A popular YouTuber who frequently posted about raising an adopted boy on the autism spectrum from China has now given him up to a new family. In an 8-minute video, Myka Stauffer and her husband Jim explained their decision to give up 4-year-old Huxley, drawing criticism from those who accused her of "rehoming" him.
Stauffer, a parenting vlogger who has more than 700,000 subscribers on YouTube, documented the process of adopting Huxley three years ago on the platform. A theme of the videos was Huxley's development: Stauffer posted about learning he had autism spectrum disorder and attempting ABA therapy.
But in recent months, Stauffer posted less about Huxley. She last posted about him on Instagram in February, writing that the family had a couple of "hard" days.
"We have lots of hard days, lots of them," she said on February 16. "I wish autism and adoption trauma had a manual to direct you through it all."
Followers began to wonder about Huxley, until she released the video titled "an update on our family" earlier this week. In the video, she said the last few months were "the hardest thing I could have ever imagined."
"After multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit in his medical needs, he needed more," she said, adding there wasn't a "minute where we didn't try our hardest."
Jim said that during the international adoption process, there were "unknowns and things that are not transparent on files." Without providing further details, he said Huxley has been in "more intense therapy" over the last year to help his "severe" needs.
"We haven't made the video yet because we want to protect his privacy, his rights and try not to mess up his future that was laid down in front of us," he said. "We're trying to our best to make sure we don't impact that all by making this video."
Stauffer, who would chronicle her "struggles" with Huxley in her videos, said she didn't show "99%" of what was going on behind the scenes to protect his privacy. The pair said part of the reason they held back on releasing a video earlier was to give Huxley time to acclimate to his new family, which she described as the "best fit."
"He is thriving," she said. "He's doing really well. His new mommy has medical professional training and it is a really good fit."
The decision angered many people on social media.
"Imagine adopting a special needs child from China, naming him Huxley (a crime in itself), exploiting him for sponsorship money and monetized videos, and then 'rehoming' him when things got to [sic] hard. LIKE HE IS A PET AND NOT AN ACTUAL HUMAN CHILD," one Twitter user wrote.
Another said: "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."
A Change.org petition asking the family to remove all monetized content that features Huxley has received more than 13,000 signatures.
"He's done enough for the Stauffers. He bought them a McMansion, multiple vacations a year, etc. What did he get in exchange? He got re-homed as if her [sic] were a freaking puppy!" the petition said.
Thomas Taneff and Taylor Sayers, attorneys for the Myka and James Stauffer, said in a statement to CBS News that the couple feels "this was the best decision for Huxley" after they consulted with a team of medical professionals. They added that the Stauffers did not consider placing Huxley in the foster system but rather to "hand-select a family who is equipped to handle Huxley's needs."
"We have advised our clients not to say anything further at this time, but it is likely they will share more when the time is appropriate for them and all involved," the lawyers said. "We should be clear that Huxley is a 4-year-old child whose privacy should be fully respected. We know our clients would ask for your prayers and support and to respect their privacy with what has been the most difficult decision of their lives."
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