On Wednesday, Ohio mom blogger and YouTuber Myka Stauffer and her husband James posted a seven-minute vlog to her YouTube channel titled “an update on our family.” In it, the couple informed Myka’s 717,000 subscribers of their decision to give up their adopted son. Huxley, a toddler with special needs they “picked up” from China in 2017 and who has been featured in countless monetized videos, has been “rehomed” to his “forever family,” the couple said. That the language is more commonly used when describing the process of fostering a pet seemed not to bother the pair. But don’t worry, they are very upset!
“After multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit in his medical needs. He needed more,” Myka explains. “There’s not an ounce of our body that doesn’t want Huxley with all of our being. There wasn’t a minute that I didn’t try our hardest... Do I feel like a failure as a mom? 500 percent. So when we get insidious, hurtful comments, it really makes it hurt worse.”
In 2017, shortly after the adoption, Myka wrote a blog for The Bump titled “What Adopting My Autistic Son Has Taught Me.” In the post, she describes visiting Huxley in Children’s Welfare Center in China for the first time and realizing he “was profoundly developmentally delayed,” a series of issues that were beyond what the paperwork had outlined, she recalled. Eventually he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder level 3. The post ends with her coming to a conclusion: “Huxley wasn’t the one who needed to change—it was me... my son has taught me to love completely and unconditionally, regardless of circumstances and without exceptions.”
Second adoptions aren’t as rare as you’d think: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 135,000 adoptions are finalized every year in the U.S., and 1 to 5% of them are “dissolved.” As Jenn Morson wrote in The Atlantic in 2018, “Legally speaking, adopted children are recognized as no different from biological children. And for this reason, parents who opt to put a child up for re-adoption are doing nothing more legally complicated than any parent who puts a child up for adoption. But children who end up in need of adoption a second time will have their lives deeply disrupted, and the experience could leave them with lifelong doubts about their worth.”
I couldn’t begin to imagine that trauma, especially coming from a family that seems to describe him with language no different than one would use for an unruly pet. I can only hope that when Myka says Huxley is “thriving, he’s doing really well, and his new mommy has medical, professional training,” in the vlog, she means it.