Biological mother of 'adopted child' who was actually 22-year-old woman has been tracked down
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The biological mother of Natalia Grace, the ‘adopted child’ who actually turned out to be a 22-year-old woman, has been tracked down in a new documentary – with her comments thickening the plot even further about what her real age may be.
However, as time went on, it transpired that she wasn’t who she said she was - with the Barnetts saying she was secretly an adult attempting to harm their family.
The bizarre story has become the subject of a brand new documentary, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, which explores the Barnetts’ accusations of their adoptive daughter being a fraudulent 'adult sociopath masquerading as a child'.
After realising they’d been ‘living with a sociopath’, the family filed a motion in Indiana's Marion County Court for her case to be heard, with Michael saying in the series that the aim was to ‘have her age corrected to something more appropriate’.
Natalia – who has a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia – was eventually re-aged in 2012 by a judge, who determined she was 22.
She was given a new birth certificate with a date of birth of 4 September 1989, along with a new Indiana I.D.
Legal expert Beth Karas explains: “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'.”
While Karas says re-aging is ‘not unusual’ with adoption, she says Natalia’s new age still doesn’t quite ‘make sense’ to her.
“It does happen in international adoptions,” she continues.
“A couple of years might be shaved off the age of the child because it’s more attractive to adoptive families, the younger the child is. At least, that’s the belief.
"So, all I can buy are a couple of years, right? Like, she’s not really eight, she’s 10 or 11 or something. But to jump 14 years to 22? It doesn’t make sense.”
However, things get murkier still when we see an investigator tracking down Natalia’s birth mother, Anna Gava, in Terniva, Ukraine, back in 2020.
The investigator meets Anna’s sister Tatyana, asking where her sibling is.
Tatyana then calls Anna, who can angrily be heard shouting down the phone: “My God, why can’t they leave me alone?
“I do not want to talk to anybody.”
She adds: “It is 17 years, they are all going here and there to me.”
Given that the conversation happened in 2020 – a whole decade after the Barnetts adopted Natalia, Karas points out that this could indicate Natalia was 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.”
The Curious Case of Natalia Grace has been airing for three consecutive nights on Investigation Discovery, from 29 May.