In light of the gripping ID docuseries The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, true crime viewers have pointed out the eerie similarities between the allegations against Natalia Grace Barnett and the 2009 horror movie Orphan. So, is the cult classic actually inspired by the Ukraine native, or is it all a haunting coincidence? 

Keep reading to learn more about the movie’s inspiration and Natalia’s case. 

Who Is Natalia Grace Barnett? 

Natalia was adopted by Michael and Kristine Barnett in April 2010 from Ukraine through an emergency adoption process. Upon bringing her back home to live with their biological sons, Jacob, Wesley and Ethan, the then-couple alleged that they witnessed their adoptive daughter showing signs of violence, including allegedly attempting to stab the family members, poisoning Kristine’s coffee and shoving her into an electric fence. They then became suspicious of her age, alleging that she was actually a fully grown woman living with a condition called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, a form of dwarfism. 

In the May 2023 Curious Case of Natalia Grace three-part documentary, Michael alleged that he once woke up in the middle of the night to see Natalia “standing at the foot of the bed with a knife in her hand.” The docuseries delves into the Barnett family’s accusations against Natalia. 

Natalia Grace Breaks Silence on Claims in Special Interview
Courtesy of ID/YouTube

After living with her for nearly three years, the family moved to Canada in 2013, leaving the former orphan in a rental apartment alone in Lafayette, Indiana. 

In 2012, Michael and Kristine petitioned to have Natalia’s birth year changed from 2003 to 1989. Though it was approved, the ex-spouses were charged with several counts of neglect in September 2019. 

However, charges were dropped against the pair, with Michael’s being dismissed after his October 2022 trial ended that month and Kristine’s being dropped in March 2023 just three weeks before her trial was scheduled to begin. 

What Is ‘Orphan’ 2009 Movie About? 

The horror movie focuses on the Coleman family who adopt a 9-year-old Russian girl named Esther, portrayed by actress Isabelle Fuhrman. After they bring her home, Kate Coleman (Vera Farmiga) starts noticing odd behavior from Esther, including her knowledge about adult-oriented topics. 

Though Kate and her biological children become concerned over Esther’s violent demeanor, John (played by Peter Sarsgaard) doesn’t suspect a thing until Esther begins to take a romantic interest in him. 

By the end of the film, it’s revealed that Esther is actually 33 years old, and her real name is Leena Klammer, a woman who has been living with a condition called hypopituitarism (a form of dwarfism that stunted her growth and made her look like a child).  

Is ‘Orphan’ Based on Natalia Grace Barnett? 

Natalia opened up about the similarities between her story and the 2009 film in the docuseries The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks.

“But the things that Kristine and Michael have said that I’ve done is a lie,” she said. “It was all copied off the movie Orphan. Ukrainian girl, Russian girl, check. Orphan, check. All this crazy stuff … standing by the end of the bed with a knife. Check.”

Despite the alarming similarities between Orphan’s plot and Natalia’s case, the film was actually inspired by the story of a woman named Barbora Skrlova, who posed as a 13-year-old boy named Adam in Norway, according to multiple outlets. 

Per CBS News, Skrlova was hiding from Czech authorities to avoid giving her testimony for a 2007 child abuse trial. 

Is Natalia Grace a True Story?

While Orphan was not inspired by the Barnett’s lives, their story is, in fact, true.

After the three-part documentary wrapped, ID released a trailer for its upcoming follow-up series called The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks, in which Natalia will break her silence about the accusations she is facing from her former adoptive parents.

“It’s very frustrating to hear everything that’s being said from Kristine and Michael because I already don’t know who I am, and I want to know who I am, what happened to me,” the Ukraine native said in a sneak peek clip. “But I’m hearing all this stuff that never actually happened from Kristine and Michael. … And people are believing what Kristine and Michael are saying without even hearing my side.”

She then explained that in her “side of the story,” she is “gonna say what happened because [she] never got a chance to say what happened.”

“Y’all have heard Kristine and Michael and what they have said, but you need to hear both sides in order to know what really happened,” Natalia concluded.

The upcoming special is expected to premiere later this summer on ID.

How Old Is Natalia Grace Barnett? 

It is still unclear how old Natalia really is, since her altered birth certificate would make her around 34 years old. However, Natalia claims that she was born in 2003, which would mean that she is about 20 years old today. 

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