Monday, June 8, 2020

The adopted boy with autism whose parents gave him up is better off without them

Image: YouTube

The Internet continues to blow up over the fact that YouTubers Myka and James Stauffer gave up the little boy from China they'd adopted who had autism, aka "rehomed" him as news outlets have been saying (a particularly awful euphemism). As the parent of a child with disabilities who also suffered a stroke, I felt all the feels watching their announcement on the YouTube video they released. There's been a lot of fury about what these parents have done, and less talk about how it will impact the child. And I believe it's a good thing for him.

"Once Huxley came home, there were a lot more special needs that we weren't aware of, and that we were not told," James said about the couple's adoption of Huxley n October 2017 when he was two and a half years old. Myka had documented the fact that the couple knew their son had a brain cyst, and that it soon became clear he had developmental delays (a well-documented occurrence in babies adopted from Chinese orphanages). Eventually they learned he'd suffered a stroke in utero. Then he was diagnosed with autism. The Stauffers tried various therapies and, in the last year, more "intense" therapy" as James says in the video.

What exactly happened is unclear. Myka says 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." They said they couldn't get into detail to protect Huxley's privacy, and that the child had been spending time with various people to find his "perfect fit" and his "now, new forever family." He'd been placed with his "perfect match," a person with medical professional training. It's been reported that authorities are investigating the welfare of Huxley (the police have confirmed he is "not missing") and whether the couple went through the proper channels to find him a new home.

Some fans posted sympathetic comments; other people were critical, calling their decision selfish and unethical, especially because the couple had used his story and images for profit. More than 150,000 people signed a petition demanding that the Stauffers remove monetized content featuring Huxley.

I don't know Myka and James Stauffer—not from their YouTube life or in real life. But what I do know is this: If you are not up to raising a child with special needs, and that child gets a new home with a parent or two parents who are willing and capable of caring for him and who do want him, then that is what's best for the child. Perhaps not in the short term; I surely hope Huxley did not suffer trauma from the transition, especially since change can be particularly hard for a child with autism. But in the long run, yes.

As most any parent of a child with disabilities can tell you, raising a child with special needs can involve physically hard work and a whole lot of heart work, too. But they are your child, biological or adopted. If this couple were not up to handling Huxley's needs or the way those needs impacted their family (in a now-deleted comment under the video, Myka noted that "multiple scary things happened inside the home towards our other children") then Huxley is better off without them. I say this with no malice—I mean it.

As mind-boggling as it is to think that these parents gave up on their child, it is just as mind-boggling and awful to think of a child with special needs being raised by parents who could not handle his needs.

Parents of kids with disabilities are not cut out of any special cloth. We are not born with more patience or more tolerance or more compassion or any of that. God does not only give special children to special people, despite the fact that strangers who tell us that seem to firmly believe it. And Myka and James Stauffer are proof of the flesh and blood that parents are made of.

I hope beyond hope that this story does not send the wrong message about adopted children who may prove to be more than their parents can handle or scare people off adoption, period. There are so many resources available for raising children with special needs, including doctors, therapists and the communal support and connections many of us have found online. Every year, people knowingly adopt children with medical and developmental conditions—check out the amazing stories on RainbowKids—though there are thousands of children with special needs still in need of homes.

We can sit here, feeling sad and sickened and angry, and judge these parents till doomsday (which, come to think of it, has definitely felt like it's arrived in the last few months). But it all comes down to what's best for an adorable little boy with autism named Huxley. And Myka and James Stauffer were not best for him. And I believe that child will be better off for it.


  1. I agree with you 100%, Ellen. That said, I think this couple is shallow and greedy. I just don't like them and I have to wonder, based on their website content, whether they adopted him as a vanity project (virtue signalling). But these are two separate issues and the only important point here is that this little boy is with parents who want him.

  2. Huxley is missing and the subject of police investigation - check the NY news. I don't believe Myka had his best interests in mind when "rehoming" him.

    1. He's been confirmed as not being "missing" although authorities continue to investigate whether the couple went through the proper channels when they gave him to another family:

  3. To be fair, this couple never used the word "rehome", which is often used with pets. That word was used by a news source and repeated a lot. Not that this impacts what one thinks of their decision all that much, but it's worth saying.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. All 3 of my children were adopted from China. My youngest (now 17!) is a boy with the stated special need of cleft lip and pallet. He was 27 months at the time of adoption. Three months after coming home he was diagnosed with autism. There have been lots of mountains and valleys. For me, I look at my son as if I gave birth to him.

    I am aware of two other situations where an adopted child has been "rehomed". One was a child adopted at about age 10 who was very social. Mom and two siblings (also adopted) weren't. The other is a family who adopted a toddler with the same disability as one of their birth daughters. The disability manifested very differently in the 2 girls.

    Part of me gets angry. But I am thankful that these parents realized their limitations.


Thanks for sharing!

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