a positive turn when she was finally adopted by a single gay dad.

Preview photo credit Inside Edition / YouTube


Get notifications
Lucky you! This thread is empty,
which means you've got dibs on the first comment.
Go for it!

Related Reads