This is one of those "you can't make this stuff up" kind of stories and will leave you in disbelief. A couple, widely known in the parenting community for raising a genius child and writing a book about it, have been charged for allegedly abandoned their adopted daughter and fleeing the country. But don't worry, they still paid her rent.
The investigation for this awful and peculiar case have been going on for five years at this point. Michael and Kristine Barnett became the adoptive parents of the young girl (whose name is not being revealed at this point) in 2010 after she came to the U.S. from the Ukraine through an adoption program in 2008, which was confirmed court documents obtained by WLFI News 18, ABC 7 Chicago, and Fox 59. During the time, it was reported that she was eight years old.
She lived with the couple for two years in Hamilton County, Indiana, along with their other two sons. Somehow, the couple changed her age, legally, in 2012. The young girl has spondyloepiphyseal, a form of swarfism, and Kristine reportedly told her to tell people that she simply “looks young” if questioned about her age, according to the legal documents.
Yes, it takes another turn from there.
In 2013, Kristine, 45, and Michael, 43, rented an apartment on North 11th Street in Lafayette in Tippecanoe County for the girl, and left her completely alone while they moved the rest of their family to Canada. After being interviewed by the police, the girl told them she “had not seen the Barnetts since they moved to Canada,” according to the court documents. The Barnett's only paid her rent, and did not give her any other type of financial assistance.
At some point over the course of the last five years, the child was enrolled at the Excel Center — a free tuition high school for adults, according to WLFI News 18. She then left Tippecanoe County in 2016. It was reported that on September 5th that the couple finally admitted to changing the girls age, but never came clean as to how they accomplished this.
At this point, the couple has been charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent, Fox 59 reported, but have not been arrested.
With the story going viral, Kristine took to Facebook to share her opinions about the claims happening in the media, saying, “I am sick and devastated from the idea of any of these charges and maintain that they are false charges. Friends and family you decide if what you are reading is real or fake for yourselves. I am having to come in here to confirm I am not arrested and my attorney states and has confirmed their is no warrant for my arrest.”
The author of The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism, she and her husband Michael, adopted the girl in 2010. So much of this story is still not known.