Though I know this story has ‘blown-up’ in recent weeks, I’m not too sure how far this story has reached. It’s certainly been captivating a lot of my attention, though. Anyone who talks about it, anyone who shares their perspective, I need to read it, watch it or hear it.
I apologize in advance if any of the information in the following paragraphs conflicts itself. This story has been so hard to track and has had so much speculation and unknown information surrounding it that I’ve had a really hard time keeping track. But it’s so wild and crazy that I really just need/want to share.
Natalia Barnett is a Ukrainian girl with a rare form of dwarfism who was brought to the United States in 2008, when she was believed to be five years old. Prior to coming to the United States she had lived the entirety of her life in an orphanage in the Ukraine. She was adopted by a family who had the promise of helping her with medical treatments and surgeries needed (due to her dwarfism) and sent into the foster system less than two years later with no explanation as to why.
Insert Kristine and Michael Barnett. The couple, who at the time already had three boys, were looking to complete their family and decided they could adopt Natalia (to have the daughter they’d always wanted) and provide her a good life, affording the medical treatments and surgeries required to do that. They adopted Natalia in 2010 at the age of what they believed to be 6, turning 7 years old.
In 2010, as the adoption was being processed, Michael and Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob was gaining local notoriety for his intelligence. He is an autistic boy who is highly, highly, highly intelligent (boy genius status). The Barnett’s say that he’s been mastering college level math and science classes since the age of eight. This notoriety shone a bright light on Michael and Kristine, promoting them in the media as ‘Parenting Goals’ so to speak. Kristine even going so far as to writing a memoir about parenting.
From 2010 to 2013 Natalia lived with the Barnett family and, during this time was taken to see several doctors and doctors and specialists with respect to her condition. Over this period she was institutionalized for brief stints relating to mental health issues that Psychiatrists had diagnosed as Radical Attachment Disorders likely stemming from living the first five years of her life in an orphanage in the Ukraine.
During this time Kristine Barnett claimed to see ‘signs’ from Natalia that lead her to believe the girl was not the age she was claiming to be and that she was an adult, using her dwarfism, to masquerade as a child and take advantage of this family.
Kristine took Natalia to a specialist to have her bone density measured as a means to garner a better estimation of her age, but due to the girls rare form of dawrfism, it’s difficult to judge age like one would with a normal human being who has normal bone density. Due to her condition, the doctor stated she could be anywhere from 8-14 years old.
Kristine, carrying on the narrative that this young girl was older than she said was, continued noting ‘signs’ that Natalia was lying. She said that she gave the young girl a bath and noted she had pubic hair, something a seven year old shouldn’t have. She said that she was speaking with a vocabulary higher than that of a young child. She said that she founded bloody clothes of Natalia’s in the garbage can, as though Natalia had been having her period and trying to hide it from the Barnett’s to try and hide her age to continue using her dwarfism to masquerade as a small child.
(Please note that entering puberty at a far earlier age is a side effect of having dwarfism, so if a normal girl can start her period at ten, it’s not that far fetched to think that a young girl with dwarfism could have hormones and start her period as young as seven or eight)
Kristine also stated that the Ukraine is notorious for not keeping track of records properly with children who are abandoned and for that reason, they believed her birth certificate to be forged. There’s a theory that in orphanages a child’s age is determined by how they match in comparison to a child of which record of their age is known. So, if they have a record of [John Doe] and John is ten years old, they would measure someone taller as being 11 and someone shorter as being nine. Kristine states that Natalia used her dwarfism as a means of keeping the orphanage from knowing her real age and having them believe she was a young child.
Kristine Barnett also went so far as to state that Natalia’s mental breakdowns saw Natalia take actions that could be classified as attempted murder on her, her husband and her children and that they were in fear for their safety, they had to hide the knives in their kitchen and couldn’t leave their biological children unattended with her because they thought she would cause them harm. We’re talking she’s depicting scenes straight out of the movie ‘The Orphan’ as though they’re playing out in her daily life.
Throughout this, Michael stood by his wife’s side and went along with each claim that she made.
In 2013, after spewing this notion that Natalia was much older than she said she was for nearly two and a half years, the Barnett’s petitioned a judge in the state of Indiana, where they were living, to have Natalia’s legal age changed. They stated that Natalia was a sociopath adult, masquerading as a young girl to scam their family. They used their ‘evidence’ from a doctor stating that Natalia’s bone density could possibly make her much older than she said she was, her advanced vocabulary, having a period and pubic hair as a means to showcase that Natalia was not a young girl.
Somehow, in some far fetched universe that I cannot even fathom how this happened, the judge in Indiana signed off and legally changed this girl’s legal age, reprinting her birth certificate to say Sept 4, 1989, rather than Sept 4, 2003. They added fourteen years on her age and went from being a ten year old child to 24 year old woman in the eye of the law. Legally speaking the United States recognized her as being born in 1989 and thus she was no longer a little girl.
2013 was also the point in time when the Barnett’s son Jacob gained widespread notoriety for accepting admittance to a prestigious University Physics program in Waterloo, Ontario (Canada) at the age of 13.
The Barnett’s took their son Jacob, their other two sons and they went to Canada… without Natalia. They paid for a year’s worth of rent for an apartment in Indiana and set her up for food stamps and they left her there, claiming it was within their right to do so because, in the eyes of the law, she was a grown adult.
They literally took their three sons and left their adoptive daughter, abandoning her in Indiana.
After that, not much is known of what happened to Natalia. She was trying to fend for herself, living off food stamps and perhaps kind neighbours? All of the stories I have read from this point in time are all speculative as to how she got by.
Eventually, though, she wound up notifying a Sheriff’s office in the county she lived in Indiana that her parents had moved to Canada and abandoned her, and the Barnett’s were literally living in Canada without her and not even thinking about her.
Thinking she was clearly someone with special needs who needed a family system around her, the sheriff’s office listed her as someone who needed to be a dependent and it’s speculated that she went back into the system, only to get rejected because her legal age was that of an adult. From there, it’s alleged she found her new family, the family she now lives with, when she attended a church service.
The family that she now lives with are a pastor, his wife and their children, and, it’s worth noting that, though they know her ‘legal age’ in the eye of the United States Government, they are treating her as the teenager they believe her to be.
This year, the family she’s been living with filed an injunction to have her age changed back to being that of a teenager because they wanted to enroll her in school. They wanted to send her to high school to be a normal kid but they couldn’t do that because, in 2019, with a legal birth year of 1989, she is 30 years old in the eyes of the law.
Michael and Kristine Barnett, who have divorced since 2013 when they legally had her age changed, rushed to put a stop to this injunction claiming that she was scamming this new family that she’s living with, that she is an adult and that her age cannot be changed.
Make’s sense, right? If her age was legally changed back, they could face charges for abandonment of a minor, for not giving this girl the proper care she needed, deserved and was owed by the law and thus they could be in a great deal of trouble.
So, they tried to fight this injunction that would change Natalia’s birth date back to being 2003.
This is where the story starts unfolding and going viral.
Allegedly, police have sat down and interviewed Michael Barnett for a four hour period, alone. During that time, without Kristine in the room or within earshot, Michael admitted to the entire thing being a scam, that Kristine new it was a lie when she had this girl’s age changed and she did it anyway. He says that he knew when he up and moved to Canada with Kristine and their three biological children, he knew he was leaving a young child behind, abandoning her and leaving her to fend for herself.
Michael and Kristine Barnett are presently being charged with abandoning their daughter as a dependent. Because there’s this sticky situation with her age happening right now, charges are still able to proceed even though she’s not ‘legally a child’ because in the State of Indiana you’re not allowed to abandon a dependent who needs physical or mental medical assistance for survival. Natalia’s dwarfism counting as a need to be a medical dependent.
Now, the family that Natalia is currently living with is still presently trying to have her birth year legally changed back to what it was on her original birth certificate – Sept 4 2003.
Kristine Barnett is adamant this birth date cannot be changed back and that Natalia is an adult.
It makes sense that Kristine wouldn’t want her birth date changed. Because, while she’s in trouble now for abandoning a dependent, she’d be in a whole new world of trouble for abandoning a ten year old girl, legally speaking.
Thus we’ve made it to the past two weeks of reporting. Every outlet that I read, every video I watch seems to have a slightly different story of the details, I think mainly because the true details are so unknown. Nobody really knows what happened to Natalia when they fled to Canada, they just speculate based off what neighbours mentioned. It’s never been publicly released how she found her new family, it’s just speculated she found them at church. That time in between 2013 and now, only Natalia really knows what has happened.
Anyways, I’ve been reading this and watching this all unfold, and I just can’t fathom how a judge, in his or her right mind, would legally add fourteen years onto the life of any human, regardless of the circumstance, without pure, factual evidence to showcase the scam. Because, everything that Kristine Barnett presented to the courts was complete speculation.
Today (Oct 9th) a woman has come forward claiming to be the birth mother of Natalia. She claims that Natalia’s birth year is in fact 2003 and that her birth date is in face Sept 4, 2003. She has paperwork for proof that she gave birth to a baby girl on Sept 4, 2003. This woman, Anna, claims that she didn’t find out about Natalia’s dwarfism until she was six months pregnant with her. She claims that she was told by doctors in the Ukraine that her daughter-to-be would never lead a normal life and for that reason she just shouldn’t bother trying to take her home from the hospital.
It’s worth noting that it’s not uncommon in Eastern European countries to ‘discard’ (for lack of better terminology) of babies with birth defects and disabilities because of the lack of ability of citizens to care for them with lack of medical, lack of funding, lack of living conditions to support their needs.
This woman who claims to be the birth mother of Natalia, Anna, says that she gave up Natalia at birth and that she knew Natalia was sent to live in an Orphanage and that, at the age of five, the Ukrainian government contacted her to let her know that Natalia was being adopted by a couple in the United States and that she should not legally try to interfere with this adoption because the couple who was going to adopt her would be able to care for her and her medical needs and get her the surgeries she required. So Anna did not intervene, and she believed that her daughter was adopted out of the orphanage and went to lead a privileged life in the United States with a happy family.
Anna notes that it’s only recently, when this story has gone viral that she’s learned of what really happened, and learned that her daughter was not given the life she thought.
The Daily Mail broke Anna’s story today, as Anna came forward to claim that her biological daughter was, in fact, born in 2003 and has just turned 16.
She’s had her credibility questioned – claiming that she’s only coming forward for attention and in return she’s submitted paperwork of Natalia’s birth, paperwork showcasing she gave birth to a baby on Sept 4, 2003 and said that she’s more than willing to take a DNA test to prove she’s Natalia’s biological mother if it’ll help prove Natalia’s age so that her birth year can be legally changed back to what it is supposed to be.
I just… I can’t even with this story right now. It’s so far fetched and so wild to me.
Natalia’s biological mother, Anna, has also said that she’s deeply saddened by what has happened to Natalia during her life and that, never in her wildest dreams did she think it could be as horrible as what the Barnett’s did to her. She said that, being in a much better place financially now than she was when she had her sixteen years ago, she’d welcome her back to the Ukraine at any time.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? I have so many questions. I have so much I need/want to know. I don’t understand. I have speculations of my own. I have so much that I want to say I don’t even know where to start.
First off, in my opinion, Kristine Barnett clearly did not want a daughter. She also clearly didn’t want this fact to get out, given the publicity and notoriety she was getting as a parent because of her son Jacob. I think this entire thing was a scam concocted by Kristine Barnett thinking it would leave her legally ‘off the hook’ for leaving this girl behind because she obviously couldn’t ‘give her back’ to the foster care system with a best selling book on shelves about how great of a parent she is…
As mentioned above, it’s not uncommon for individuals with dwarfism to hit puberty earlier than people of a normal stature. This is because of the fact that their bodies operate differently and it’s not really within their control. So it’s really not a far fetched thought that Natalia cold have gone through puberty much earlier than a girl without dwarfism.
It’s also extremely hard to measure a person’s age based on their bone density if they have dwarfism because, once again, their bodies operate differently than those of people who are normal stature. So judging this girls age based on bone density should have been a factor NEVER considered in Kristine Barnett’s court proceeding to change her age.
Next – it’s not an uncommon thing for children he live in orphanages or grow up in foster care systems in countries less developed than the United States to grow up with mental health issues or suffer from mental health issues such as ‘Reactive Attachment Disorder’. So, if Natalia was suffering from such issues, it would be ‘par for the course’. This is something all parents are warned they may have to deal with when they adopt a child from overseas.
Okay, so on what planet does a judge get off changing the legal age of anyone based on speculation? Anyone? Let alone changing the age of a human being from being 10 to 24 without real, actual legitimate proof? I don’t understand how a judge did this and thought it was a good idea. Did Kristine Barnett buy him off? She had book money… that could very well be?
What kind of a horrible person abandons a family member, or anyone in distress for that matter, whether you consider them family or not. Even if Kristine Barnett’s mental health claims/concerns were real, then there was a clear indication that in addition to this girl’s dwarfism, she was suffering greatly with mental health issues. Who the fuck just up and abandons someone suffering and says ‘Have a nice life?’
It’s so sick and twisted that Michael Barnett has admitted to police he knew it was a scam his wife made on the courts to change her age and he knew that Natalia knew nothing about it and had no say in it. It’s so disgusting that he kept it secret all these years and that he openly admits he knew he was leaving his ten year old adopted daughter behind, not a 24 year old.
I just can’t even wrap my head around this story.
This poor girl.
This sick and twisted couple, now divorced, essentially fucking her over so royally like this as a means to keep themselves from looking bad in the press?
If this woman, Anna, is proven to be the biological mother of Natalia, I sincerely hope that the Barnett’s are in for a world of legal trouble and hopefully, jail time.
Also, as of right now, her parenting book is still being sold. So that should come down.
And even if this woman isn’t proven to be the biological mother of Natalia, I still think the Barnett’s should be in a world of legal hurt because of changing her legal age in order to abandon her. Michael admitted it was all fake and it was all scheme. Likely to avoid negative press because her book was so popular….
Wow. I’ll be following this like a hawk to see how it unfolds.
There are some really fucked up people on this planet.
Have you ever heard the saying ‘maybe the best things in our lives are those which never happen to us’? I think most often when people speak of this saying they’re talking about being thankful they didn’t get married, or they’re thankful they didn’t choose that career path.
For me, it’s got a much deeper meaning.
In 2006 my father and I were scheduled to get on a ferry and travel home from where he was working and had been covering a route for one of his coworkers who’d been burned on the job and was in hospital. This day, lives fondly in my memory, as it was one of the few times we actually had a reservation for the ferry. My family didn’t pay for ferry reservations, we just showed up and waited until we could get on. But this day, the company had booked the reservation for us.
The evening we were leaving I’d begun packing up the things in our hotel room – food, clothes, sleeping bags, valuables, etc… and taking them out to the truck. Stupidly, I somehow managed to lock the keys in the truck. Though we weren’t five minutes from the ferry dock, we were going to have to wait for the tow truck company to come unlock our door so we could get the keys back. (This was just when keyless entry was starting to become more popular in vehicles and, as my dad had an older vehicle, we needed a physical key to unlock the door)
Being in a small town, the tow truck company said that it would be 45 minutes. The ferry was in an hour. So we got everything ready and we waited. We waited and waited. The tow truck driver didn’t show up for a full hour. We missed the ferry and were close enough that we could see it sailing away without us.
I was so upset. I’d ruined our route home and it was going to take that much extra time because of me. I was beating myself up pretty bad. How could I not? At 16, I was pretty insecure and felt like I’d cost my parents this very expensive mistake.
That night, as the ferry was sailing, it failed to make course changes through a passage it’d travelled through thousands of times before and the boat sank. Yup, it sank. In a narrow passage through the islands of Northern British Columbia, the ferry sank.
And because I locked the keys in the truck, we missed the ferry and we weren’t on it when it sunk.
In 2009 I received a rather large scholarship while in the process of completing my marketing degree. These funds were deposited in my account and, because there were no specific rules as to what I spent them on, I could use them how I saw fit in the process of being a student.
When I went to pay my tuition for the January semester, my transaction was declined. This was baffling to me as I had nearly $20,000 in my bank account.
I called the bank and asked them ‘What the hell?’ and was told that I had a limit of spending $1,000 a day on my account and I couldn’t exceed that. When I told them I had to pay my $6,000 tuition for the semester they said ‘Oh, you’e going to have to schedule an appointment to get that adjusted for tuition purposes’.
The next appointment that I could get was for the next day. It was a Thursday. I scheduled the appointment for 2:30 in the afternoon (after class) so that I could go down and yell at them for their stupid rules that wouldn’t allow me to spend my own money and pay my tuition.
Shortly before noon on that Thursday, my boss called me during my Calculus class. Being in class, I ignored it. He then sent me a text message that read ‘SOS’. Thinking he might be in trouble, I left class to call him.
My boss told me that he was sick and that he was being admitted into the hospital because he was so sick. He asked if I could cover his shift that afternoon because he was not going to be able to get there and I was the only person he trusted enough to run the place on my own without him.
Reluctantly, I said yes.
So, instead of going to my appointment at the bank, I went to work from 2-8 pm. that day.
At 2:30 pm that day, right about the time I would have been waiting in the bank for my appointment, or walking into my appointment, a strung-out junkie with a gun wandered into the bank to rob the place, botched the robbery and wound up holding everyone in the bank hostage for nearly four hours before police could diffuse the situation.
I remember how dumbfounded I felt when I heard the news. I remember thinking ‘I could have been there. I was supposed to be there’. My boss got sick and because of that I escaped being present for a bank robbery.
In 2013 I was driving through a horrendous snowstorm to a work event. Honestly, I shouldn’t have been driving that day. Visibility was about ten feet and the further I got up the highway, the more cars I saw in the ditches a long the side of the road.
I was scared, but I told myself to keep going because it was important that I got there.
I was listening to the radio as they were providing traffic reports every 5-10 minutes because the weather was so poor. I wanted to ensure the highways I needed to drive to get to my event weren’t going to be closed.
As I was passing through Leduc I saw two vehicles in my rear view mirror collide on the highway right were people were trying to merge coming out of Leduc headed towards Edmonton.This scared me a great deal, but I thought ‘Girl, keep going you’ll get there’. Before these two cars were out of my visibility, I saw a car come down the merge lane and crash into them. Then I thought, ‘Damn you narrowly missed a three car accident by 200 feet’.
By the time that I’d made it to Edmonton, just 15 minutes down the highway, I was hearing reports on the radio of a massive car pileup at the merge lane where I’d witnessed the accident in my rear view mirror. I remember thinking ‘Holy crap, more people must’ve come up behind them and not been able to see them’.
As I continued travelling that day, reports kept telling me that more and more cars were being reported as being a part of that accident. Eventually, the highway ended up being shut down fully because there was no way to get past all of the vehicles.
The next morning when I woke up to get ready for my event, I turned on the tv to listen to the morning news as I was doing my makeup.
The report on the news was of a 90 care pileup in Leduc. More than 300 people were injured because of the pileup and the highway had been closed and was still closed.
When I drove home three days later, they were still towing cars out of the ditch in that area as I drove past.
I missed a 90 car pileup by 200 feet.
In 2017 I was taking a Yoga Class with my friend Michelle. There was a bank near my house that was nowhere near hers, so on Thursday evenings she’d go to the bank to do her banking and then I’d meet her at the bank, we’d hop in her car and go to Yoga.
One cold and snowy Thursday night I was walking up to the bank and the door didn’t open.
Confused, I tried to pull on it. It wouldn’t open.
Michelle phoned me, so I picked up the phone. She said ‘Are you the person standing outside right now?’ I said ‘Yeah’.
“GO GET IN MY CAR’ she yelled. ‘Get in my car and put your head down’.
I was like ‘What? Why?’
She just yelled again ‘Go get in my car!’
Confused, I walked across the parking lot and got in her cold car. I’d really wanted to go in the bank because it was nice and warm, but I was just being a whiner.
Once in her car, I saw a text message from Michelle that said ‘Is there anyone out there’? So I texted back and said ‘No, it’s really cold. I’m the only person in the lot’.
‘There’s no one out there? You’re certain?’ She texted back. I said ‘I’m the only person out here. There’s no one in the other cars. What is going on?’
‘The bank was just robbed’, she texted.
‘Guy had a gun,’ she texted. ‘We’re stuck in here until the police come.’
‘Did you see anyone when you walked up?’ She texted.
Yeah, I had seen there was a man who walked out in a grey jacket with his face covered. I just assumed his face was covered because it was -30 Celsius outside. Turns out his face was covered because he’d just robbed the bank at gunpoint.
There I’d narrowly missed a bank robbery. The second bank robbery that I should have been at but wasn’t.
As I sat and told the police about the man I saw leaving the bank and the car I saw him leave in, I couldn’t help but think how he was twenty feet away from me with a gun when he left.
In 2018 I was headed into the grocery store to grab an entree for an event I was headed to. I was talking to my boyfriend when I was headed in and, rather than head into the store and have him hear the awful background music and people in the background, I chose to wait outside the store to finish talking to him.
I stood there for a few minutes as we chatted, completely unaware of the world going on around me. I was focused on him.
All of the sudden I heard a lot of noise coming from the front door of the grocery store, about a hundred feet away from me. I looked over and saw a man running away from the door, in a hood, jumping over the bushes, trying to get away.
I went over to the front door and the store manager ran out and was screaming expletives at him about putting his employees and customers in danger.
Then the store manager turned to me and said ‘You saw him, right? You saw him. Stay here, the cops are coming’.
While I was standing outside of the grocery store talking to my boyfriend on the phone, the customer service desk at the front of the grocery store was being robbed by a man with a machete.
Because I was chatting on the phone with my boyfriend, I missed the store being robbed by a man with a machete.
Throughout my life I’ve had several experiences in which I’ve felt like I ‘dodged a bullet’ so to speak. (Both literally and figuratively) Like perhaps the universe is looking out for me. Like I’m being protected, for some reason.
It’s in moments when I am beating myself up that I try to remember these stories. Because these stories, they’re the best things that never happened to me. The universe is looking out for me. And if it’s picked me to look after, I might as well at least use that as motivation to do something in this world, to make a difference, to be the change.
I beat up on myself a lot. I do. Truthfully, I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a lot to be grateful for having missed in my life. It wasn’t that I almost got married, or that I was glad I didn’t get ‘that degree’, it’s that these truly incredibly scary events have happened and these things I should have been a part of, I wasn’t.
It’s taught me a lot. And given me a lot of gratitude.
Here’s to the universe, it’s been good to me over the years. As much as I beat up on myself, I really ought to remember that more often.