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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Lucy Williamson

Natalia Grace who 'posed as child' is seen for first time in years with NEW adopted family

A woman who was accused of pretending to be a child to be adopted by a family is seen for the first time in years - with her new adopted family.

Ukrainian orphan Natalia Grace, who was embroiled in a controversy about her age and identity, is spotted with her new adoptive clan during a Walmart shopping trip.

The case had accused Ukrainian Natalia of being an "adult sociopath" posing as a six-year-old when she was adopted by Michael and Kristine Barnett in 2010.

The Barnetts' made claims that Natalia, in addition to lying about her age, had made multiple attempts to harm them and their biological children, allegations which she denied.

Natalia Grace and her adoptive father Antwan Mans set up a fireworks stall in a Walmart parking lot in Greencastle, Indiana, on June 21, 2023 (The US Sun / News Licensing)
Natalia Grace pictured on the phone outside Walmart (The US Sun / News Licensing)

They alleged that they discovered she was not a child when they observed signs such as the presence of full pubic hair and her menstrual cycle.

The latest pictures show her new adoptive father, 39-year-old pastor Antwon Mans, during a shopping trip at a Greencastle, Indiana supermarket.

She can be seen wearing a black T-shirt with yellow writing, a black skirt, and a matching yellow headband with neon green headphones resting on her ears.

Natalia Grace and her adoptive father Antwan Mans buying toilet roll in Walmart (The US Sun / News Licensing)
Natalia was assumed to be a six-year-old girl when she was adopted as an orphan from Ukraine (The US Sun / News Licensing)

The father and daughter duo were spotted minutes from their home in Crawfordsville, where they live with Antwon's partner Cynthia, 43, and their other children.

Although the unusual scandal started back in 2010, a recently released docu-series titled The Curious Case of Natalia Grace has sparked renewed interest.

The case started in 2010, when Natalia, of Ukrainian origin, was adopted by American couple Michael and Kristine Barnett.

Natalia Grace and her adoptive father Antwan Mans spent two hours inside a fireworks stall, with Antwan coming in and out with cables, before buying toilet roll at Walmart (The US Sun / News Licensing)
Natalia Grace has spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, a rare bone disorder. (The US Sun / News Licensing)

Michael described how their family believed Natalia was a six-year-old child with a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SEDc).

The family were said to be happy to welcome Natalia Into their lives, already having experience with children with special needs, including their son Jacob, who has autism.

Over time, doubts arose for the Barnetts regarding Natalia's claimed age, as they noticed she had physical signs of maturity such as full pubic hair and experiencing her menstrual cycle.

Kristine said in an interview: "Natalia was a woman. She had periods. She had adult teeth. She never grew a single inch, which would happen even with a child with dwarfism."

A jury acquitted Michael Barnett of neglect (Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office)
Charges against Kristine were dropped (Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office)

Ultimately, he, his wife and their sons came to believe: “We are living with a con artist sociopath.", Michael said.

“We don’t know who she is. We don’t know where she’s really from. Who the f*ck is this person?” he added.

These suspicions intensified when they arranged a playdate with another six-year-old girl diagnosed with the same disorder she had, named spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, only to realise that Natalia appeared older than her counterpart.

Natalia Grace Barnett was abandoned by her adoptive parents after being accused of being an adult (Dr Phil)

However, these concerns paled in comparison to the alarming behaviour Natalia allegedly exhibited, as claimed by Michael.

He asserts that she made threats to kill them, recounted instances of waking up with her standing by their bed brandishing a knife, accused her of purposefully soiling herself to upset Jacob, and alleged that she attempted to have their sons involved in accidents and tried to poison Kristine before dragging her into an electric fence.

"She would make statements and draw pictures saying she wanted to kill family members, roll them up in a blanket and put them in the backyard,’ Kristine told DailyMailTV.

Natalia was accused of being a '22-year-old sociopath' (Kristine Barnett)

"She was standing over people in the middle of the night. You couldn't go to sleep. We had to hide all the sharp objects.

"I saw her putting chemicals, bleach, Windex, something like that, in my coffee and I asked her, 'What are you doing?' She said, 'I am trying to poison you''

Following multiple visits to therapists, Michael reportedly received a diagnosis of psychopathy for Natalia.

In 2012, the family pursued legal action and obtained a court order to change Natalia's age from eight to 22 years old, supported by various assessments and analyses.

Michael Barnett shouts in anger in the documentary (Investigation Discovery)

But the difficulty in accurately gauging Natalia's age was also highlighted by her adopted father Michael, who said he too was left uncertain after the hearing.

"At the time that she was re-aged, I knew she was an adult. Did I know it was 18, 22, 35, 150? No,' he said.

Nevertheless, after the Barnetts were no longer legally obligated to provide financial support for Natalia, they rented an apartment for her in close proximity.

However, Natalia's behaviour raised concerns among the neighbours.

Natalia Grace (Investigation Discovery)

Subsequently, the family relocated Natalia to another apartment in Lafayette, Indiana, before eventually moving to Canada for their son's education.

The decision to move Natalia sparked significant controversy, as many criticised the Barnetts for seemingly abandoning a vulnerable individual.

In 2019, the couple faced legal charges of neglecting a dependent, leading to a divided public opinion.

Some supported the Barnetts, swayed by their assertions regarding Natalia's age, while others sympathised with Natalia, perceiving her as a victim of abandonment.

Natalia pictured with Kristine (Investigation Discovery)

Michael Barnett won an acquittal after facing a criminal trial in October. 2022. The case against Kristine – whom the docuseries accuses of abusing Natalia – was dismissed in March, just a few weeks before her trial was scheduled to start.

Kristine and Michael Barnett later went through a bitter divorce, leading to a divide in their versions of events including Michael alleging that his ex-wife used to beat Natalia.

The issue of Natalia’s age is continually called into question. While she was legally 22 when the Barnetts moved her out of their house, Anna Gava – who was confirmed to be Natalia’s biological mother after doing a DNA test – claims this is not the case.

Natalia was spotted for the first time in years since the controversial case (Kristine Barnett)

“She was born on September 4, 2003,” Anna says in the documentary. “She was born at 6.25am in the Maternity Hospital No. 1. She is my biological daughter.”

If this is true, this would mean that Natalia was, in fact, a child when the Barnetts adopted her and left her to live on her own.

"This is one of the most difficult (cases) I've had" said Robert Cooper, a detective with the Lafayette Police Department, near to where the Barnetts moved Natalia, "It's like a Rubik's Cube, it continues to change just when you have it solved."

In a 2019 episode of Dr Phil, Natalia denied being an adult, breaking down as she insisted she never conned the devastated Indiana family.

She appeared alongside her new parents, Cynthia and Anton Mans, who defended her and stated she was a "genuine loving girl" and not an "adult sociopath masquerading as a child."

Meanwhile, the Barnetts maintain they were duped and lied to.

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