A YouTuber couple well-known for putting up videos of their family life, especially with their adopted son with “brain damage” is now facing a backlash for giving him up. Myka and James Stauffer, parents to four biological children, have been accused of using Huxley, their adopted four-year-old son, to make money, and then giving up on him when they could no longer deal with the challenges of raising a son with special needs. The couple had been informed by their adoption agency that Huxley would need special care. So the Stauffers decision to go ahead with the process was an informed one.

Do parents even have the option to quit on their children? Is the couple right in giving up on Huxley when they couldn’t care for him anymore? Parenting a child with special needs is very challenging, but is this any justification for them to quit? Do they realise how their decision may have changed Huxley’s future forever? The bigger issue here, however, is about the couple’s profiteering from documenting the process to adopt this child and raising him. Can we ever trust what we see on social media ever? Has goodwill been capitalised too?

Also Read: TikTok Vs YouTube: How Misogyny Is Repackaged On Social Media

According to an article on BBC, the Stauffers announced their decision to adopt a toddler from China in July 2016, which came through in October the year and was documented by the couple. The Stauffers have been running a YouTube channel The Stauffer Life since 2014 which has 3.28 lakh subscribers when I checked. Myka Stauffer’s channel has over seven lakh subscribers to date. Two years ago, Myka posted a video detailing their journey to adopt Huxley which clocked in 55 lakh views. In September 2019, Myka revealed that Huxley had been diagnosed with Autism and had been receiving treatment for the same.

But then followers raised an alarm when the young boy disappeared from the family videos towards the end of 2019. On Tuesday, the Stauffers posted a video from Myka’s account titled “an update on our family” revealing that Huxley had been permanently placed with another family, for his own “emotional-wellbeing”. Last checked, all the content posted on The Stauffer Life channel has been deleted.

SOME  TAKEAWAYS:

  • A YouTuber couple is facing backlash for giving up their adopted son with special needs.
  • The couple had received sponsorship and revenue for their videos on parenting a child with special needs.
  • Many people have accused a couple of monetising parenting and adoption process for their benefit.
  • The only person for whom the heart bleeds in this entire fiasco is little Huxley.

“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 can be seen saying in the video, adding that there’s not an ounce of their body that doesn’t want Huxley with all of their being. “Do I feel like a failure as a mom? 500 percent,” says Myka.

The decision has earned Myka and James immense social media backlash. “This is heartbreaking. He deserved so much better! He deserved a forever home not a “if we can handle him home,” one viewer wrote two days ago under Huxley’s adoption video that Myka posted on her channel. Another viewer pointed out how Stauffers didn’t fully commit to raising their child, “Part of me is angry that you gave up on him and did not commit to him like he was your biological child. If this was one of your blood children I don’t this you would have felt the same way.”

Two years ago, Myka posted a video detailing their journey to adopt Huxley which clocked in 55 lakh views.

This isn’t the first incident where adoption has resulted in tragic consequences for the children involved, especially those with special needs. In 2019, a couple was in the news because they wanted to ‘return’ the child they had adopted as she wasn’t learning new things ‘fast enough’. As per the counsellor who was asked to intervene, the parents aren’t willing to adjust their lives to accommodate the therapies which the child needs. They also do not want any long-term responsibilities and they don’t want to be answerable to their relatives as to why did they adopt a child who needed additional care. Read more about this story here.

In 2019 Central Adoption Resource Authority in India confirmed in response to an RTI that 278 of the 6,650 children adopted by Indian families between 2017-19 were returned. Four percent may not seem like much to many, but that is 278 children who didn’t get the fairy tale ending they were entitled to. There may be many reasons for a person/couple to give up on the custody of their adopted child, but perhaps what is disturbing about the Stauffer incident is how the couple monetised their parenting and adoption experience. Was is it just a way for the couple to gain a lot of goodwill, money and popularity, one wonders?

Parenting a child with special needs is very challenging, but is this any justification for them to quit? Do parents even have the option to quit on their children?

The couple reportedly asked their followers to donate $5 towards in order to support Huxley’s needs, saying that they would write donors’ names in a baby book. Not wanting to be unjust to the couple, one cannot get over the fact that while the couple aggressively documented Huxley’s adoption and their parenting challenges, they kept mum over giving him up to another family for a long time (considering that Huxley has not appeared in family videos since the end of last year.)

Also Read: In Mythology, Adoption is not an Act of Desperation, but a Kindly Choice

Everything aside, my heart goes out to the toddler who is too young to even fully process what exactly happened to his life. Why did the camera stop following him? Why did the faces that cuddled him, cared for him suddenly disappear? A part of me hopes that something good comes out of this upheaval for the child. That finally, he is in hands that will commit to caring for him for a lifetime and not just until the effort to help him begins to seem too much.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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