Where is Natalia Grace today? Her life in a new home

Natalia Grace

In a trailer for The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, Michael Barnett warns viewers that they may not like what the docu-series reveals. “You’re gonna get the truth,” Barnett says. “I will pre-warn you; you might not like the truth.” The truth has so far proved elusive: the Barnetts claim Natalia Grace is an adult con artist posing as a child; Natalia alleges she is a disabled child searching for a loving home. 

Natalia Grace is living with her new adoptive family in Indiana

Natalia Grace lives under the care of Anton and Cynthia Mans, a Christian couple in Indiana. She met Antwon and Cynthia a year after the Barnetts abandoned her in a Lafayette apartment and moved to Canada. 

Anton and Cynthia Mans
Courtesy of Cynthia Antwon Mans/Facebook

Natalia said in court a month after her lease expired, she hobbled down the street and knocked on a door. She stated she was surprised when the occupants welcomed her. Natalia met Cynthia Mans through the stranger who welcomed her in, she testified. 

The Ukraine native said she and Cynthia became fast friends. Several days later, she moved in with Antwon and Cynthia as a tenant paying $250 monthly. Eventually, Antwon and Cynthia ‘adopted’ Natalia. 

In 2016, Antwon and Cynthia applied to become Natalia’s legal guardians. To succeed, they needed to prove that Natalia was a minor. The Barnetts had convinced the Marion County Superior Court to ‘correct’ Natalia’s age from 2003 to 1989, altering her status from child to adult. 

A judge at Tippecanoe Circuit Court ordered a new hearing to establish Natalia’s age. “Natalia was living on her own and a couple wanted to become her guardians. Thinking she was still a child, the couple tried to overturn the 2012 result,” Michael’s attorney, Terrence Kinnard, told Daily Mail TV. Kinnard added:

“This time the hearing was even more in depth, not only did the judge look at medical reports and other documents, but witnesses came before the court to explain why they were certain Natalia had been 22. The judge upheld the original results and the couple dropped the guardianship petition.”

Despite the petition’s failure, Antwon and Cynthia have continued caring for Natalia, who claimed the couple taught her basic life skills like reading, writing, and math. Photos on Cynthia’s Facebook page show Natalia has fully integrated into the Mans family. 

Antwon and Cynthia believe Natalia is a child. In an episode of Dr. Phil, Cynthia held Natalia’s hand as she narrated her ordeal. In court, Kinnard tried to paint Antwon and Cynthia as opportunists seeking to profit from Natalia’s disability payments. 

Natalia’s birth mother pleaded for her to return to Ukraine

Natalia is enjoying life under the Mans, a friend told The Daily Mail. “The Mans care for Natalia and she likes being there,” the anonymous friend said. “There’s nothing crazy going on or anything.”

The insider stated that the Mans believe Natalia is a minor. “They just so happened to come across this person that was not being treated right and cared enough to put in the effort to make sure something was done about it,” they added. 

However, Natalia’s future may lie elsewhere. According to The Daily Mail, Natalia’s birth mother, Anna Volodymrivna Gava, wants her daughter to return home. Gava said her parents and doctor advised her to abandon Natalia as a child. She explained:

“I know exactly how old she is. This girl is my daughter who was born 16 years ago. Doctors told me to leave the baby: ‘Leave her, don’t ruin your life,’ they said. Both them and my mum told me to leave her. They said the baby would never be good, that she would never be able to move, that she would be chained to a chair or to a bed.”

Gava said she thought Natalia was thriving in the United States, only to learn that her adoptive family had abandoned her. She pleaded with Natalia to return home. “Daughter, forgive me for what happened 16 years ago,” she said. “Visit soon for me to see you. We are waiting for you. You have two sisters and two brothers.”

Natalia Grace parents
Nikos Frazier/Journal & Courier

Natalia’s adoptive parents were acquitted of neglect charges

Michael and his ex-wife, Kristine, consider themselves victims of fraud. They adopted Natalia, who suffers from a form of dwarfism, thinking they were taking home a six-year-old girl from Ukraine. With little time left to complete the adoption, Michael and Kristine didn’t question why Natalia’s previous adoptive family had suddenly given her up. 

“Out of compassion for their situation I didn’t want to press them for information on what had gone wrong,” Kristine told Daily Mail TV. “Natalia was extremely nervous. You could see she was going to need a lot of support and care. We did notice immediately in the parking lot that she couldn’t walk. There was nothing in the paperwork stating that.”

Nevertheless, Michael and Kristine took Natalia home and showered her with love. As time went by, however, Kristine began noticing signs that Natalia was older than she claimed. Kristine said she noticed Natalia had pubic hair, hated playing with dolls, preferred older company and used vocabulary beyond her age. 

“I didn’t have any regrets,” Kristine said. “This is what I wanted to do. I felt overwhelming love for her.” 

The family physician ordered bone density tests, concluding that Natalia was no older than 14. Kristine said Natalia’s behavior started deteriorating after they questioned her age. She stated that Natalia tried to kill her by poisoning her and pushing her into an electric fence. Natalia allegedly stood over family members at night holding a knife. 

“The doctors all confirmed she was suffering a severe psychological illness only diagnosed in adults,” Kristine said. “She was jumping out of moving cars. She was smearing blood on mirrors. She was doing things you could never imagine a little child doing.”

Fearing for their lives and convinced Natalia was an adult, the Barnetts changed her birth year and left her in a Lafayette apartment. Authorities charged Kristine and Michael with neglect and conspiracy charges. It took a jury two hours to acquit Michael. “I can breathe,”  he said. In March 2023, the prosecution dropped the case against Kristine.