Kristine Barnett

Mom Claims Adopted Daughter Pretended To Be A Child And Tried To Kill Her

They often say that truth is stranger than fiction, but it must be even stranger when a story from a movie seemingly unfolds in real life.

And when someone claims their bizarre situation is reminiscent of such a story, it becomes a sort of double-edged sword for them. On one hand, it gives people a handy frame of reference for some seriously complex circumstances. On the other hand, it might seem a little too handy and make other less likely to believe them.

But while the story we're going to discuss today features a whirlwind of opposing claims, the facts behind those claims are about to be determined in court.

Before she took on a more complicated reputation, 45-year-old Kristine Barnett was known as an acclaimed author and parent.

Facebook | Kristine Barnett

As NBC News reported, her son Jacob, who lives with autism, was discovered to be a promising math and physics prodigy.

Her book The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism served as Barnett's memoir of raising him and as a tale of embracing neurodiversity as a parent.

Shortly before the world became aware of Jacob's gifts, however, Barnett and her now ex-husband Michael would adopt a daughter.

Kristine Barnett

As NBC News reported, the girl in question, Natalia, had immigrated from Ukraine in 2008 and medical records from June 2010 said she has a form of dwarfism and stated her age as eight years old.

So when Natalia was left alone in a Lafayette, Indiana apartment while the rest of Barnett's family moved to Canada, authorities suspected felony neglect.

Reddit | dcnassau

And when the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department stated that Michael had admitted to legally changing Natalia's age from eight to 22, it seemed to confirm the couple's culpability for prosecutors.

However, Barnett would eventually respond with an unexpected defense.

Facebook | Kristine Barnett

Namely, that she and Michael were victims of fraud because, as they claimed, Natalia was actually 22 years old and pretending to be a child when she had joined their family.

Barnett said she first became suspicious that Natalia was older than she appeared when she gave her a bath.

Reddit | [deleted]

As she told The Daily Mail, this was because she discovered the supposedly prepubescent Natalia had already grown full pubic hair.

She also claimed to have found bloody clothing in the trash, which suggested that Natalia was having her period and attempting to conceal the evidence of this.

This claim was supported by her family doctor, Andrew McLaren, who found Natalia had the bone density of someone aged 14 or older.

Reddit | timdawgv98

So rather than changing her age to 22, the Barnetts maintain they were correcting it.

They said they did this so Natalia could receive the appropriate mental health treatment for an adult.

Kristine Barnett

Barnett further claimed that Natalia had poured bleach into her coffee and admitted to attempting to poison her, as well as pushing her towards an electric fence and threatening to stab her and Michael in their sleep.

Barnett said she would have to hide all sharp objects from Natalia and that she was caught standing over her family members in the middle of the night.

Reddit | LUClEN

As Barnett told The Daily Mail, "She would make statements and draw pictures saying she wanted to kill family members, roll them up in a blanket and put them in the backyard."

Despite this apparently hostile situation, however, Barnett said Natalia's behavior was not the reason the family left for Canada.

Reddit | YM_Industries

Instead, the reason was to further Jacob's education as he would then be within range to attend the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.

The former couple's version of the events may start to resemble the plot of the 2009 movie Orphan for some.

YouTube | Caitlyn Keefer

If you're unfamiliar with the 2009 thriller, it told the story of an apparently precocious little girl named Esther who spends the movie tormenting her adopted family.

As the movie reaches its climax, it is revealed that Esther only appears nine-years-old due to a rare hormonal disorder, but is actually a 33-year-old woman with a history of violence.

And the similarity between this situation and that movie is not lost on Barnett.

YouTube | hugob00s100

As she told The Daily Mail, "The movie Orphan is exactly what happened. She would make statements and draw pictures saying she wanted to kill family members, roll them up in a blanket and put them in the backyard."

She went on to say, "The media is painting me to be a child abuser but there is no child here."

Barnett maintained that the state of Indiana is charging her for crimes against a child despite recognizing that Natalia isn't one.

Instagram | @kristinebarnett

Nonetheless, The Daily Mail reported that both Michael and Kristine Barnett have surrendered to police.

Michael was released after getting his mugshot taken and posting a $5,000 bail on September 18, while Kristine was released after posting a $5,500 bond a day later.

Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office

Michael is scheduled to appear at Tippecanoe Superior Court in Lafayette on September 24.

h/t: NBC News, Daily Mail