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YouTube personality Myka Stauffer is facing backlash after announcing her family’s decision to “rehome” their adopted 4-year-old autistic son from China following unspecified behavioral issues.
Stauffer, a mother of four other children with over 75 million views and 717,000 subscribers on YouTube, revealed in a video that her son Huxley has a new “forever family” that’s better equipped to handle his special needs more than two years after she and her husband adopted him.
“With international adoption, sometimes there are unknowns and things that are not transparent on files,” her husband James Stauffer, 34, said in Tuesday’s video. “Once Huxley came home, there was a lot more special needs that we weren’t aware of, and that we were not told.”
The Stauffers adopted Huxley from China in October 2017, documenting their entire international adoption journey on their YouTube channel. An emotional video of the Stauffers bringing Huxley home from China received over 5.5 million views in 2017.
After his adoption, Stauffer learned that Huxley “was profoundly developmentally delayed,” she recalled in a blog post for The Bump in 2019. She claimed the adoption agency only said he was “diagnosed with a brain cyst,” but when they first met him “we knew something was terribly off.”
Stauffer said she later learned that Huxley “had a stroke in utero” and test results determined he had “autism spectrum disorder level 3.” The couple said they placed Huxley in intense therapies to meet his needs but his condition didn’t improve.
“There’s not an ounce of our body that doesn’t love Huxley with all of our being,” Stauffer said in her latest update video while fighting tears. “There wasn’t a minute that I didn’t try our hardest and I think what (James) is trying to say is that after multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit (for) his medical needs. He needed more.”
The mommy vlogger said giving up Huxley “the last couple months have been the hardest thing I could have ever imagined…choosing to do.” She added, “Do I feel like a failure as a mom? Like, 500 percent.”
However, Stauffer said Huxley is with a “healthier match” to meet his “severe needs.”
“He is thriving, he is very happy, he is doing really well,” she said, “and his new mommy has medical professional training, and it is a very good fit.”
The Stauffers didn’t go into detail about Huxley’s behavioral issues that led them to place him with another family, citing the child’s privacy and ongoing legal issues.
“Please have grace with us,” she concluded their video announcement. “We are still struggling. We are going to be heartbroken for a very long time.”
Stauffer has four other children – daughters Kova, 8, Jaka, 6, sons Radley, 4, and Onyx, 11 months.
Huxley turns 5 next week.
The Stauffers revelation instantly sparked backlash on social media, with many followers accusing the couple of exploiting Huxley to boost their YouTube career.
“Myka Stauffer and her husband James adopted a boy from China and exploited him for Youtube clout,” tweeted @eugenegu. “But when he got older they found him a new ‘forever home’ like a puppy that outgrew its welcome and not an actual human being.”
“@MykaStauffer imagine writing out these captions and not meaning a single word,” @ParticleSoop tweeted, referring to screenshots of Stauffer’s Instagram posts. “You adopted him solely for the attention it would give you and now you’re giving him away. Unbelievable.”
User @afloralmind added: “I just watched #MykaStauffer YT video on how they gave up their adopted autistic child. As someone who reads behavior for a living, all I have to say is that if you were truly expressing your love for the loss of your child, you would not have ‘subscribe’ on your video.”
Despite the overwhelming backlash, the Stauffers also received some support.
“I respect you so much for having the courage to make such a heartbreaking and hard decision. You are such great parents,” Rachel Lee commented on YouTube.
Stephanie Valencia commented: “I am so sorry. I wish Huxley the best in life. He is a cool little dude.”
USA TODAY reached out to the Stauffers for comment.