Kristine Barnett, 45, and her ex-husband Michael Barnett, 43, were charged with two counts of child neglect in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, earlier this month. The couple are accused of abandoning their adopted daughter at a rented apartment in 2013 and moving to Canada.
Michael claims he and his wife changed the girl’s age to 22 one year before they left her at the apartment, according to court documents.
However, Kristine Barnett claimed in a recent interview with WISH-TV that the girl is not a girl at all, but rather a diagnosed “psychopath and sociopath” who participated in a “scam” adoption.
She also claimed in an interview with a U.K. tabloid that Natalia terrorized the family.
Global News has reached out to Kristine Barnett for further evidence of her claims.
The bizarre case dates back to 2010, when the Barnetts adopted a girl named Natalia Grace, who had been in the foster system for two years since arriving in the United States from Ukraine. A doctor who examined her that year determined she was about eight years old, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Associated Press.
The court document shows she also has a form of dwarfism which prevents her from growing beyond a child’s size.
Hospital records from June 2012 show Natalia Grace was about 11 years old at the time, according to the affidavit obtained by NBC News.
Michael Barnett told a detective earlier this month that he and his wife had Natalia’s age legally changed to 22 in June of 2012. He also claimed that Kristine instructed Natalia to tell anyone who asked that she “looks young but was actually 22.”
The affidavit says the Barnetts left Natalia at an apartment in Lafayette, Ind., in 2013 and moved to Canada, while continuing to pay her rent. The affidavit does not specify how long the girl lived alone at the apartment, or why it took so long for prosecutors to lay charges against the couple in an investigation that started in September 2014. The document also does not say where the Barnetts moved to in Canada.
They filed for divorce in 2014 and the process was completed in 2018, according to court records.
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Kristine Barnett captured public attention in 2013 with Spark, a memoir about raising her son Jacob, who has autism. The boy has done several media interviews over the years, and has a Tedx Talk with more than 9.5 million views on YouTube.
Kristine Barnett’s Facebook page says she lives in Waterloo, Ont.
“I am sick and devastated from the idea of any of these charges and maintain that they are false charges,” Barnett wrote in a Facebook post on Sept. 15.
“I am praying for Natalia who I believe is ill, and I am dismayed by the way our mental health system treats people,” Barnett wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning.
“Natalia is and always has been an adult in the time that I knew her, but that did not stop me from always seeking her best interest.”
She turned herself in last week and posted bond on Sept. 19, according to court records. She is due back in court on Friday morning.
Michael Barnett posted bail on Sept. 18 and is also due back in court Friday morning.
Natalia Grace moved out of Tippecanoe County in 2016, WLFI reported. Her current whereabouts have not been released.
— With files from The Associated Press