What Happened To Natalia Grace?

In 2010, a married Indiana couple named Michael and Kristine Barnett welcomed a new addition to their family, a girl named Natalia Grace (via CNN). Grace, who has a rare genetic condition called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, which causes dwarfism, was born in Ukraine and came to the U.S. for adoption. She was just 6 years old at the time and looked set to join the Barnetts' three biological sons in being raised in a safe and loving home.

But the story of the Barnetts' adoption of Grace took an unexpected and headline-making turn in 2012 when the Barnetts reportedly came to believe that Natalia wasn't who she said she was at all. They came to believe that Grace was actually a 22-year-old woman who had conned them into believing she was a child. The family legally changed her age before leaving her to fend for herself in an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana, and relocating to Canada in 2013. Luckily, she was able to find another family to take her in.

The Manses welcomed Natalia into their home

Natalia Grace found herself in a vulnerable position when she was left to fend for herself in 2013 — whether a child or adult, she was left to contend with the challenges of her disability alone. However, Grace was fortunate enough to soon make contact with another couple, Antwon and Cynthia Mans, who were introduced to their new neighbor through a friend who had struck up a conversation with her in the street, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Grace — who claims that this was actually the second time the Barnetts had made her live alone despite her disability — formed a fast connection with the Mans, and within days she was living with them, paying $250 a month rent. The Mans took loving care of Grace, teaching her to read, write, and count, and have brought her up ever since becoming her legal guardians. The Barnetts weren't the first American family to adopt Grace, but based on the loyalty the Mans family has shown toward her in public since her story broke, it seems that the Ukrainian now has a loving home for life.

She has told her side of the story

Accusations made by the Barnetts against Natalia Grace didn't just concern her age (per In Touch). The family also cast doubt over whether their adopted daughter was actually Ukrainian and claimed that she threatened to kill them (per Oprah Daily). In the years since, Grace has made efforts to clear her name and prove that she was in fact a child when the Barnetts abandoned her and left for Canada.

In 2019, Michael Barnett was put on trial on four charges relating to neglect of a dependent, during which time the Mans testified that Grace was indeed a child when she was abandoned, and the idea that she was somehow dangerous was a fabrication (the charges were later dismissed, per the Journal & Courier). In an appearance on "Dr. Phil," Grace and the Mans discussed the possibility that the Barnetts' story may have been inspired by the 2009 horror movie "Orphan," in which a 9-year-old adoptee turns out to be an adult serial killer.

One major revelation that has emerged through Grace's recent bout of media exposure involves a DNA test that she undertook to verify her actual age. As shown in the ID documentary series "The Curious Case of Natalia Grace," the test confirmed Grace is currently in her early 20s, and that she was therefore a child when the Barnetts abandoned her in a Lafayette apartment in 2013, per The Messenger. This result mirrors the findings of a dentist who examined Grace in 2013 and discovered that she still retained a number of her baby teeth at the time and was therefore likely under the age of 10.