The Importance of Being Earnest: Myka and James Stauffer

Recently a popular YouTuber named Myka Stauffer and her husband, James, have come under fire for placing their adopted son, Huxley, in a new home. The couple adopted Huxley from China in 2017 and were informed that Huxley had some form of brain damage due to brain tumors. Myka later recounts that this “brain damage” was much more severe than they were led to believe and that Huxley had a stroke while in utero, autism, and a sensory processing disorder and that as much as they tries, they were ill equipped to handle all of Huxley’s needs, leading to their “rehoming” of Huxley.

This is simply the Cliff’s notes version of this story as I don’t want to focus on all the adoption details and the speculation about if they were given the proper medical diagnoses by the adoption agency. Rather, I’d like to focus on the actual “rehoming” and the question of morals that went into the Stauffers’ decision. The problem that the public has with the Stauffers is that they monetized their adoption of Huxley on their YouTube channel and that Myka acted as a special needs adoption advocate and also said in a now deleted video that her “child is not returnable” and that Huxley’s diagnoses “went in one ear and out the other.” This begs the question on whether or not the family truly considered the severity of Huxley’s disabilities even after being told by a third party medical professional that his disabilities were severe, which Myka also mentioned in this now deleted video. What’s more is that the family essentially made money off of this adoption and used the adoption of Huxley to get views and advertisement revenue.

Was their adoption of Huxley sincere? Would they have given up one of their biological children had they been born with the same disabilities as Huxley? I believe that their original intent to adopt was sincere and that they truly thought they would be able to handle Huxley’s disabilities. I believe they were disillusioned that they could not “fix” Huxley and that his disabilities were not “easy” to handle amongst their four other biological children. However, the Stauffer family has the means and access to plenty of resources and regardless of their knowledge of what they were told by the adoption agency regarding Huxley’s disabilities, they should have given more thought to what they would be getting themselves into by adopting a special needs child. I also think they should not have monetized their adoption of Huxley seeing as they ended up giving him up, proving their child is apparently “returnable.” Perhaps they should not be using their children for views at all, adopted or not.

Essentially, I think if someone is planning on adopting a child, especially one with special needs, then they need to research and plan for that child and prepare for what kind of care the child will need. This may seem obvious but given Myka’s “in one ear and out the other” comment, makes me think perhaps they weren’t as prepared as they thought they were. Children are a huge responsibility, and children with disabilities even more so. Huxley was already separated from his birth family and now his adopted family. Hopefully this new family will treat Huxley as their own and not see his disabilities as burdens for their lifestyle.

I don’t want to be too harsh on the Stauffer’s as I’m sure giving up Huxley was a difficult decision and that their biological children are saddened and confused. The backlash they have received, I’m sure, is also hard for them to deal with. Adopting a child, especially one with special needs, is not a moment to prove how good of a person you are, or how nonjudgmental, or how accepting. It should be because you genuinely care for the child and want to make their lives as fulfilled as possible. If the Stauffers did not have the opportunity to make money off of Huxley’s adoption, I’m not sure they would have adopted him at all. Let their story serve as a lesson about the importance of being earnest.