Parents Accused of Abandoning Adopted Child


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Parents Accused of Abandoning Adopted Child

Michael and Kristine Barnett face charges for neglect of a dependent after a five-year investigation.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Parents from central Indiana are accused of leaving an adopted child alone in an apartment and moving to Canada. The girl may have been just 9 or 10 years old at the time of the alleged abandonment and has a form of dwarfism.

According to court documents in Tippecanoe County, Michael Barnett, 43, and his now ex-wife Kristine Barnett, 45, face a pair of felony charges for neglect of a dependent.

Though both parents have addresses in Indianapolis, investigators say they left the girl at an apartment on North 11th Street in Lafayette between July 2013 and February 2016, then moved to Canada within the next 30 days.

According to the girl, they haven’t seen her since, leaving her alone in an unfamiliar city and only paying her rent.

Court documents say the couple had adopted the girl three years earlier in 2010, two years after she came from the Ukraine through a different adoption. Beyond that, it’s unclear how she made it to the United States and if the Barnetts had anything to do with it.

Medical records in 2010 show a doctor estimated her age to be 8 years old.

In 2012, her age was legally changed from 8 to 22 in an Indiana probate court, a process which is unclear. It’s the same year a skeletal survey at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital estimated her age to be 11 years old.

The girl has a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal that could make an exact age difficult to determine.

According to court documents, Michael admitted he believed the girl to be a minor when he and Kristine left the country.

News 8 has learned Michael and Kristine filed for divorce in 2014 in Marion County, seven months after allegedly abandoning the girl in Lafayette. Their divorce became final in 2018.

News 8 went to the house on the far east side near East 16th Street and Post Road listed as the home of Kristine Barnett aka Kristine Pearson. No one appeared to be home.

But at Michael’s home at West 63rd Street and Michigan Road, the people inside refused to answer the door.

News 8 reached out to Kristine on Facebook. She claimed to not know about the charges, said the situation with the girl was “complicated” and claimed the girl was diagnosed as both a psychopath and sociopath.

She said the adoption was a “scam” and the girl is actually an adult and has been an adult the entire time she’s known her, but refused to provide additional details.

The neglect in this case covers a timespan ending Feb. 28, 2016, when the girl moved out of Tippecanoe County. Exactly 15 days later, a different couple petitioned to become guardians for the girl. News 8 has determined the Barnetts filed an objection and the case references an age issue.

The petition was dismissed almost two years later in January 2018 when the second couple changed their minds, but there’s no mention of why.

(Photo courtesy of WISH-TV)

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