Natalia Grace Barnett is planning to fight back against her former adoptive parents Michael and Kristine Barnett with civil lawsuits.

During episode 4 of The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks on Tuesday, January 2, Natalia, 22, revealed that she is going through the process of becoming legally adopted by Cynthia and Antwon Mans, the couple who took her in after the Barnetts abandoned her in Lafayette, Indiana. She explained that this will help protect her when she sues Michael and Kristine.

“What this adoption will do is kind of pave the way for anything legally you want to do in the future,” Natalia’s lawyer told her. “Because the evidence will speak for itself.”

Natalia added, “With this adoption, I’ll be legally a part of the family so that way I’ll be protected while I do civil suits against the Barnetts. You know, abuse, neglect, a whole bunch of other stuff that should not have happened.”

Natalia, who was born in Ukraine and has a severe form of dwarfism known as spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SEDc), was adopted by Michael and Kristine in 2010. At the time, they believed she was 6 years old. However, the couple claimed she had pubic hair, which led them to wonder if she was actually much older. They went on to accuse her of being an adult con artist, as well as a “psychopath” who threatened and attempted to kill them multiple times.

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

Michael Barnett Kristine Barnett

During her time in Lafayette, Natalia met Antwon and Cynthia, who believed that Natalia was a child living on her own. They also recognized that her disability made it difficult to live in that apartment, which had several flights of stairs, high cabinets and more. The neighborhood was also generally seen as unsafe.

Michael and Kristine faced charges of neglect of a dependent in September 2019. However, four of the charges against Michael were dropped in February 2022 because the court determined they could not consider anything related to Natalia’s age, as she was legally an adult. He was then found not guilty in October 2022, and the remaining three counts of neglect and conspiracy to commit neglect of a dependent — which were based on Natalia’s disability — were dismissed. Kristine’s charges were dropped before trial in March 2023 due to insufficient evidence.

In Natalia Speaks, Natalia shared her side of the story, detailing the alleged abuse she endured at the hands of Kristine. She claimed that Kristine beat her with a belt, pepper sprayed her in the eyes and forced her to wear a tampon despite not having a period yet. Natalia also took a DNA test that proved she was 22 years old as of 2023, meaning she was around 9 years old when the Barnetts abandoned her. Additionally, she confronted Michael for the first time in years, and he alleged that both of them were victims of abuse from Kristine.

The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks continues on Investigation Discovery on January 3 at 9 p.m. ET.

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