Natalia Grace Confronts Michael Barnett in ‘Natalia Speaks’ Doc: WATCH

Natalia Grace Confronts Michael Barnett in ‘Natalia Speaks’ Doc: WATCH

Following the three-night run of The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, the Investigation Discovery (ID) docuseries recounting the unbelievably true story surrounding Michael and Kristine Barnett’s adoption of an adult who was accused of pretending to be a 6-year-old Ukrainian orphan, Natalia Grace is opening up in the all-new three-night special, Natalia Speaks.

In ET’s exclusive look at the upcoming special, Natalia asks the audience, “Do I look like a monster to you?”

The docuseries presents Natalia’s recount of what really happened to her after being adopted by the Barnetts and addresses the allegations the family made against her while she was still living with them.

In 2010, Michael and Kristine thought they had adopted a 6-year-old orphaned girl from Ukraine. Not realizing she had a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal, the Indiana couple became suspicious that their newest family member was not actually a child. In addition to claiming that Natalia showed physical signs of being much older than a toddler, the Barnetts accused her of trying to harm them and their children. During the two years Natalia lived with them, they claimed that she tried to poison Kristine and push Michael into an electric fence. 

Eventually, believing that she was, in fact, an adult, they had her legal age changed from 6 to 22. By 2013, the Barnett family moved to Canada and left Natalia behind in an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana. 

Michael and Kristine, who are now divorced, were eventually charged with abandoning Natalia before Michael was found not guilty of three counts of neglect and conspiracy to commit neglect of a dependent in 2022, while charges against Kristine were dropped in March 2023.

Although the former couple was eventually found not guilty, the Daily Mail reports that Natalia testified that she “sustained herself mostly on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ramen noodles and an occasional pizza. She said she had limited use of her hands and arms, and struggled to open canned food.”

According to the outlet, Natalia “was also forced to move to a second apartment after a year due to complaints about her disturbing behavior. Neighbors recounted seeing her struggling to take care of herself and recount in the documentary how they saw her wearing dirty clothing, scuffed shoes and stinking of body odor.”

After being abandoned, Natalia was eventually taken in by another couple, Bishop Antwon and Cynthia Manns, in 2014. In 2016, they applied to become her legal guardians, but were denied. They maintained that she was a teenager at the time and later spoke out during an episode of Dr. Phil, explaining that they didn’t experience the same allegations of abuse. 

Over the course of six parts, Natalia Speaks will retrace the adoption saga and the Barnetts’ allegations from Natalia’s perspective, offering insight into what went on behind closed doors in the Barnetts’ home. The special features previously unseen evidence and footage, as well as new theories and testimony from an array of voices, including the retired FBI agents who initially investigated Natalia’s case, genetic experts who helped determine Natalia’s true age, and the Tippecanoe County Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Starbuck who prosecuted Michael in his October 2022 trial.

In addition, the docuseries sheds light on Natalia’s next chapter, offering a portrait of her life with her new adoptive family and exclusive interviews with her adoptive parents. 

ET’s preview of the upcoming special provides a glimpse at the showdown between Natalia and Michael, as they sit face-to-face for the first time, with her adopted father serving as a mediator. Michael seemingly rebuffs Natalia’s line of questioning, adamant that she was “going to kill everybody,” before things get explosive, and he storms off, ripping off his mic. 

“I tried,” Michael cries as he bolts out of the house in tears. “Leave me alone!”

“I want the puzzle to be complete…” Natalia says in ET’s exclusive look. “I want to know the answers to these questions. And I want people to pay for what they have done.”

In the years since Natalia’s story became a national media sensation, the Orphan horror movies starring Vera Farmiga and Julia Stiles have loosely based a prequel on what supposedly happened during her time with the Barnett family. Additionally, Ellen Pompeo is set to star in an eight-part scripted Hulu series from executive producer Katie Robbins and showrunner Erin Levy. Pompeo will portray Kristine, while Imogen Reid will portray Natalia.

Natalia Speaks will premiere Jan. 1, 2024 on Investigation Discovery.


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