A Couple Adopted a 6-Year-Old, Then Claimed She Was Really an Adult — Who Is Natalia Grace?

Natalia Grace's story is unbelievable. After her adoptive parents were convinced she was actually 21 (not 6), they abandoned her. Where is she now?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Sep. 25 2023, Updated 3:56 p.m. ET

The gist:

  • Natalie Grace Barnett’s story was featured in an Investigation Discovery documentary in July 2023.
  • Natalie Grace allegedly posed as a six-year-old when she was actually 20.
  • It's reported that Natalia Grace now lives in Indiana, with the family who took her in 2014.

The question on everyone's minds is, how old is Natalia Grace Barnett and where is she now? According to her birth certificate, she was born in 2003.

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However, that information was changed in 2012 after her adoptive parents petitioned a court to legally do so, per the New York Post. Her new birth year is now 1989 which is quite the jump. Why would Kristine and Michael Barnett, the couple who brought the 6-year-old Ukrainian orphan to their home in Indiana, do such a thing?

They claimed to have evidence that she was not actually a child but an adult masquerading as one. They also accused her of abusing them and even trying to kill them.

This all led to Natalia being left alone in an apartment paid for by Michael Barnett, while the family relocated to Canada. So, where is she now?

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Where is Natalia Grace now?

What makes this case more complicated is the fact that Natalia Grace suffers from spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, a rare form of dwarfism. In an effort to tell her side of the story, Natalia went on Dr. Phil in November 2019 to clear the air. In the interview, she is sitting next to Antwon and Cynthia Mans, the Indiana couple who took her in after she was abandoned by the Barnett family.

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At the time, they had two children with a third on the way, so adding a stranger to their family was an unusual decision.

Despite being aware of the abuse allegations lodged against Grace by Kristine and Michael Barnett, the Mans family was not concerned. They saw no evidence of the violent behavior that was attributed to Natalia. In fact, it was quite the opposite. "We have other children. We have a grandson," said Cynthia. "She does nothing but love her siblings and her nephew."

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In September 2019, a friend of the Mans told The Daily Mail that Natalia thinks of her new family as good Samaritans who "welcomed her into their hearts."

Because of how they feel about her, Cynthia and Antwon tried to become her legal guardians in 2016 but, "court records show they later withdrew their petition after the court upheld an earlier ruling that she was born in 1989 and not 2003." It's important to note that Natalia receives $733 a month in disability, which would go to the Mans if they were her guardians.

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A woman claiming she is Natalia Grace's biological mother came forward in 2019.

A woman by the name of Anna Volodymyrivna Gava told Daily Mail TV (via Insider) that she is Natalia Grace's birth mother. In an emotional interview from October 2019, Gava explained that she was "forced to give up Natalia 16 years ago, when the girl was an infant." Apparently she was unable to care for Grace after getting a divorce from her father, or so she said.

Source: Twitter/@ffrenchie_

"Daughter, forgive me for what happened 16 years ago. Visit soon for me to see you," she said. "We are waiting for you. You have two sisters and two brothers." Evidently, the outlet also saw documents from the orphanage where Natalia was living which state that she was admitted in October 2003. As of the time of this writing, there is no proof that Gava is Natalia's mother. This definitely is the kind of story that is the stuff of dreams for all kinds of grifters.

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