The adopted daughter of two parents who have been accused of abandoning her in Lafayette and moving to Canada in 2013 denied accusations on a Dr. Phil episode aired Thursday that she has a mental illness, was older than she said she was and attempted to harm the parents multiple times.
Michael and Kristine Barnett have accused Natalia Grace, who has a form of dwarfism, of attempting to poison them, standing over them with knives while they slept and trying to push Kristine into an electric fence, among other things. They have also said that Natalia lied about her age to convince them she was a child. Natalia said on the show none of that was true.
She was accompanied on the show by Cynthia and Antwon Mans, who said she has now lived with them for almost seven years. Antwon said in that time she never acted out of the ordinary.
“She behaved as a normal child would,” he said. “She did not display any psychotic behavior.”
Cynthia Mans said she thinks the Barnetts abandoned Natalia because they didn't want to deal with the surgeries she required because she has dwarfism. She said she believes Kristine tried to discredit Natalia with “mental instability” and re-aged her when she couldn't.
Natalia said she was 6 when she first came to the United States from Ukraine, and that she is currently 16. Adoption papers produced on the show say she was born in 2003. The Barnetts had her age legally changed to 22 before they left her in Lafayette, and Natalia said Kristine told her to tell people she was 22. She told the Mans family so when they first met her.
In court documents, Natalia said she lived in an apartment by herself for a year. On the show Thursday, she and the Mans family said she lived in two apartments by herself before she moved in with them. They said she lived mostly off of prepared food the Barnetts provided her with before they left.
In response to accusations from Kristine Barnett that Natalia was an adult with adult teeth and a menstrual cycle when she lived with them, Antwon Mans said Natalia is still growing and has lost teeth in the past seven years. He said she has not had a period in that time.
Natalia said after bouncing around homes and having her age changed, she feels she was robbed of her childhood. She said she wants people to see her for who she is.
“I don’t want people to see me as what (the Barnetts) have been saying I am,” Natalia said. “I want them to see me.”
The Mans family and Natalia did not say whether they have adopted Natalia, whether she goes to school or how they met.
Antwon Mans posted a GoFundMe for Natalia seven days ago.
“My daughter Natalia has a passion for photography and we want to see her happy,” the bio on the GoFundMe page reads.
The GoFundMe had raised $290 of a $5,000 goal as of Thursday afternoon.