Natalia Grace was accused of pretending to be a 6-year-old orphan who was adopted and later abandoned by Michael and Kristine Barnett.
Thanks to the Investigation Discovery docuseries, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, and the follow-up special, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks, there's been renewed interest in the adoption scandal surrounding Natalia Grace, a woman accused of pretending to be a 6-year-old orphan from Ukraine and her former parents, Michael Barnett and Kristine Barnett. As Grace tells her side of the story, here's what to remember about the subsequent legal drama and where she is now.
Before becoming caught up in a media scandal, Grace was believed to be a young child first adopted by the Barnett family in 2010. Soon after, Grace, who has a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal, was accused of being an adult before she was eventually abandoned by her adoptive parents.
Natalia's Legal Drama
The Barnetts alleged that Grace tried to poison Kristine and pushed Michael into an electric fence. Before leaving Grace behind in a Lafayette, Indiana, apartment in 2013, they had her legal age changed from 6 to 22 years old and then moved to Canada.
Years later, both parents were charged with neglect in September 2019, with Michael going to trial in February 2022 over four specific charges -- neglect of a dependent, neglect of a dependent causing bodily injury, neglect of a dependent causing serious bodily injury and conspiracy to neglect a dependent.
Although he was eventually found not guilty, the Daily Mail reports that Grace went on to "testify that she sustained herself mostly on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ramen noodles and an occasional pizza. She said she had limited use of her hands and arms, and struggled to open canned food."
According to the outlet, Grace "was also forced to move to a second apartment after a year due to complaints about her disturbing behavior. Neighbors recounted seeing her struggling to take care of herself and recount in the documentary how they saw her wearing dirty clothing, scuffed shoes and stinking of body odor."
Charges against Kristine, who is now divorced from Michael, were dropped in 2023, weeks before her trial was set to begin in March.
Where Natalia Is Now
After being abandoned, Grace was eventually taken in by another couple, Antwon Mans and Cynthia Mans in 2014. In 2016, they applied to become her legal guardians, but were denied. They maintained that she was a teenager at the time and later spoke out during an episode of Dr. Phil, explaining that they didn't experience the same allegations of abuse.
After also appearing on the same 2019 Dr. Phil episode, Grace testified at Michael Barnett's trial. But since then, she hasn't been seen or heard from publicly until now.
In 2019, a Ukrainian woman named Anna Volodymyrivna Gava came forward, claiming that she was Grace's birth mother. And while speaking to Daily Mail, she refuted claims that Grace was an adult at the time of her adoption or that she was a "sociopath."
According to multiple outlets, Grace still lives in Indiana.
What Natalia Is Saying
"This is my side of the story, and I'm going to say what happened because I never got a chance to say what happened," Grace says in ET's exclusive preview of her upcoming two-hour documentary.
Set to premiere in the summer of 2023, Natalia Speaks sees Grace detailing what really happened to her after being adopted by the Barnetts and addresses the allegations the family made against her while she was still living with them.
"The things that Kristine and Michael have said that I have done is a lie. I have never done anything that Kristine and Michael have said that I have done," Natalia says in the clip, referring to the many allegations the couple has brought against their formerly adopted daughter.
"You can ask anybody in my family now. You can ask Bishop Antwon and Cynthia Mans that -- just ask them, 'Has she ever done anything?' They will tell you who I really am. They're not going to lie and neither am I," Natalia continues.
"It's frustrating. It's very frustrating to hear everything that's being said from Kristine and Michael. And because I already don't know who I am and I want to know who I am and what happened to me, but I'm hearing all this stuff that never actually happened from Kristine and Michael," she goes on to say. "I'm like, 'It's shocking and it's frustrating.' Because that's not even true. And people are believing what Kristine and Michael are saying without even hearing my side."
Natalia concludes by adding, "Y'all have heard from Kristine and Michael and what they have said. But you need to hear both sides in order to know what happened."
The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks follows The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, which aired over three nights on Investigation Discovery and is now streaming on Max and Discovery+.