New information from experts and attorneys disputes Kristine Barnett's claims that she abandoned her eight-year-old adopted daughter because she was actually an adult who had repeatedly tried to kill her and her ex-husband, Michael Barnett.
The couple was arrested on charges of abandoning their adopted daughter, a Ukranian girl named Natalia Grace, who suffers from a bone growth disorder called spondyloepimetaphyseal dysplasia, an inherited disorder of bone growth that results in dwarfism, skeletal abnormalities, and vision problems. The Barnetts adopted Natalia in 2010 and abandoned her in 2013. They told police that the girl was a 22-year-old sociopath who wanted to kill them and their biological children.
There are many inconsistencies in Kristine’s story. The Barnetts, residents of Indiana at the time, adopted Natalia Grace in 2010 when she was six years old. The adoption process, which reportedly took just 24 hours, was formalized in Florida. According to Kristine, the first few months were uneventful but soon she began to have doubts about the girl’s age after discovering she had pubic her and was menstruating. These coincidentally are both symptoms of spondyloepimetaphyseal dysplasia.
In 2012, the Barnetts subjected Natalia Grace to a medical examination, which they say determined the girl’s age to be about 11. Despite the medical evidence, however, they somehow managed to change her legal age to 22. A year later, the family moved to Canada so one of the couple’s biological children coule attend the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics, which had awarded him a scholarship. Conveniently, the couple left their adopted daughter behind in a rented apartment, where she lived alone.
Kristine Barnett makes her first appearance in a Tippecanoe County Court. She’s accused of abandoning her adopted daughter, changing girl’s age & then leaving for Canada.— Trevor Peters (@TrevorPetersTV) September 27, 2019
She says “no comment” to my question about if her daughter every tried to physically harm her @WLFI pic.twitter.com/amrJLgtxAW
Once in Canada, Michael and Kristine separated and stopped paying Natalia’s rent, which resulted in her being evicted. The authorities were alerted when school officials notified the police that Natalia had stopped going to class. In 2016, Natalia was reportedly under the care Cynthia and Antwon Mans, a couple that had unsuccesfully applied for guardianship.
In the past week, Michael has been reportedly collaborating with the authorities investigating this case and has stated that Natalia was a girl when the couple changed her age in 2012. He also added that Kristine had warned her to tell everyone that her age was 22 years if asked.
By Kristine’s logic, Natalia would now be 30 years old, yet her Ukrainian birth records state that she was born in 2003, according to a guardianship case filed in Tippecanoe Circuit Court in March 2016. Attorneys Michael Troemel and Ladona Sorenson, who handled the Natalia’s guardianship case filed in Tippecanoe County by Cynthia and Antwon, tried to have her legal age reverted.
“I do not believe her to be an adult at the time I represented her,” said Sorenson, appointed by Tippecanoe Circuit Court to be the girl's guardian ad litem — a court-appointed attorney to represent the interest of a minor who is a party to a lawsuit.
Michael and Kristine Barnett's adoptive daughter, whom the couple is accused of abandoning, is either 30 or 16. https://t.co/Ze0xw1sVFB— Journal & Courier (@jconline) September 26, 2019
“The most egregious part of it is that this child was turned into an adult without any representation, without any due process safeguards being instituted by that court,” Troemel said Thursday morning. “The Barnetts basically filed an ex parte petition, and this kid was not represented. And this is what really sticks in my craw. This kid’s sitting out there, and her parents say, ‘Well, we’re going to turn you into an adult.’”
Kristine claims that the adoption agency knew that the girl was an adult but scammed the couple into believing she was a six-year-old child. However, when Troemel challenged the age change for the girl in court, Michael Barnett said nothing about the adoption being a scam.
“My recollection of it is that (Michael) Barnetts defense to that petition was not that it was a scam," Troemel said, "but that there was scientific evidence to back this up. That’s what their position was.”
Troemel also questions why the Department of Children Services did not intervene, considering authorities had known about Natalia since September 2014, when she told sheriff's deputies that the she had been abandoned by the Barnetts. "DCS wouldn’t touch it because they were going honor that order from Indianapolis that said the kid is now an adult,” Troemel said prosecutors told him.
Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington has charged Michael and Kristine Barnett with two counts of neglect of a dependent. The charge was filed after Michael told investigators that the couple knew the girl was not an adult when they left her in Lafayette, according the prosecutor's probable cause affidavit.