Investigation Discovery’s The Curious Case of Natalia Grace docuseries and its follow-up, Natalia Speaks, focused on hearing both sides to the story of former Ukrainian orphan Natalia Grace’s adoption into Michael and Kristine Barnett’s family. The exes’ oldest son, Jacob Barnett, was a frequent topic in Natalia Speaks, and he briefly shared his perspective in The Curious Case. Many fans are now wondering where Jacob is today.
How Many Kids Do Michael and Kristine Barnett Have?
Michael and Kristine, a former couple from Indiana, adopted Natalia in 2010. At the time, they believed she was 6 years old. However, mature features on her body led Kristine to suspect that Natalia was actually an adult who used her severe form of dwarfism to pose as a child and terrorize the Barnett family. Michael alleged in The Curious Case that Natalia made several threats and attempts to kill them. However, Natalia claimed that she suffered alleged abuse from Kristine.
After two years of living with Natalia, Michael and Kristine petitioned to have her birth year legally changed from 2003 to 1989, which would have made her 23 years old in 2012. The former spouses then moved to Canada with their three biological sons — Jacob, Wesley and Ethan.
Michael also claimed in both docuseries that Kristine was manipulative and forced him to go along with her plan to age up Natalia to get rid of her. He alleged that she threatened to take their sons away from him if he got in her way. Michael claimed in Natalia Speaks that he hadn’t seen Wesley and Ethan since their divorce in 2014.
Who Is Michael and Kristine Barnett’s Son Jacob Barnett?
Michael and Kristine welcomed Jacob on May 26, 1998. Though he did not appear in the follow-up docuseries, Jacob was frequently talked about in Natalia Speaks. He and Kristine are known outside of Natalia’s case in the academic world, as Kristine claimed to have turned Jacob — who is autistic and reportedly has an IQ of 170 — into a “genius.” She published a memoir in 2013 about how she raised a genius son, called The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism.
“Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics,” the book’s description reads. “But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.”
As a child prodigy, Jacob was the subject of several televised interviews over the years, including a 60 Minutes episode. He also presented his own Ted Talk as a teenager. He attended Princeton University and became the world’s youngest astrophysics researcher. In addition to his studies, Jacob founded a business called Wheel LLC and a charity called Jacob’s Place.
Jacob Barnett Spoke Out About His Former Adopted Sister Natalia Grace
Though Jacob admitted in The Curious Case that he was sometimes fearful of Natalia, he also claimed that Kristine was controlling and abusive. He recalled an incident where Kristine allegedly forced him to urinate on Natalia’s bed. Jacob said he continued to feel guilty about his actions to this day.
“Like, I kinda feel like a Nazi following orders, in a way. So there’s definitely guilt,” he said, adding that Natalia wasn’t “treated fairly.”
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Jacob continued, “In the unlikely scenario that Natalia listens to this or doesn’t turn it off, I hope she understands I’m apologetic. I’ve had a lot of time to really think about stuff and grow up.”
Where Is Jacob Barnett Now?
Today, Jacob is a theoretical physicist at Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, according to multiple reports. It’s not clear if he has had any contact with Natalia since she and the Barnetts cut ties.
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