Listen Live

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — It’s been a week since two parents who are accused of adopting a a Ukrainian girl and then abandoning her in Lafayette bonded out of jail. 

Michael Barnett and his ex-wife Kristine said the girl was actually an adult and that they are victims of an adoption scam because the girl they adopted is was able to masquerade as a child because of her rare for a dwarfism.

The Barnetts face criminal charges of neglect for dropping her off at an apartment in Lafayette and them moving to Canada.

Margaret Axsom, who lived next door to the girl, said it’s been several years but she still remembers her suddenly disappearing. Axsom said she never found out where she went.

“She lived in the next house,” Axsom said to WISH-TV. “She lived upstairs, right next door.”

Last week, Michael’s attorney Terrance Kinnard disputed the neglect charge. Kristine has declined to be interviewed but has provided unverified documents supporting her side.

Axsom met the Barnetts’ daughter at the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy, also known as LARA. Axsom said they were students together and were also friends.

As far as her friend’s age, Axsom said she was “old enough to go to LARA. She had to be over 18.” 

According to WLFI-TV the Barnetts’ adopted daughter attended the Excel Center, a school which helps adults and older youth. At the time, she was legally at least 23 years old. She was there four days before employees contacted the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office, but the Excel Center would not comment further.

Axsom said, she is glad the parents are in trouble with the law, even if the girl was an adult when the adopted her.

“You do not adopt a kid and go to Canada. I think they have to be punished,” she said.