Initially believing they had adopted a six-year-old girl, an Indiana couple, Michael and Kristine Barnett, gradually grew suspicions about her age, accusing her of posing as a child while being an adult dwarf with sinister intentions. Recently, it was decided to conduct a DNA test that has finally revealed the orphan’s actual age.
The distressing ordeal faced by the family is explored in The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, a documentary recently premiered on Investigation Discovery (ID). In the opening sequence, emotions running high, Michael Barnett tearfully expresses, “She won’t tell us the truth of who she is — we are living with a con artist.”
Doubts about her true age arose when, on one occasion, Natalia encountered another child who was a genuine six-year-old with a rare bone disorder. The striking contrast in age became unmistakable as Natalia towered over her playmate, displaying advanced bone structure and vocabulary.
Furthermore, according to Michael, Natalia exhibited various signs indicating she was not a child but an adult. These signs included the presence of menstrual periods and adult teeth. Additionally, he noted that she did not experience any growth, which would typically occur even in children with dwarfism.
These indicators prompted the family to seek legal assistance. In 2012, they initiated a petition in probate court, and the judge, after careful consideration, officially modified her birth date from 2003 to 1989 on her birth document.
Finally, a DNA test has been conducted to end these never-ending suspicions. The test appears to confirm that Natalia was indeed a child when she joined the Barnetts family. The blood analysis indicates that Natalia is approximately 22 years old today, suggesting she was 9 years old when adopted by the couple in 2010.
Natalia expressed her frustration in the premiere episode of The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, stating, “This one little piece of paper throws every single lie that the Barnetts has said right into the trash with a match,” She emphasized the impact of their falsehoods on her life, saying, “They ruined a kid’s life. They painted [me] as some big monster.”
The latest episode also revealed that an endocrinologist evaluated Natalia in 2010, estimating her age to be between nine and 11, with this information communicated to the Barnetts.
Additionally, a dentist interviewed for the documentary shared that Kristine Barnett visited his office in 2011 seeking an age determination for Natalia through a teeth examination. After an X-ray, the dentist concluded that Natalia had 12 baby teeth and noted that when Kristine and Natalia left, Kristine was aware that Natalia was approximately 8 or 9 years old.
Fortunately, not every person with dwarfism experiences a narrative as intense as Natalia’s. Under favorable conditions, those born with this condition can pursue the same occupations, daily routines, and family life aspirations as any other person.