A mother who is accused of abandoning her adopted daughter has claimed the “child” is actually a 22-year-old adult.
Kristine Barnett and her now ex-husband Michael Barnett adopted a Ukrainian girl who has dwarfism in 2010.
Hospital records stated the girl was eight years old at the time.
Last week, prosecutors in the US state of Indiana charged the couple with abandoning their daughter in 2013 and moving to Canada, leaving the girl, then 11, in a rented apartment and with no financial support.
When a detective spoke to Mr Barnett earlier this month, he said he and his wife had the girl’s age legally changed to 22 in June of 2012 and that his wife had told her to tell anyone who asked that she “looks young but was actually 22.”
Barnett told the detective that he and his wife rented an apartment in Lafayette in July 2013 and, despite knowing that the child knew no one in that city, they left her there and moved to Canada, investigators wrote in the affidavit.
However, now the mother has hit back at her arrest, launching an extraordinary defence in which she claims their daughter wasn’t a child at all, and displayed behaviour that could only have been that of an adult.
“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,” Ms Barnett told DailyMailTV.
“The media is painting me to be a child abuser but there is no child here.
“She was a woman. She had periods. She had adult teeth. She never grew a single inch, which would happen even with a child with dwarfism.
“The doctors all confirmed she was suffering a severe psychological illness only diagnosed in adults.
“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.
Mrs Barnett also describes one day she was giving her daughter a bath and noticed she had “full pubic hair”.
According to the Daily Mail, court documents from June 2012 show a judge ruled in favour of the couple’s appeal to have their child’s age changed and amended the girl’s birth date to September 4, 1989.
However, it is also claimed that doctors who carried out bone density tests on the girl in June 2010 concluded she was around 10 years old.
The Barnetts were arrested on Wednesday and have been released on bail.
The case has drawn attention from across the globe, with interest fuelled by its eery similarities to the horror film Orphan.
The affidavit leaves a lot unclear, including how long the girl lived alone in the apartment before her plight was discovered and why an investigation that apparently began in September of 2014 took years to result in charges against the Barnetts.
It also doesn’t say where in Canada the Barnetts lived or whether they have since returned to the U.S., though the Barnetts have different addresses listed in Indianapolis.
Prosecutors only said in response to questions that they had asked a county judge to issue an order for the Barnetts to appear at an initial hearing on the charges.
In 2012, the Barnetts appeared on 60 Minutes for a story about their then 13-year-old son Jake, who has Asperger’s syndrome.
The segment looked at how Jake, with the help of his parents, was studying physics at Purdue University in Indianapolis despite once being told he may never be able to read.
It appeared to show the then-couple’s adopted daughter sitting at the dinner table with them.
Ms Barnett also published a book around the same time the segment aired titled: “The Spark: A mother’s story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism”.
Her book looks at how Jake developed physics theories before he was 10 and how his parents raised him.