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The biological mum of ‘adopted child’ Natalia Grace – who was legally re-aged after it was determined she was a 22-year-old woman – has spoken out about her daughter’s real age.

Ukrainian Natalia Grace was adopted by Michael and Kristine Barnett back in 2010, believing she was a six-year-old child with a rare bone growth disorder.

Over time, it emerged that she actually has a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal, and was not a child at all, with a judge determining she was an adult woman aged 22.

Natalia Grace.
Investigation Discovery

The bizarre story is now the subject of a new Investigation Discovery documentary, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, which features interviews with family members, former neighbours and friends.

We find out that Natalia was re-aged by a judge in 2012 after the Barnetts filed a motion in Marion County Court to ‘have her age corrected to something more appropriate’.

Legal expert Beth Karas explains in the six-part series: “The judge had a petition prepared by an attorney that would lay out the arguments for why this person is not the age they believe she is – she is actually an adult.

“Nobody knows quite what age, but she has not grown in four years, so the judge came up with his own little formula: ‘Well, you stop growing at 18 – if she hasn’t grown in four years then she’s at least 18 when she entered their lives. And I’m gonna add four years'.

“He said, ‘Okay, I find you 22'.”

Natalia Grace was re-aged by a judge.
Investigation Discovery

However, later in the documentary, Natalia’s biological mother Anna Gava throws us a greater curveball yet.

In episode five, Gava is interviewed by police as part of a neglect of a dependent case against Michael Barnett and Kristine Barnett, and is required to prove she is the birth mother via DNA test.

Then, three years after proving they are related, she explains how she herself was born in 1979, before revealing her daughter’s date of birth.

“She was born on September 4th 2003,” Gava says.

“She was born at 6.25am in the Maternity Hospital No. 1. She is my biological daughter.”

Anna Gava speaks about Natalia's age in the new documentary.
Investigation Discovery

This would place Natalia's age today at 19 years and nine months.

She continues: “They showed her to me.

“The childbirth was difficult as well, very difficult. When I regained consciousness after anaesthesia, the next day the doctor came and said, ‘There is no sense to take her home.’

“They said that she won’t be able to walk at all, and she will be of very short stature. They said a surgery would cost $100,000, and since ‘you don’t have such finances’, you also have an older daughter – I already had Julia at the time and Natasha came after her...

“She brought me a sample of the waiver on the paper, and I had to write five copies of it.

“I didn’t initially want to leave her, but the doctors said there is nothing you could do for her.

“’You are so young,’ they said, ‘You are 24 years old. Don’t ruin your life, you will have other children.’”

She proved she was Natalia's birth mother via DNA test.
Investigation Discovery

Anna admits she feels sad that she ‘listened to the doctors and left her instead of keeping her’.

Unpacking Gava’s comments, Karas says: “Anna Gava was born in 1979, which means she would have been 10 years old if Natalia was born in 1989, as the courts ruled when they re-aged her.

“So there aren’t a lot of good reasons, besides seeing pubic hair on her, to believe she was born anytime before 2003.”

Earlier on in the docu-series, we also saw Gava tracked down by an investigator in Ukraine in 2020.

At the time, Gava says via a phone call with her sister Tatyana: “It is 17 years, they are all going here and there to me.”

Karas points out that this could indicate Natalia was actually a child when she was adopted after all.

“This woman, Anna Gava, who is supposedly Natalia’s biological mother, just said she’s been going through this saga for 17 years,” she says.

“Well, she said that in 2020 – do the math: that means Natalia may really have been born in 2003, which is what she has said all along.”

Featured Image Credit: Investigation Discovery

Topics: Documentaries, TV And Film, Natalia Grace