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Natalia Grace responds to ‘proof’ she was secretly a 22-year-old woman

Jess Hardiman

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Natalia Grace responds to ‘proof’ she was secretly a 22-year-old woman

Featured Image Credit: Investigation Discovery

Natalia Grace Barnett – the girl who was thought to be an adult posing as a child after being adopted by a US couple – has responded to the supposed ‘proof’ that she was actually a 22-year-old woman.

The bizarre story is a case that has baffled the world over the past few years, having even become the subject of a wild docu-series earlier this year.

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It followed what happened after Ukrainian Natalia was adopted by Michael and Kristine Barnett in 2010, with the couple told she was a six-year-old child with a rare bone growth disorder.

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However, the Barnetts later claimed she was an adult posing as a juvenile, eventually getting a judge to legally re-age her as a 22-year-old woman in 2012.

Natalia has now spoken out herself, sharing her side of the story in a follow-up docuseries, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks, which premieres on 1 January.

Pubic hair

In the first season, we heard how the Barnetts were shocked to find Natalia had pubic hair, having made the discovery while bathing her for the first time.

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They took this as clear evidence that she was older than she said she was, but Natalia claims their version of events wasn’t necessarily how things went down.

Michael - who also has biological kids of his own - had previously said the first warning sign came when they got back to the hotel after picking up their new daughter.

Michael Barnett. Credit: Investigation Discovery
Michael Barnett. Credit: Investigation Discovery

"Kristine’s going to give our brand new daughter a bath, and I hear a shout from the bathroom,” he said.

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“This was a, ‘I’m not playing around, come here right now, Michael’ shout.

“I get up and go flying to the bathroom, and the colour’s almost gone from her face. It’s almost like she’s seen a ghost. She’s truly frightened and she just doesn’t know what she’s seeing or what’s going on.

“She says, 'Michael, look. Look down'.

“And Natalia had full pubic hair. And I don’t know what you think. Is that possible? Is that even possible? Who the f**k is this person?”

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But the Barnetts’ claims didn’t match how Natalia remembers it.

“Kristine gave me a bath - she never mentioned anything to me about pubic hair or anything like that,” she said in the new documentary.

Natalia Grace's adoptive parents were alarmed when they saw she had pubic hair. Credit: Investigation Discovery
Natalia Grace's adoptive parents were alarmed when they saw she had pubic hair. Credit: Investigation Discovery

“Like, I didn’t know what that even was, nobody explained anything like that to me. I was six, about to be seven - like, I didn’t know.

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“I don’t know why they've said what they said. I don’t remember Michael ever coming in to the bathroom. I honestly don’t.

“I just remember Kristine helping me get dressed and then we were just getting ready to go to bed.

“I don’t remember her calling Michael or anything like that. I don’t remember Kristine doing anything like that.

“I just don’t understand why the Barnetts would say that I have pubic hair or anything like that because literally... I didn’t start noticing any hair until I was like seven, almost eight.

“But that doesn’t mean that I’m like this big monster. I was still a kid - some kids start early, you know. That’s just what happens.”

Periods

Michael had also claimed Natalia would ‘eat’ her own blood to cover up the fact she’d started her period – often another indicator of age.

He said she would ‘wipe’ the blood from her leg and ‘lick it’ so that ‘nobody ever finds out’.

But Natalia said his comments were ‘downright disgusting’, adding: “That’s crazy.

“I’m gonna tell you what really happened. I was seven years old and all of a sudden Kristine just tried to convince me that I was having my period.

“Kristine literally just said like, ‘You started your period,’ and then she forced me to put the tampon in.

“And then I literally just told her, ‘I can’t,’ like, ‘I can’t do it, it hurts.’

Natalia has claimed the Barnetts lied. Credit: Investigation Discovery
Natalia has claimed the Barnetts lied. Credit: Investigation Discovery

“But Kristine just kept telling me you need to put it in.

“She made me do it, but I couldn’t and she was mad - I remember that, I remember Kristine being mad because I couldn't do it, so when I was able to take it out there was blood on it because of the fact that I’m seven years old. I’m not even supposed to be having that right now.

“And she says, ‘See? You had your period,’ and I couldn't say anything about it.”

She added: “It hurt so bad because I was scared.”

Teeth

And it’s not just Natalia questioning some of the arguments the Barnetts made.

Dr Tim Gossweiler, who was Natalia’s dentist in 2011, said he remembers Kristine bringing the girl in and asking if there was a way they could find out her age by examining her teeth.

“Talking to Natalia, she looked like she was about seven, but she acted like she was much older,” he said.

“She would answer questions articulately - at seven years old you don’t see that all the time.

“I thought this girl can’t be seven years old. I can see why mom would think that after talking to her because she seemed very mature.”

However, from a biological perspective, Gossweiler found there was a different side to the story.

Dr Tim Gossweiler. Credit: Investigation Discovery
Dr Tim Gossweiler. Credit: Investigation Discovery

Holding up x-rays of Natalia’s teeth in 2011, he told the camera: “What I’m about to show you will be a definitive answer to how old Natalia was in 2011.

“We determined that she had 12 baby teeth remaining – three in each quadrant... It’s very simple to determine Natalia’s age, I mean there’s really no question when you take an x-ray like this.

"You’ve got baby teeth, adult teeth and there's a range that you have... that’s going to be... six to nine years old.

Credit: Investigation Discovery
Credit: Investigation Discovery

“This is way too many baby teeth to be an adult, it’s indisputable. You can’t fake teeth coming in like this.

“So when mom and Natalia left, mom knew Natalia was around eight or nine, which is right in the range of what she says she was.”

When he was told Natalia was legally re-aged by the Barnetts to 22, Gossweiler looked completely stunned.

He said: “Oh really? Wow. That's a big jump.

“Nothing in the x-ray that we took that showed she could be anywhere near 15 years older.

“Wow, that seems crazy.”

The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks premieres on Investigation Discovery on 1 January 2024.

Topics: Natalia Grace, TV And Film, Documentaries

Jess Hardiman
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