Why did the Barnetts suspect that Natalia Grace wasn’t really 6 years old?
The day after they adopted Natalia, Michael says in the series, Kristine went to give the girl a bath and screamed when she saw that Natalia had pubic hair. Michael says he searched online whether that was possible, and read that pubic hair could start to appear on a girl as young as 8. But, he continues, he and his wife figured that this was a child who obviously needed love and compassion and it didn’t matter if she was a little older than they were told.
(Natalia said on Dr. Phil in 2019 that she was 8 years old, “maybe almost 9,” when the Barnetts adopted her.)
A few months later, Natalia told them that she’d been having periods and hiding the evidence, Michael says. A family friend heard in an audio recording says Kristine had found stained socks that Natalia had used as sanitary pads and then thrown out the window. “She said, ‘This isn’t normal, what have I gotten myself into?'” the friend recalls. “And so I said, ‘You need to start finding out how old she is.'”
Kimberly Franklin, Michael’s younger sister, recalls in the series hearing that the Barnetts had found “period underwear” hidden in Natalia’s room.
Also within the first few months of adopting Natalia, the Barnetts arranged for a play date with Elva Reyes‘ daughter, Therese, who had the same kind of rare dwarfism and was also 6 years old.
As Elva and Therese, now 14, recall on the show, it was pretty apparent to them—pointing to pictures of the girls taken in 2010— that Therese and Natalia were not the same age.