Natalia Grace Mans (née Barnett), the woman at the center of Investigation Discovery’s Curious Case of Natalia Grace docuseries, celebrated her birthday with her new adoptive family following several years of confusion regarding her true age

Ukraine-born Natalia and her adoptive parents, Antwon and Cynthia Mans, went live on social media on Monday, September 4, in honor of her 20th milestone birthday. Antwon and Cynthia surprised Natalia with tickets to see her favorite Christian artist, Tauren Wells, as well as some other birthday gifts. Additionally, they wished Natalia a happy birthday on the family’s shared Instagram account.

“#BirthdayGirl #LovedbyMany,” the caption read alongside a selfie of Natalia with a Happy Birthday filter. 

The celebration comes a little more than three months after the release of ID network’s six-part docuseries The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, which told the story of Natalia’s adoption into a family in Indiana in 2010. Her former adoptive father, Michael Barnett, claimed in the series that he and his ex-wife, Kristine Barnett, believed that Natalia was 6 years old when they adopted her. However, her alleged behavioral issues and mature features on her body led the former couple to believe she was actually an adult living with a severe form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SEDc).

In addition to accusing Natalia of lying about her age to con her adoptive parents, Michael claimed that she made several threats and attempts to kill or harm him and Kristine, as well as their three biological sons Jacob, Wesley and Ethan. He alleged that Natalia stood over their bed with a knife, attempted to poison Kristine’s coffee with household cleaner and pushed Kristine into an electric fence.

After two years of living with Natalia, Michael and Kristine petitioned to have her birthday legally changed from September 4, 2003, to September 4, 1989, which would have made her 23 years old in 2012. The family then rented Natalia an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana, and left her behind as they moved to Canada. 

Despite Natalia legally being an adult, Michael and Kristine faced charges for neglect of a dependent in September 2019. Ahead of Michael’s trial in 2022, Natalia’s biological mother, Anna Volodymyrivna Gava, was interviewed and insisted that her daughter was born in 2003, as originally stated on her birth certificate. Still, the charges against Michael and Kristine were dismissed in October 2022 and March 2023. 

During her time in Lafayette, Natalia met Antwon and Cynthia, who went on to adopt her. They maintained that she was a minor when the Barnetts left her behind. Additionally, Antwon and Cynthia denied that she ever showed any signs of violence toward them or their other children. 

Natalia has also maintained that Michael and Kristine’s claims about her were not true. Following the premiere of the docuseries from May 29 to May 31, ID network announced a follow-up documentary titled The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks, in which Natalia will share her side of the story. A release date has yet to be announced at the time of publication. 

“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,” Natalia said in the trailer. “But I’m hearing all this stuff that never actually happened from Kristine and Michael.” 

Natalia continued, “And people are believing what Kristine and Michael are saying without even hearing my side. This is my side of the story, and I’m gonna say what happened because I 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.” 

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