YouTuber Myka Stauffer under fire for relinquishing custody of son with autism

The Stauffers adopted Huxley from China in 2017.
Image: Myka Stauffer holds Huxley in a 2017 YouTube video.
Myka Stauffer holds Huxley in a 2017 YouTube video.Myka Stauffer via YouTube

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By Gwen Aviles

An influencer who multiplied her following by posting YouTube videos detailing the process of adopting a child from China now faces backlash for permanently placing her son who has special needs with another family.

“There’s not an ounce of our body that doesn’t love Huxley with all of our being. There wasn’t a minute that we didn’t try our hardest," Myka Stauffer said in a YouTube video Tuesday titled "An update on our family." "After multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit and that [with] his medical needs, he needed more.”

“For us, it’s been really hard hearing from the medical professionals. A lot of their feedback [has been] really upsetting for us, because it’s not what we ever wanted to hear," added Stauffer's husband, James. "We never wanted to be in this position, and we’ve been trying to get his needs met and help him out as much as possible.”

The Stauffers said that they held off on sharing the news that Huxley would be living with a different family to respect his privacy. According to Myka, the adoption agency "was able to place him in what they felt was literally the perfect match."

"Do I feel like a failure as a mom? 500 percent," Stauffer said in Tuesday's video. "It's not about me at all, but this journey has been, the last couple of months, the hardest thing I could've imagined going to, choosing to, do."

The couple has been posting videos since at least 2014, both on Myka's individual channel and their joint account, The Stauffer Life, which have more than 700,000 subscribers and 300,000 subscribers respectively. The Stauffers have four other children together — one of whom is from Myka's previous relationship — other than Huxley. They announced that they were planning to adopt a boy from China in a video from July 2016 titled “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!! || BABY #4.”

Stauffer produced nearly 30 videos about the couple's adoption process, chronicling when Huxley was came to live with them in 2017. She had vaguely referred to Huxley's special needs in some of her videos, including one in which she advertised a fundraiser for her son. The YouTuber first explicitly revealed the extent of his needs in an article she wrote for Parade last year, saying that Huxley was diagnosed with "a stroke in utero, has level 3 autism, and sensory processing disorder."

"At first, we couldn’t wrap our heads around special needs adoption. We would just say, ‘No we can’t handle all of that, we just want a simple adoption,’" Satuffer wrote in the article. "But as we let the idea soak in, God softened our hearts. Before we knew it, we were open to almost every special needs in the book."

She and her husband were criticized on social media, with #cancelmykastauffer trending on social media shortly after the announcement.

".@MykaStauffer, as a mom of 6 who adopted our sassafras at 2 from foster care — when your kid has autism, apraxia, and is nonverbal, you defy the docs’ prognosis and work your ass off in therapy until she talks and reads. Real moms double down, they don’t cut and run," another user tweeted.

Many noted that they no longer felt comfortable accepting parenting advice from Stauffer and would be boycotting her channel.

"Surely there are better methods of managing the obligations you willingly accepted," another person tweeted in response to Stauffer promoting a housekeeping video. "Frankly, I'm not interested in any kind of advice from anyone who would do this."

The Stauffers' attorneys reiterated Myka and James' video announcement, stating they believe the family "made the best decision for Huxley."

"Our clients came to the difficult determination to follow the advice of the medical professionals," the attorneys wrote in a statement. "To be clear this did NOT include any considerations for placement in the foster system, but rather to hand-select a family who is equipped to handle Huxley’s needs. They were forced to make a difficult decision, but it is in fact, the right and loving thing to do for this child."