So there’s apparently a couple in Ohio – Myka and James Stauffer – that adopted a child from China in 2017. At the time, they were told that the child had some special needs but claim that the full extent of the little boy’s medical and intellectual concerns were never revealed to them. Although they were the parents of three kids already and were understandably daunted by the prospect of a special needs child, “God softened their hearts,” and they brought the one-year-old child home.
Turns out that Huxley, as he was named, was autistic and also had significant sensory integration issues. My daughter, Allie, does, too. Myka and James, who apparently are YouTube/Instagram influencers, had deals with a bunch of companies like Fabletics, Danimals, and Playtex, and I guess those contracts were pretty lucrative.
If all you knew about this family was what you saw on Myka’s Instagram account, you would assume that her kids never took their diapers off and smeared their poop on the walls, hit each other with fireplace shovels, or drew on a brand new sofa with a pink highlighter (all things my children have done). This is a Perfect Family. Their photos could be the ones they put in picture frames before you buy them. They could be the sample Christmas cards photos on the Shutterfly website. They’re THAT perfect.
Well, turns out things weren’t quite as perfect as they looked: Seems Myka and James “rehomed” Huxley because they thought it was better for everyone to do so.
You read that right.
After parenting this child for nearly three years, they gave him to another family. They did NOT put him in foster care, or go through any formal adoption process. They found another family, that family adopted Huxley, and at age 4, Huxley left the only home and family he likely remembers to live in a new home with new people and process with his non-neuro-typical brain what that means.
I have to say first, that many of the articles I have read seem to suggest that the decision to find new parents for Huxley was Myka’s alone, and the mother-bashing has been predictably loud. Let’s not forget that two parents adopted Huxley and two parents had to sign off on relinquishing him, so if you’re gonna bash Myka, make sure you bash James, too.
Second, as I said earlier, I have a child on the spectrum who had sensory integration issues (that she has, praise cupcakes, outgrown). She had a whole host of other concerns that made day-to-day life with her extraordinarily challenging for many, many years – for everyone in our family. So, I get it. Parenting a child on the spectrum is hard. Like, really, really, REALLY FUCKING HARD.
And one thing that can make it hard is that kids on the spectrum can be tough on their siblings, and don’t leave parents a lot of time for other kids. Which is why if you have three kids, and adopt a fourth, with special needs, who turns out to have a lot MORE needs than you thought, you maybe should work really, really, REALLY HARD not to get pregnant.
Which Myka and James apparently did not too long after Huxley came home.
Now, truth be told, if Myka and James could not give Huxley the attention, love, and specialized focus he needs, it’s probably a really good thing they gave him up. Kids with special needs deserve parents who are committed to doing all they can to maximize their well-being and potential. Since Myka seems more interested in coordinating her kids’ outfits and taking adorable photos of them doing Christmas crafts wearing Santa hats, I’m gonna say that doing home OT and speech exercises, behavior interventions, and food trials are probably not her thing.
So Huxley now has parents who will, it is to be hoped, focus exclusively on him and help him work on the things that challenge him. Myka and James can go back to being perfect – minus the big bucks from their many corporate sponsors, most of whom have dropped them in light of their sort of horrifying decision to return their rescue child to the shelter. One imagines the Stauffer Family will land on its feet – people like that always do.
But what of the Stauffer kids, who have now learned the lesson that if a person – a sibling, no less! – is not “normal,” or needs more time, or help, they should be disposed of. It’s Eugenics for the already born. What a tragedy for those children. How will this influence them in their relationships going forward? What will they do if one of their own children has special needs?
And while it probably is better the Huxley is with parents who want him and are willing and able to give him what he needs, what a gift the Stauffers have thrown away. Our Allie is about to turn 26, and while her early years were difficult, this young woman has been the single-greatest reason if I am a kind, empathic, and humble person. I feel sad, really, for families that don’t have an Allie, because their hearts will never grow as big as ours have.
My friends with special needs children know this. I think some people who don’t know it, too.
And Myka and James take really great family photos.