Parents Charged with Abandonment Say Adopted Daughter Is Actually Adult Con Artist
In response to charges that she and her ex-husband abandoned their adopted daughter, an Indiana woman claims instead that the supposed child was actually an adult who was vicious and tried to harm her.
Michael and Kristine Barnett face two charges of neglect of a dependent. The issue centers around a Ukrainian girl they adopted in 2010 who the couple is accused of abandoning in Lafayette, Indiana, in 2013, according to the Louisville Journal and Courier.
The girl, who suffers from dwarfism, was 8 years old when she was adopted in 2010, according to court records. The couple in 2012 petitioned a court to change her age to 22, which was granted.
Michael Barnett, 43, however, has said that the girl was still a minor at the time when the couple left her and went to Canada, according to The Washington Post.
But Kristine Barnett, 45, tells a very different story. She claims that the child terrorized the family, much like the plot of the movie “Orphan,” according to The Daily Mail.
In an interview with Daily Mail, Kristine Barnett says the adoption was a “scam,” and the girl is actually an adult who has made a career out of fooling people into thinking she’s a young girl. https://t.co/bNIRCRlntD
— WPMT FOX43 (@fox43) September 24, 2019
“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. 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.’”
Barnett said there is no doubt in her mind that her adopted daughter was actually an adult, and not aged six as the couple had been led to believe when they adopted her.
“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. The doctors all confirmed she was suffering a severe psychological illness only diagnosed in adults,” she said.
“I was giving her a bath and I noticed that she had full pubic hair. I was so shocked. I had just been told she was a 6-year-old and it was very apparent she wasn’t,” she said.
Barnett said that it was the girl’s behavior, not her age, that caused the problems they experienced. She claimed that Natalia eventually smeared bodily fluid on walls, made death threats and heard voices. She was later confined to a psychiatric facility.
Upon her discharge, they arranged for Natalia to have an apartment.
“I said I’ve been taking care of you here as an adult, I will do one more year of financial aid, the exact same thing I am doing for all of my children. I co-signed the lease and paid for the rent upfront for a year. I did everything you would do when you send your child off to college, I helped her with groceries and bought furniture at Target for her,” she said.
“I was optimistic, she had a concrete plan for her life. She had food stamps. She had Social Security income for the rest of her things. She had demonstrated she was able to live,” she said..”
But in 2014, a year after the couple moved to Canada, Natalia told police she had been abandoned by the couple. It was not clear why there was a five-year gap between that allegation and the recent arrest of the Barnetts.
The Daily Mail account said that in 2016, another couple sought to become the girl’s guardians, but that Kristine Barnett and her then-husband went to court to block that on the grounds that Natalia was an adult.
Kristine Barnett, who has authored a book about raising children, said she has done nothing wrong.
“I have been cooperative the whole time. I have been truthful with people the whole time. I am being charged by the state of Indiana for crimes against a child when the state of Indiana has determined multiple times that Natalia was an adult,” she said.
“From day one this was a mission of love. But when you bring a child into your home, you expect them to be a child. To be accused of this is a unconscionable to me. It’s just horrifying.”
The Barnetts had previously been hailed for the accomplishments of the son, Jake, who was diagnosed with autism at age 2 but was able to function academically at a genius level, with his first academic paper published at the age of 12.
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