In the May 2023 ID network docuseries The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, Michael Barnett shared the story of adopting daughter Natalia Grace Barnett with his then-wife, Kristine Barnett, in 2010. He accused Natalia of attempting to kill his family and lying about her true age.
Natalia then shared her version of events in a follow-up series called Natalia Speaks in January 2024. After hearing both sides of the story, fans are confused about what happened to Natalia after she left the Barnett family and where is she now.
What Happened to Natalia Grace?
Michael and Kristine, a former couple from Indiana with three biological sons, adopted Natalia, a Ukrainian girl, in 2010, believing she was 6 years old at the time. However, her alleged behavioral issues and mature features on her body led her adoptive parents to believe that she was really an adult living with a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SEDc).
In addition to accusing Natalia of lying about her true age, Michael claimed that she made several threats and attempts to kill him, Kristine and her adoptive brothers. For example, 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, making her 23 years old in 2012. The former spouses rented Natalia an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana, and left her behind while they moved to Canada.
Though Natalia was legally seen as an adult, Michael and Kristine faced charges for neglect of a dependent in September 2019. Michael went to trial in October 2022, but he was found not guilty. Three counts of neglect and conspiracy to commit neglect of a dependent were dismissed. Meanwhile, the charges against Kristine were dropped in March 2023 before she went to trial.
In The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks, which premiered on ID network on January 1, 2024, the Ukraine native disputed Michael’s claims and attempted to set the record straight.
Where Is Natalia Grace Today?
While living in Lafayette, Natalia befriended a couple named Cynthia and Antwon Mans. They believed her side of the story, including that she was a minor when the Barnetts abandoned her, and adopted her into their family. They went on Dr. Phil with Natalia in 2019 and maintained that she never showed any signs of violence toward their family.
Natalia lived with Cynthia, Antwon and their five other children in Crawfordsville, Indiana. The couple previously advocated for Natalia and her disability, even launching a GoFundMe to raise money for a wheelchair-accessible van in June 2023.
Followers of Natalia’s story were happy the orphan found the family she was looking for — until it was revealed during episode 3 of Natalia Speaks that the Mans had cut ties with her two weeks after filming wrapped for the docuseries.
The series ended with an alleged phone call that producers received from Antwon and Cynthia, where the couple expressed that “something wasn’t right” with Natalia.
“I feel like she’s the enemy in the house. And she said to us, we have held her hostage. Made us look like we’re the enemy,” Antwon said on the other end of the phone line. Meanwhile, his wife added, “Natalia is stabbing her family in the back over a complete lie.”
The scene didn’t reveal what Natalia did to the Man’s family, but it looks like true crime fans will find out. The series ended with a note on the screen saying, “Natalia’s story will continue.”
Days after the Natalia Speaks finale, Natalia took to her personal Instagram page with an update on how she was doing after separating from the Mans family.
“I am okay and doing well and thank you all for your support and prayers,” she wrote on January 5, 2024. “I wish I could tell you more [about] the show but I signed an agreement with the show to keep things confidential for now. I will let you guys know when I can for sure, but just know I am okay. Love y’all.”
Additionally, Natalia seemingly started a GoFundMe to raise money for a new home and surgery amid her estrangement from Antwon and Cynthia.
“I recently moved out and I’m saving money to get my own house so I can have a personal place of my own,” the page’s description read. “I am doing this so I can have a fresh start in life as an adult and get past everything that happened in my life.”
The fundraiser page continued, “I’ll likely have to have major spine surgery and even more surgery on my legs. The costs associated with these surgeries are in excess of $500,000 because the specialist does not accept my medical insurance. The first treatment I need is to have my spine corrected as if I leave it too long it could lead to paralysis and incontinence.”
According to the GoFundMe page, the Ukraine native plans to start a business to save up money for the surgery, but any excess funds from the GoFundMe that do not go towards a deposit for her “own place” will go towards the treatment.
“To all who have stuck by me through all of this, I cannot thank you enough! I love y’all,” the page concluded.
Shortly thereafter, Natalia gave an update via her Instagram account, telling followers that things in her life were “hard,” but that she had to “keep going.” The post was accompanied by a selfie, and fans left encouraging notes for the Ukraine native in the comments.
Where Do Things Stand Between Natalia Grace and the Mans Family?
The Mans family never specifically revealed what really went down between them and Natalia, but Cynthia offered an update amid the fallout of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks. Taking to TikTok Live in January 2024, Cynthia said that Natalia was “still part of the family,” countering the schism that was featured at the end of the series. Her update came shortly after telling The U.S. Sun that while Natalia was not living with the Mans family anymore, everything between them was “absolutely perfect.”
How Old Is Natalia Grace?
Natalia’s true age was widely debated for years. During Michael’s trial, Natalia’s biological mother, Anna Volodymyrivna Gava, insisted that she was born in 2003, as stated on her birth certificate. Cynthia and Antwon celebrated Natalia’s 20th birthday in September 2023.
Her age was confirmed through a DNA test during episode 1 of Natalia Speaks. TruDiagnostic — a medical lab that specializes in biological aging based on DNA methylation — took a blood sample from Natalia and learned that she was somewhere close to 22 years old as of August 2023. This meant Natalia was a young child when the Barnetts adopted her in 2010.
“This one little piece of paper throws every single lie that the Barnetts has said right into the trash with a match,” Natalia told her adoptive father during the special. “This is so big. Because literally, this has been 13 years of just two people lying their butts off. They ruined a kid’s life. They painted [me] as some big monster, when in reality they were the ones.”
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