explainer

Kristine was charged with abandoning her adopted daughter. She claims she's a 22yo scammer.

Did Kristine Barnett really leave her adopted eight-year-old daughter behind when she moved to a different country? Or is her daughter, who has a form of dwarfism, really an adult psychopath who scammed her?

The story of the Barnetts’ daughter has hit the headlines in the US, with Kristine and her ex-husband Michael recently being charged with neglect. But right now, there are a lot more questions than answers.

The Indiana couple already had three sons when they adopted a daughter in 2010. According to the Daily Mail, the couple flew to Florida at very short notice for the “emergency adoption”. They were told the girl was Ukrainian and six years old. She had supposedly been in the US for two years, but the couple who originally adopted her had given her up.

“Out of compassion for their situation I didn’t want to press them for information on what had gone wrong,” Barnett told the Daily Mail.

The Barnetts took the girl in, ready to treat her as one of the family. But almost immediately, Barnett says she became suspicious that the girl was older than she had been told. She says she had full pubic hair and a sophisticated vocabulary. The girl also had spondyloepiphyseal, a form of dwarfism.

Five-year-old Floyd Henry also has dwarfism. Watch is his story on 60 Minutes Australia. Post continues after video. 

Video by 60 Minutes

“The media is painting me to be a child abuser but there is no child here,” Barnett says.

By 2011, Barnett claims the girl was making death threats and began receiving treatment for psychiatric disorders. The following year, the couple had their daughter’s age legally changed from eight to 22. However, court documents state that a skeletal survey done by the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in that same year estimated the girl was 11.

By this time, another one of Barnett’s children was attracting national media attention. Jake had been diagnosed with autism when he was young, but by the age of 12, he was attending college and being called a child prodigy. He was featured on 60 Minutes. In 2013, Barnett published a memoir, The Spark: A Mother’s Story Of Nurturing, Genius And Autism.

That same year, the Barnetts moved the family to Canada, where Jake continued his studies in physics. But they left behind their adopted daughter, who they had set up in a rented apartment.

Michael and Kristine Barnett on 60 Minutes. Image: 60 Minutes.
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In 2016, another couple petitioned to become guardians for the girl. But, according to Indiana’s WISH TV, the Barnetts filed an objection, based on age. The other couple eventually changed their minds.

Earlier this month, the Barnetts, who divorced several years ago, were charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent.

When WISH TV contacted Barnett to talk to her about the charges, she described the girl as “a diagnosed psychopath and sociopath”. She said the adoption was “a scam”, and that the girl had been an adult all along.

As other media have begun covering the story, Barnett has hit back on Facebook, taking issue with a story in the Washington Post.

“I am sick and devastated from the idea of any of these charges and maintain that they are false charges,” she wrote. “Friends and family you decide if what you are reading is real or fake for yourselves.”

No doubt that there’s a lot more to this story. As a law enforcement officer told WLFI, “This is going to end up on a TV show.”

Feature Image: Indigo.

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