A woman purporting to be Natalia Barnett's birth mother is speaking out against the Barnett family's allegations that the Ukrainian-born Natalia is actually an adult who suffers serious mental and emotional dysfunction.
Anna Volodymyrivna Gava, who tells the Daily Mail that she is Natalia's birth mother, insists that Natalia is a child, and that the Barnetts are lying through their teeth.
Kristine and Michael Barnett — who are now divorced — are facing felony charges of neglect of a dependent after reportedly abandoning Natalia and fleeing to Canada.
The couple says that they did not abandon Natalia, who they said is an adult scam artist and not a child at all.
According to a court document, Natalia, who suffers from dwarfism, went to live with the couple in 2010. Two years after her adoption, the Barnetts changed Natalia's age to 22 in a probate court before they left the U.S.
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.
Both parties insist that they were led to believe they were adopting a child.
Kristine told a local news outlet that Natalia was diagnosed as a sociopath and a psychopath who presented herself as a minor for adoption. Kristine has insisted that Natalia was dangerous and attempted to harm her adopted family on numerous occasions. The couple's story is strikingly similar to 2009 movie, "The Orphan," a film in which a family adopts a child who turns out to be a murderous adult who suffers from dwarfism.
A doctor's report on Natalia's condition has determined that she is actually an adult.
You can read more on the background here.
Gava told the outlet that she was forced to give up the child for adoption 16 years ago when the child was born. The outlet reports that there is documented proof that Natalia was an infant when Gava gave her up all those years ago.
Gava said she and her husband had to give the child up for adoption because of her disabilities.
"Daughter, forgive me for what happened 16 years ago. Visit soon for me to see you," Gava told the Daily Mail. "We are waiting for you. You have two sisters and two brothers."
Gava said that she turned Natalia over to an orphanage in 2003, where she remained until the Barnetts adopted her.
"[They told me] there are good people in America, they will pay for everything, the child will be normal," she said. "I was told that they would do her a surgery which I wouldn't be able to afford. They said the surgery was some $80,000."
Natalia is now reportedly living with a pastor and his family in Indiana as the story continues to unfold.