YouTube mom Myka Stauffer and her husband James were following the advice of “medical professionals” when they decided to find a new home for their adopted son with autism, according to the couple’s lawyers.
The lawyers released a statement to People on Thursday amid intense backlash against their clients, who announced earlier this week that Huxley, 4, was no longer part of their family. Their tearful announcement on YouTube came less than three years after they started sharing every step of their adoption process with the public, a journey that helped build Myka Stauffer’s profile as a mommy vlogger.
“After multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit,” James Stauffer said in a video posted to Myka’s YouTube account on Tuesday, which has been watched more than 1.9 million times. The Stauffers declined to provide more details about their decision to move on from Huxley, citing his privacy.
The Stauffers’ lawyers echoed their words in a statement to People on Thursday, saying the couple acted on the advice of “medical professionals” and educators.
“We are privy to this case and given the facts at hand, we feel this was the best decision for Huxley,” the couple’s lawyers, Thomas Taneff and Taylor Sears, said in their statement. “Since his adoption, they consulted with multiple professionals in the healthcare and education arenas in order to provide Huxley with the best possible treatment and care.”
Experts advised the Stauffers that it “might be best for Huxley to be placed with another family,” the lawyers said.
They added that Huxley was not put into the foster system or sent back to China, but rather that the Stauffers were allowed to “hand-select” a new family “who is equipped to handle Huxley’s needs.
“They were forced to make a difficult decision, but it is in fact, the right and loving thing to do for this child.”
The Stauffers’ lawyers came to their defence after the couple’s video triggered widespread outrage, with many accusing them of “giving up” on the boy because he wasn’t one of their four biological children. Critics also suggested that the Stauffers were ultimately pursuing social media clout, not genuine connection with a boy who needed them.
Myka Stauffer has built herself into a social media personality and parenting expert over the last few years, in part by sharing her adoption journey with over 700,000 followers on YouTube.
“Do I feel like a failure as a mom?” Myka Stauffer said in her latest video. “Like, 500 per cent.”
Huxley appeared in at least 27 videos on her page, and she frequently professed her undying love for the boy in various social media posts.
“You have changed our lives for the better and now that I know how incredible my life is with you in it, I couldn’t imagine a day without you!” she wrote on Oct. 9, 2018, in a post celebrating one year since his adoption.
The Stauffers’ lawyers did not go into details about Huxley’s health. However, Myka Stauffer did offer more of an explanation in a blog post for The Bump, a popular parenting site, last month. She said the family knew Huxley had a small brain tumour when they adopted him in late 2017, but they didn’t know that he was “profoundly developmentally delayed.”
Stauffer wrote that Huxley had autism spectrum disorder, and that he would violently bang his head on the wall and bite and punch others, including her four biological children.
She also hinted at difficulties with the adoption process in an Instagram post earlier this year.
The Stauffers will not be saying anything further on the matter at this time, their lawyers say. They also did not address the sharp criticism the Stauffers have faced online after Huxley was seen in a video with duct tape on the thumb that he usually sucks.
The video has been set to private on the Stauffers’ YouTube channel, but copies of it continue to circulate on social media.
Myka Stauffer has used her YouTube channel to share parenting tips, pregnancy updates and other details involving her family over the years. Her most-watched video of all time features the moment when she first met Huxley.
The adoption video has been watched more than 5.5 million times, although the video announcing Huxley’s departure is quickly catching up. The Stauffers had racked up nearly two million clicks on their “family update” video as of Friday.
YouTube data shows they’ve also lost about 4,000 followers from their channel.
Social media users continued to blast Stauffer for the decision on Friday, while pouring out their sympathy for Huxley.
More than 43,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that Stauffer return the profits she made by monetizing her Huxley videos on YouTube.
“They got in over their heads and pulled an already traumatized boy from another country, made money off of him, and then gave him to someone else,” the petition says. “This boy has suffered enough; it should not be public and should not supplement her income any longer.”
The Stauffers have four biological children who still appear in their videos: Kova, Jaka, Radley and Onyx.
Myka Stauffer has already updated her social media profiles to reflect that she is now the mother of four — not five — children.
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