Natalia Grace Barnett documentary: what happened in ID series The Curious Case - who was alleged child orphan?

An American family adopted a Ukrainian child orphan in 2010 - but later claimed she was an ‘adult sociopath masquerading as a child'

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Michael and Kristine Barnett, from Indianapolis, adopted six year old Ukrainian orphan Natalia Grace in 2010, but the couple soon became convinced that she was not all she seemed.

The Barnetts claimed that they were terrorised by Natalia, and that she intended to hurt them and their own biological children. Michael and Kristine are now divorced, and both were left traumatised by their experience with Natalia.

Their bizarre ordeal is the subject of a new three-part true crimedocumentary series, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace.   

The series explores how Michael and Kristine took Natalia in before learning of her alleged true identity, and then found their lives turned upside down and their family and freedom come under threat. This is the astounding true story of Natalia Grace.

Natalia Grace posed as a child but was actually an adult with dwarfismNatalia Grace posed as a child but was actually an adult with dwarfism
Natalia Grace posed as a child but was actually an adult with dwarfism

Who was Natalia Grace Barnett?

Despite claiming to be a six year old orphan, Natalia Grace, a dwarf, was re-aged by a judge in 2012 who found her to be a 22 year old woman who had posed as a child.

The Barnetts said that whilst living with them, Natalia had threatened to stab their children, Michael claimed that she tried to poison his Kristine, and their son Jake revealed that he didn’t feel safe around her.

Michael and Kristine soon became suspicious that Natalia was merely posing as a child when she became violent - they also said that she didn’t grow in the years she stayed with them, which even for a child with dwarfism would not be the case.

After successfully petitioning to have Natalia’s birth date changed in 2012, the Barnetts set her up with an apartment in Indiana and left her there whilst they moved on to Canada in 2013 where Jake was to start college. 

The parents were still charged with neglect of a child in Indiana and fought the charges - the charges against them were dropped in 2022 and early 2023 because of Natalia’s true age and the statute of limitations.

In 2019, Natalia and her new adoptive parents appeared on an episode of Dr. Phil where she denied being an adult. However, the Barnetts said that she had periods, adult teeth, and was diagnosed by doctors with a mental health condition that is usually only present in adults.

Michael Barnett claims Natalia Grace terrorised him and his familyMichael Barnett claims Natalia Grace terrorised him and his family
Michael Barnett claims Natalia Grace terrorised him and his family

What happened to Natalia Grace Barnett?

Natalia was taken in by Antwon and Cynthia Mans, an Indiana couple, after the Barnetts left the US. The Mans knew of the allegations of abuse levelled at Natalia but they did not believe them, and speaking on Dr. Phil in 2019 explained that that was not their experience of her.

They applied to become Natalia’s legal guardian in 2016 but later withdrew the application when her birth date was changed from 2003 to 1989. 

In 2019 Anna Volodymyrivna Gava, a Ukrainian woman came forward claiming to be Natalia’s birth mother and alleging that the Barnetts lied about her age - however, Gava’s relationship to Natalia is yet to be confirmed.

Natalia is reportedly living in Indiana and keeps a low profile - she is not believed to be active on social media. She testified at Michael’s trial in October 2022 where she stated that she had wanted to live with the Barnetts. Natalia has not been charged with any crimes.

On 22 May this year, a Tippecanoe County Prosecutor shared evidence, most of which was not seen by jurors, with an Indiana newspaper, which he believes proves that Natalia was born in 2003.

How to watch The Curious Case of Natalia Grace in the UK

The Curious Case of Natalia Grace began airing on Investigation Discovery in the US on Monday 29 May - the service is not currently available in the UK. However, you can access Investigation Discovery using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Use of a VPN is legal in the UK and the US, but it must be used within legal guidelines. Using a VPN may breach the user guidelines of the site you are trying to access, so check the user agreement beforehand.

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