“I was exceptionally controlled and put down and threatened,” Micheal said of his ex when speaking to Natalia, 23, in a sitdown conversation during episode 1 of The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks on Monday, January 1. “Anything that was who I was ripped from me and I was guided and instructed to be exactly what she wanted me to be.”
Michael explained that he recently discovered that he and Natalia shared the same “monster,” naming his ex-wife. “Her favorite threat was taking the boys away from me and making sure I would never see them ever again,” he explained, also revealing he did attempt to end the marriage before their 2018 divorce. “I tried to leave her no less than 10 times. I ended up in the hospital regularly over it.”
Natalia, who has a severe form of dwarfism known as spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SEDc), entered Michael and Kristine’s family when they adopted her in 2010, believing her to be 6 years old at the time. However, while giving Natalia a bath, Kristine alleged that she found out her new adoptive daughter had pubic hair, which made her believe that Natalia was much older. Michael and Kristine went on to claim that Natalia threatened and attempted to kill them multiple times, using her rare form of dwarfism to pose as a child and infiltrate the family as a “con artist.”
The Barnett family had Natalia’s birth year legally changed in 2012 from 2003 to 1989 — aging her by 14 years. After Natalia was declared a legal adult, the Barnetts rented her own apartment in Lafayette, Indiana, and relocated with their three sons to Canada.
Neighbors of Natalia’s soon expressed concerns about the Ukrainian native’s wellbeing and Michael and Kristine were later charged with neglect of a dependent. Despite her legal age change, Natalia’s physical limitations due to her dwarfism caused her to be dependent on their care, according to prosecutors. In 2022, Michael was found not guilty of all three charges against him, and in May, the charges against Kristine were dropped.
Michael and other people close to the situation previously told their side of the story in The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, which aired in May, but the docuseries did not include commentary from Natalia herself.
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Natalia Speaks, which is a six-part series airing on ID, told the story from her perspective and provided “insight into what really went on behind closed doors in the Barnetts’ home,” according to a press release. During episode 1, Natalia proved her current age via a DNA test and confirmed she was a child when she was initially adopted by the Barnetts in 2010.
The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks airs on ID across three consecutive nights beginning January 1 at 9 p.m. ET.
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