And the internet is utterly outraged.
Shock and anger have swept through online comment sections as news spread that influencer and YouTuber Myka Stauffer, who resides in Ohio with her family, with over 1 million followers between her personal YouTube channel and her family’s channel, recently rehomed her 4-year-old adopted, autistic son Huxley after raising him as her own for 2 years.
With her children regularly recurring in her online content, viewers began to notice quickly that precious little Huxley was no longer showing up in videos.
When viewers asked what was going on, a social media update was sent out, along with this Stauffer family video statement:
Comments for this video have been removed, following the backlash.
In the video, the parents say,
“Once Huxley came home, there was a lot more special needs that we weren’t aware of and that we were not told about.”
They went on to state,
“With international adoption, sometimes there are unknowns and things that are not transparent on files.”
Online users did not take this news well.
Following the online outcry, the Stauffer family’s lawyers clarified that Huxley had not been placed in the foster care system, but instead was, placed with a "hand-selected family who is equipped to handle Huxley’s needs."
This wasn’t their foster child — he was their legally adopted son.
Stauffer’s YouTube video, “Huxley’s EMOTIONAL Adoption VIDEO!! GOTCHA DAY China Adoption” garnered over 5.5 million views on YouTube.
Videos like the one above are only the tip of the content iceberg, but we’ll dig into that a bit further on.
Myka Stauffer and her husband committed to being this child’s parents.
They also committed to both publicizing and monetizing off of placing their children in the public eye, through regular, intimately personal YouTube videos.
And it seemed to be working out well for them, at first. The YouTube algorithm loves children — a child in a YouTube thumbnail? From a marketing perspective, that just floods in views.
So, when making a profit, this child was a good fit.
When the idea of raising a child with special needs was still shiny and felt good and noble, he was a good fit.
When he worked well into their family narrative, he was a good fit.
Until he just wasn’t anymore.
Was she exploiting his storyline for monetary gain?
More than anything, Myka Stauffer’s ethics are being brought into question by viewers, and by fellow YouTubers/influencers.
The journey leading up to the adoption had become a central theme in Stauffer’s content, causing a significant boost in views and subscribers.
The narrative of this process, as well as the years to follow when the adoption was completed, were a central theme in Stauffer’s YouTube content.
There are prospective parents who can get wrapped up in the starry-eyed possibility of adopting a child.
With a world full of children without parents, or a safe home to feel secure, those who adopt are truly and honestly superheroes.
That said, making the decision to adopt is not one to make lightly, in any way, shape or form. It is a massive responsibility, with plenty of unknowns in the air.
Regardless, already parents to several of their own biological children, Stauffer and her husband decided to adopt their son, Huxley, from China. They were informed before he arrived that he had special needs. While they admitted that, at first, they weren’t sure they could manage a child with special needs, they said that their hearts were softened and they decided to welcome him into their family regardless.
Many parents of either adoptive or autistic children have criticized the Stauffer family for addressing their own selfish desires to adopt at the expense of the child — if they had any doubts of their ability to care for a child with special needs, they should have been honest with themselves and let adoptive parents who were more suited and prepared for raising a child with disabilities take Huxley into their loving home.
From his initial arrival, Huxley started appearing in Stauffer’s YouTube videos. Data shows that by introducing Huxley into her videos, her views spiked. Viewers fell in love with him. Parents who were raising adopted and/or autistic children resonated with this family’s story and journey.
A child is a lifelong commitment.
“We would just say, ‘No we can’t handle all of that, we just want a simple adoption.’ But as we let the idea soak in, God softened our hearts,” Myka Stauffer wrote in a blog post. “Before we knew it, we were open to almost every special needs in the book.”
Plain and simple — Stauffer and her husband signed up for this.
Not just taking on the responsibility of raising a child with special needs, but also being a parent to this little boy.
In fact, they signed up for parenting, through the highs and the lows, years before adopting Huxley when they gave birth to their 4 biological children.
Users on the internet are having a hard time wrapping their brain around the concept of calling oneself a parent of a child for 2 years, only to rehome them when things got too tough.
There was further outrage when she stated, “he needed a higher level of care, and more 1:1 attention.”
Users were quick to point out that this YouTuber, as an influencer with a following of over 1 million people, was likely making a pretty penny from her YouTube videos. The kind of money that could finance the exact care her son needed — and that all earnings gained from featuring her adopted son should have gone directly to his care and needs.
Not even including the sponsorships Stauffer gained through publicizing her son’s life, as well.
Many of those same users begged the question — would she have rehomed one of her biological children if she found out one of them was diagnosed with autism? And if not, what made Huxley any different?
We don’t know the specific circumstances and challenges of this little boy’s autism. There were descriptions from the parents of biting and hitting incidents due to his sensory delays — but overall, the amount of what extra attention he required is unclear.
But what we do know is what has been publicly released by the former parents.
While it wasn’t just the mother’s choice alone to rehome their son (it was a joint decision with her husband, of course), Myka Stauffer is the one with the massive YouTube platform. She’s the one who put their adoptive son in so many of her videos.
And in my opinion? That’s just not right.
Viewers noticed his absence and asked questions, wondering where he’d gone — because they’d grown attached to him.
And many of these users were shocked and upset when the statement of why this child was rehomed ultimately boiled down to the situation just being too much of an inconvenience.
Imagine adopting a little boy from China who’s an orphan with special needs, taking him away from everything he knows, only to give him up and “rehome” him a few years later. Some of these YouTube families are actually shocking. #mykastauffer
My heart aches for poor Huxley. They dragged this poor little boy all the way from China, making him start all over again, then giving up on him🥺80% of her followers she gained from the adoption story, got sponsorships and her subs even funded the trip to China #mykastauffer
Let’s get something clear — rehoming a child is never, ever an easy decision. In fact, it’s probably one of the most heartbreaking and difficult ones out there. But there are certainly cases, particularly for the well-being of the child, that it must be done. For the best interest and overall safety of the child.
The online outrage with this topic comes down to the reason that rehoming their son was not seemingly done in his best interest (in the opinion of some) — it was done for their convenience and ease of life of his parents and siblings.
No child should have to suffer trauma and separation from their family, simply because their parents weren’t as ready as they thought they were to take on another child.
With the amount of money the Stauffer family would bring in with 1 million YouTube subscribers, as well as sponsorships, there were arguably endless options for finding the right care for Huxley.
And it breaks many of our hearts that instead of seeing their commitment to this beautiful child through, they instead rehomed him to someone else.
And in the words of many online users, “That’s just not what parents do.”