A family of Americans adopted a girl from Ukraine, but she turned out to be an adult with a rare disease and tried to kill her adoptive parents
Natalia Grace, an orphan from Ukraine, was adopted by Christine and Michael Barnett in 2010. The adoptive parents thought they had adopted a 6-year-old child. Now they say that Natalia was an adult "sociopath" with dwarfism, reports People.
Michael and Christine Barnett and their family were at a dairy farm in Indiana to celebrate the birthday of one of their sons. The family was walking near the electric fence on the site, but their adopted daughter Natalia Grace said she needed to stop.
Kristin stayed behind with Natalia, while Michael and their three sons continued to walk forward.
Soon Barnett and his sons heard the sound of a siren.
“The second I heard the sirens, I thought, Christina is dead,” Barnett said. “Natalia tried to push Christina into the fence.”
At the dairy farm, according to Barnett, Natalia screamed loudly: "You f**k, f**k, I'll kill you ... You'll die."
Barnett said that he and his wife wanted Natalya to be arrested, but instead law enforcement took her to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation.
“She told officers to her face that she tried to kill her foster mother,” Barnett said. “But the police thought that Natalia’s small age didn’t match the threat: “Hey, it’s a little girl, she’s not really trying to kill anyone.” She is ill. Instead, we're going to take her to the hospital."
The story of Natalia, an orphan from Ukraine adopted by the Barnetts, made headlines around the world.
In 2008, Natasha moved from Ukraine to the United States. First, she was adopted by a family from Florida, who abandoned Natasha after 2 years. There are almost no details about this period of her life, but court documents mention that the guardians could not cope with the child. After that, the adoption agency began to look for a new family for the girl. The Barnetts were worthy parents and did not give up even in those cases when doctors dropped their hands.
The strange story of the unsuccessful adoption of Natalia is presented in the new documentary series ID The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, which aired three nights in a row starting Monday, May 29th.
This documentary series offers exclusive access to material and exclusive coverage of this mysterious story.
The foster parents discovered that the orphan was deliberately hiding the obvious signs of puberty. This made them anxious.
“It became obvious that the patient was older than she spoke,” said Andrew McLaren, a doctor who monitored Natasha's health from 2010 to 2012.
McLaren writes that Natasha admitted that she was over 18 years old. By that time, he was inclined to believe that she was at least 22. The social worker who dealt with the orphan thought the same. Both suspected that they had encountered an adult fraudster who, in addition, suffers from mental illness.
“Natalia built her life on maintaining the legend of her young age,” McLaren said in a letter. “She fooled people over and over again who had the best of intentions. Including their former and current guardians, doctors and adoptive parents.”
Puberty is not the most reliable criterion, but there are others. First, milk teeth. The first permanent teeth begin to change from the age of six, and by the age of 13, adolescents, as a rule, do not have a single deciduous tooth. Four wisdom teeth usually appear after 18 years. Secondly, bone age. To determine it, X-rays of the hand and wrist are taken. In young children, cartilaginous growth zones, the so-called epiphyseal plates, are noticeable on them. Each year, the cartilage becomes thinner until it finally disappears. According to their thickness and other features, specialists are able to determine the age of the child with good accuracy.
The girl was examined twice at the Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. In 2010, the doctor concluded that Natasha was about eight years old. Measurement of bone age in the 2012 year showed that it is one year different from that indicated in the documents. This did not reassure the adoptive parents. They believed that experts do not take into account the disease that the girl suffers. Since spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia affects bone development, Natasha’s bone age could lag significantly behind the true one.
Michael and Kristin were seriously afraid that they had adopted a monster from whom nothing good could be expected. The Barnetts claimed that Natalia was trying to harm them and their biological children. The couple claimed that not only did Natalia try to electrocute Christine, she also tried to poison Christine's coffee and placed buttons on the stairs face up so they could step on them.
In the end, after 2 years, the family turned to specialists, who found out that Natalya was no longer a child, but an adult girl (born in 1989), suffering from congenital spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, as well as a mental disorder. In 2012, the girl was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where she was diagnosed with a psychopathic personality disorder and recognized as a sociopath.
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Based on this conclusion, the Barnetts achieved a change in the documents of Natalya's age (from 11 years old to 22 years old), and after some time they rented an apartment for her, helped her get a social security number, gave coupons for buying food, and left for Canada to help her own son with education. She had never seen the Barnetts since. They did not come, did not call, and did not even send her money.
According to the documents, Natasha was 23 years old, so she could no longer study at a regular school. Since September, she has been going to a school for adults who want to have a secondary education. Her neighbor told reporters that the orphan made friends with people from a nearby apartment building. She had no money, so she had to rely on their help. Nine months later, Natasha was evicted from her apartment for non-payment.
“I have no idea where she went later,” says a neighbor. “I never saw her again. She stopped attending classes and we didn’t know what happened to her. ”
In September 2014, the school principal reported the student’s disappearance to the county sheriff’s office. An orphan was quickly found, interrogated, and initiated a case of neglect of parental responsibilities - this is what the story of the abandoned adopted daughter looked from the point of view of the police.
Court documents do not reveal what Natasha did for the next five years. It is known that in February 2016 she left Lafayette, and two weeks later another couple filed a petition for adoption. In January 2018, Natasha's potential guardians changed their minds and withdrew the petition.
How old Natasha really is is still not clear.
The Barnetts, who later divorced, were accused of neglecting a dependent. The prosecutor's office could not accuse the couple of neglecting the child due to the change in Natalia's age by court order.
Natalia testified during Michael's trial, stating that she did not want to live in Lafayette.
“I wanted to be with the Barnetts,” she said. “I wanted to live with them.”
According to the Associated Press, Michael was found not guilty on three counts of neglect of parental responsibility.
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Almost all of the information about Natasha's behavior during childhood, the results of medical examinations and hospitalization in a psychiatric clinic comes from Christine Barnett and may well be a lie. Law enforcement agencies, trying to understand this story since 2014, adhered to a different version. The investigation believed that the family had cheated on the official age of the nine-year-old girl in order to get rid of her.
This was confirmed by the testimony of Michael Barnett. Under interrogation by the police, he admitted that he did not believe that Natasha was actually older. According to Michael, Christine herself taught the girl to say that she was 22 years old, and she looked younger than her years. He later retracted these statements.
In March, the charges against Christina were dropped. She insisted that her family was the victim of a scam, and Natasha was of age from the first day they met.
In addition to the adopted Ukrainian, the Barnetts have a son, Jacob Barnett, who was diagnosed with autism in the 2 of the year. When the doctors said that he would never be able to speak or have normal social connections, Christine began to teach him at home. By 12, the boy was recognized as a genius in physics. Christine published a memoir, Spark: The Maternal History of the Education of a Genius Autistic. Critics wrote that "Barnett not only heroically fights on behalf of Jake, but also overcomes all other obstacles that prevent her and her family from living."
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