The mommy vlogger used to make YouTube videos featuring her son, Huxley, who had level 3 autism, and gained profits from those videos.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 5, 2020. It has since been updated.
Being a mom is hard in itself but being a mom to a child with special needs can be trying. However, whether you're a mom or a dad taking care of a child with special needs, you probably are aware of the challenges and perks of doing so. Multiple parents from across the world have embraced their role and many of them use social media to showcase their journey. Singer Rory Feek raises his daughter Indiana, who has Down Syndrome, all by himself since his wife died of cancer. He has a blog and a video blog (vlog) and now a TV show talking about his life.
There are many other similar mommy and daddy bloggers and vloggers out there. One such mom, who has three biological kids, one adopted child, and one child from her husband's previous relationship details herself as a stay-at-home mom through her YouTube channel. Ohio-based Myka Stauffer has a channel of her own and a family account, The Stauffer Life, through which she showcased her adoption process of her autistic son, Huxley, then 2.5-year-old, from China. They had brought him home from China in 2017 and claimed that they were not aware of the extent of his special needs. Stauffer said that their adopted son had been diagnosed with a stroke in utero, level 3 autism, and sensory processing disorder, according to NBC News.
They had made dozens of videos about the international adoption process, which helped them garner many subscribers, which led to monetary benefits too. However, this mom of now four kids, instead of five, has come under fire after she "rehomed" her autistic son. People were enraged that she profited from his presence in her life by earning money and sponsorships, but just let him go when things got hard.
"There’s not an ounce of our body that doesn’t love Huxley with all of our being," Stauffer said in the YouTube video made which also features her husband Jim. "There wasn’t a minute that I didn’t try our hardest and I think what Jim is trying to say is that after multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit and that his medical needs, he needed more."
"I didn’t adopt a little boy to share these things publicly,” she said, according to Globalnews.ca. The couple added that Huxley, 4, has found his "forever family," and didn't go into further details citing his privacy and just alluded to "issues" and "special needs" over their decision.
People who follow her were appalled at the couple's behavior, but some people also sympathized with them. "Some people just aren’t meant to adopt. When you adopt you are committed to the child regardless of their needs, struggles, etc. You treat adopted children as your biological," said one Laney Skinner on YouTube. Another person responded, "My heart breaks for that poor boy."
People initially got worried that something was wrong when he started showing up less and less on their videos. In a post on February 16 on her Instagram, she said, "We have hard days, lots of them. I wish autism and adoption trauma had a manual to direct you through it all." Eventually, on Mother's Day 2020, Stauffer wrote on Instagram that it was the "hardest" holiday she’d ever had.
The backlash from their decision has cost them brand sponsorships from Playtex Baby, Danimals, Mattel/Barbie, Suave, and Chili’s, according to PEOPLE magazine. "We last partnered with Myka in Fall 2019 as a limited engagement," Suave said in a comment. Danimals wrote in one post's caption, "We have previously worked with Myka Stauffer and are no longer working with her. We are aware of the news she shared about her family, and are very sad to hear about this difficult situation."
The couple is also being investigated by authorities. They want to ensure the child's well-being. "Our primary concern is for the well-being of this child, as well as the other children in the household," a spokesperson for The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement, as per NBCNews. "Our investigation is ongoing, and will include contact with all children to ensure their safety."
Representational Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Catherine Delahaye