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Couple charged with abandoning Ukranian girl with dwarfism they adopted, amid claims she ‘always has been an adult’



An Indiana mom is publicly denying allegations she changed her adopted daughter’s age from 8 to 22 years old and left the Ukranian girl diagnosed with dwarfism to fend for herself.

In a new Facebook post Wednesday, Kristine Barnett said the daughter she allegedly abandoned in an apartment as the family moved to Canada was already an adult when Barnett and her ex-husband Michael Barnett adopted her in 2010 at the purported age of 6 years old.

Kristine said Indiana’s mental health system is the party to blame for any neglect.

“(She) is and always has been an adult in the time that I knew her, but that did not stop me from always seeking her best interest,” Kristine wrote in the Wednesday post ahead of a court hearing Friday.

Kristine described her adopted daughter as “mentally ill” and said she was praying for her.

“I am dismayed by the way that our mental health system treats people,” she said. “The state of Indiana actually discharged (her) into a halfway house over a year before this, making her homeless and mentally ill.”

Kristine and Michael were formally charged Sept. 11 with felony neglect of a dependent in Tippecanoe County.

According to court filings, the couple adopted the Ukrainian girl with dwarfism in June 2010, believing she was about 8 years old.

Medical tests on the girl’s bone structure in 2010 estimated her age as 8, and a second test in 2012 estimated she was 11, according to the records obtained by The Lafayette Journal & Courier.

The couple allegedly petitioned the court to change the girl’s age to 22 in June 2012, the newspaper reported. It’s not clear what exactly happened with the petition because records of such proceedings are not public.

The girl lived with the couple and their three sons for about two years in the family’s home in Hamilton County — just outside Indianapolis — before she was transferred to a rented apartment, authorities say.

“She was left alone in the apartment in Lafayette while the rest of the Barnett family moved to Canada,” investigators wrote in an affidavit, claiming the girl had not seen her adoptive parents since.

In Facebook messages sent to WISH-TV, Kristine reportedly claimed the adoption was a “scam” and her daughter was a diagnosed sociopath and psychopath.

Kristine is the author of the 2013 book, “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius and Autism,” a memoir about the discovery that her autistic son Jacob was a physics prodigy.

“I have been trying my whole life to show that children with disabilities are precious children with beautiful minds who are capable and here for a purpose,” she wrote in her Facebook post Wednesday.

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