Natalia Grace's First Adoptive Parents May Have Been Even Worse Than the Barnetts

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jan. 2 2024, Published 12:06 p.m. ET

Natalia Grace speaking in 'Natalia Speaks'
Source: Investigation Discovery

The Gist:

  • Natalia Grace was initially adopted by the Ciccone family in New Hampshire before she was adopted by Kristine and Michael Barnett.
  • Allegations and rumors suggest that the Ciccones may have tried to "sell" Natalia to the Barnetts or another family due to undisclosed medical needs and financial motives.
  • Speculations on social media raise concerns about the Ciccones potentially being involved in child trafficking through their adoption agency, leading to investigations and explaining their absence from documentaries on Natalia's story.
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Children who grow up without their biological parents can have a difficult enough life, but unfortunately, there are adoptive parents out there who take advantage of this. Ukrainian orphan Natalia Grace was first brought to the U.S. when she was around 6 years old, but her adoptive parents, Kristine and Michael Barnett claimed Grace was a sociopathic adult posing as a child. However, they weren’t Natalia’s first adoptive parents.

Natalia was first adopted in New Hampshire by Dyan and Gary Ciccone, who didn't speak in either documentary about the strange incident. The Curious Case of Natalia Grace aired in mid-2023 from Michael Barnett’s perspective. Now, Natalia is telling her own story in Investigation Discovery’s Natalia Speaks. Her first adoptive family may have been more significant than previously thought.

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Natalia Grace as a young child in 'Natalia Speaks'
Source: Investigation Discovery

Natalia Grace was first adopted by the Ciccone family in New Hampshire.

When The Curious Case of Natalia Grace aired, Michael Barnett claimed that Good Shepherd Adoptions facilitated the Barnetts’ adoption of Natalia. However, the agency put out a statement, which stated:

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“Contrary to Mr. Barnett’s claims, ASC did not initiate any communication or contact with Mr. and Mrs. Barnett regarding Natalia’s adoption. The adoption process for Natalia was carried out by a court in New Hampshire, where the original adoptive family resided. ASC was not involved in any capacity, nor were they a party to the placement of Natalia.”

However, ASC admitted that they spoke with the Ciccones, who had initially adopted Natalia in New Hampshire. The Ciccones were seeking assistance to get Natalia rehomed, and since they spoke with the Barnetts as well, it’s possible that ASC helped facilitate the adoption process between both parties. But because ASC has no jurisdiction in New Hampshire or Indiana, they had no official part in the process.

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Natalia Grace in 'The Curious Case of Natalia Grace'
Source: Investigation Discovery

People on the internet are claiming that Natalia's first adoptive family may have been involved in child trafficking.

From what we and viewers can discern, there may not have been any sort of official adoption process between the Ciccones and the Barnetts besides a private adoption. According to rumors and reports, the Ciccones tried to effectively “sell” Natalia to the next family.

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Allegedly, the Ukrainian adoption agency failed to disclose Natalia’s expensive medical needs. After paying for one surgery, the Ciccones didn’t want to house her any longer and were looking for avenues to both make their money back and get her off their hands.

According to reports, one teacher who struggled with a similar medical condition to Natalia desperately wanted to adopt her, but couldn't afford to take her off the Ciccones’ hands. This insinuates that the Ciccones were asking for money. Some people on Reddit have even suggested that the Ciccones are being investigated for child trafficking.

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One Redditor wrote, “So someone on Twitter posted a link to a ProPublica filing and Dyan Ciccone also appears to be running her own adoption agency out of New Hampshire. I think it's possible these people were ‘flipping’ these foreign-born adoptees in private $$ adoptions- utilizing their own ‘adoption agency’ to facilitate these deals.” Ciccone is listed as the Director of the Domestic Program and part of the board for this private agency.

In the documentary, Natalia revealed that Dyan Ciccone thought she tried to break her brother’s arm. “I can’t do this anymore,” Natalia heard Ciccone say. “It’s clear they wanted to unload her,” Natalia’s lawyer, Beth Karas, stated. According to her social media, however, Ciccone is just a mother of two sons, adjunct professor, writer, and cat mom. Little is known about Gary, but whatever the situation was, we’re glad that Natalia is now in a better one.

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