An Indiana couple accused of abandoning their child is speaking out and insisting that the child is not a child at all — but a 22-year-old scam artist from Ukraine.
What are the details?
Michael and Kristine Barnett, who are now divorced, adopted the girl, Natalia, in 2010. A court document revealed that Natalia suffers from dwarfism.
Just two years later in 2012, the couple changed their adopted daughter's age to 22 in a probate court prior to leaving the United States to relocate to Canada.
When the Barnetts left the U.S. with their two sons, they left Natalia behind in Indiana. The couple also reportedly paid rent for the apartment in which they left Natalia, but said that they "did not financially support" their adopted daughter.
Last week, officials charged the Barnetts with two counts of felony neglect of a dependent. A Tippecanoe County judge issued warrants for Michael and Kristine on Tuesday. Natalia told investigators during a 2014 interview that she is from Ukraine and was adopted through an agency in 2008. She also said she has not seen the Barnetts since they moved to Canada.
According to an affidavit, "Michael Barnett admitted Kristine Barnett told Natalia to tell others Natalia looked young but was actually 22." The New York Post reported that Michael also admitted to detectives that he knew Natalia was a minor when he and Kristine left the U.S.
However, an attorney for Michael told NBC News that his client, who plans to surrender Wednesday, insists that he and his ex-wife were victims of fraud during the adoption process and were led to believe that Natalia was a child.
Kristine told WISH-TV that Natalia was diagnosed as a sociopath and a psychopath, and also claimed that Natalia is an adult who was between the ages of 18 and 22 at the time of adoption and presented herself as a minor. In a Facebook post, Kristine insisted that the allegations are "false charges."
The couple's story is eerily similar to the plot of 2009 movie, "The Orphan," in which a family adopts a child who turns out to be a murderous adult who suffers from dwarfism.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Kristine said that Natalia was dangerous and tried to kill her adopted family.
Things were immediately amiss when the couple brought Natalia home, Krisine told the outlet, claiming that Natalia had an expansive vocabulary for a girl her age and an active menstrual cycle.
Conflicting doctors' reports regarding Natalia's have also added to the confusion. Upon adoption, a doctor estimated her age at approximately 8 years old. Two years later, however, another doctor estimated that Natalia was approximately 11 years old.
Kristine also said that Natalia began threatening her new family after the adoption and tried to poison Kristine and push her into an electric fence. She added that the family took Natalia to a psychiatric hospital for help, where doctors diagnosed her with significant mental illness. During treatment, Natalia reportedly admitted her real age.
A doctor's report later found that Natalia is actually an adult. The report stats that she has reportedly "made a career of perpetuating her age façade" and has been successful in deceiving others about her real age.
Kristine told the Daily Mail that after Natalia received treatment, she helped the girl get on her feet with a social security number and sources of state assistance. The girl was reportedly evicted from an apartment in 2014 and went on to pose as a child for another family, Kristine said.
In 2016, an unnamed couple reportedly attempted to adopt Kristine, but the Barnetts filed an objection, saying that the adoption was a farce because Natalia is an adult — not a child. The unnamed couple reportedly dropped the guardianship petition, Kristine told the outlet.