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In 2020, successful family vloggers Myka and James Stauffer made a startling announcement that would end her influencer career.

They were ‘rehoming’ their autistic son, Huxley, nearly three years after adopting him from China.

The boy had been front and center of many of their parenting and lifestyle videos before suddenly vanishing from their posts.

Many among their one million followers on Instagram and YouTube started asking why, which led to a jarring confession that prompted swift and widespread backlash.

Now, four years later, they are the subject of a new three-part docuseries premiering at Tribeca Film Festival. An Update on Our Family, which takes its name from the title the Stauffers used on their infamous YouTube video in which they revealed Huxley’s fate, is directed by Rachel Mason and focuses on the YouTuber family from Ohio as it seeks to expose the “hidden-in-plain-sight, unregulated family vlogging industry”.

In a trailer for the forthcoming documentary, fellow vloggers detail the events leading up to Huxley’s disappearance from the Stauffer’s YouTube channel, while experts emphasize just how much money parents can make from posting content about their children online.

Myka and James Stauffer sparked widespread backlash when they re-homed their autistic adopted son Huxley in 2020
Myka and James Stauffer sparked widespread backlash when they re-homed their autistic adopted son Huxley in 2020 (YouTube)

Back in May 2020, Myka and James Stauffer revealed on YouTube that they had re-homed their four-year-old son nearly three years after they adopted him from China.

According to the couple, who also have four biological children, they had seen numerous medical professionals regarding Huxley’s “severe needs” and decided he had a “lot more special needs that we weren’t aware of”.

“International adoption, sometimes there’s unknowns and things that are not transparent on file,” James said in the video. “And once Huxley came home there was a lot more special needs that we weren’t aware of and that we were not told.

“For us it’s been really hard hearing from the medical professionals, a lot of their feedback, and things that have been upsetting. We’ve never wanted to be in this position. And we’ve been trying to get his needs met and help him out as much as possible… We truly love him.”

YouTuber Myka Stauffer reveals she has ‘rehomed’ adopted son with Autism

Myka explained in the video that they believed their son “needed more” medical assistance but maintained that there wasn’t “an ounce of our body that doesn’t love Huxley with all of our being”.

“Do I feel like a failure as a mom? Like, 500 percent,” she said, before revealing that Huxley had found a “new forever family” with the help of the adoption agency.

“They found somebody that they felt would be ultimately the best fit and he is thriving, he is very happy, he is doing very well and his new mommy has medical professional training and it is a very good fit,” Myka said.

At the time, the Stauffers shared the update to their nearly one million subscribers – more than 700,000 on Myka’s YouTube channel and over 300,000 on the family’s vlog channel, “The Stauffer Life”. They first announced their decision to adopt on social media in July 2016, when they shared a YouTube video titled: “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!! BABY #4.”

The Stauffers posted nearly 30 videos throughout their adoption journey, culminating in a YouTube video titled: “Huxley’s EMOTIONAL Adoption VIDEO!! GOTCHA DAY China Adoption.” The video, which was posted in October 2017, had been viewed more than five million times prior to Myka permanently deleting her channel.

According to NBC News, the Stauffers used a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for Huxley’s adoption from China. The couple reportedly earned a total of $800, while they said the adoption cost them $42,000.

In another video uploaded in September 2019, titled: “Emotional China Adoption Update Two Years Home,” the parenting blogger said Huxley had been in applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy since his autism diagnosis and was “doing so well”.

The YouTuber explicitly revealed the extent of Huxley’s needs in an article she wrote for Parade that year, saying that he was diagnosed with “a stroke in utero, has level three autism, and sensory processing disorder”.

Myka’s final photo of Huxley was posted to her Instagram – where she had more than 168,000 followers – in March 2020, two months before they revealed he had been placed in a new home.

“Last month was the hardest month I have ever had as a mama. And I’m still working through all of it. But instead of leading with my heart, I’m following yours!” she captioned the post.

Unsurprisingly, the revelation sparked backlash across all corners of the internet. Several users claimed the Stauffers had “used Huxley’s adoption for clicks, likes, and praise,” while others called on brands to end sponsorship deals with the family.

Mommy blogger Myka Stauffer apologizes after rehoming her autistic son Huxley three years after he was adopted from China
Mommy blogger Myka Stauffer apologizes after rehoming her autistic son Huxley three years after he was adopted from China (Instagram / Myka Stauffer)
Stauffer alleged Huxley had “a lot more special needs that we weren’t aware of”
Stauffer alleged Huxley had “a lot more special needs that we weren’t aware of” (Instagram / Myka Stauffer)
Stauffer claimed any money made from posts about Huxley went towards his care
Stauffer claimed any money made from posts about Huxley went towards his care (Instagram / Myka Stauffer)
The apology is the last post on Stauffer’s Instagram page, which has been dormant since 2020
The apology is the last post on Stauffer’s Instagram page, which has been dormant since 2020 (Instagram / Myka Stauffer)

Myka Stauffer really just gave her kid away because adoption wasn’t a dreamy aesthetic journey like she thought it’d be,” another person said. “These IG moms are another level of gross. That poor sweet little boy.”

An investigation was later launched by Ohio authorities in June 2020 into the well-being of both Huxley and the couple’s four biological children. The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office said it received “several enquiries regarding the welfare” of the then four year old. In a statement to The Independent at the time, a spokesperson for the department said: “Our primary concern is for the well-being of this child, as well as the other children in the household. Our investigation is ongoing, and will include contact with all children to ensure their safety.

“All adoption cases are confidential, and must go through a thorough process, with specific requirements and safeguards. In private adoptions there are the same legal requirements that must be adhered to. These include home studies as well as background checks on the adopting parent(s). In this case we are confident that the appropriate process is occurring.”

The spokesperson also confirmed that Huxley was “not missing” and that “both parties are being represented by attorneys to ensure full compliance with the court process”.

According to attorneys for the Stauffers, the process of finding a new home for Huxley “did not include any considerations for placement in the foster system, but rather to hand-select a family who is equipped to handle Huxley’s needs”.

One month later, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office announced that it would not be filing charges against the Stauffers.

In a lengthy Instagram post shared in June 2020, Myka addressed the widespread backlash and apologized “for all of the hurt” they caused their fans and followers.

“This decision has caused so many people heartbreak and I’m sorry for letting down so many women that looked up to me as a mother,” she began the Instagram statement. “I’m sorry for the confusion, and pain I have caused, and I am sorry for not being able to tell more of my story from the beginning.

“I could have never anticipated the incidents which occurred on a private level to ever have happened, and I was trying my best to navigate the hardest thing I have ever been through,” Myka continued, acknowledging that she was “not selective or fully equipped or prepared” when she started the adoption process and that she needed more “training”.

“I can’t say I wish this never happened because I’m still so glad Huxley is here and getting all of the help he needs,” she said. “I also know that even though he is happier in his new home and doing better that he still experienced trauma and I’m sorry, no adoptee deserves any more trauma.”

“I wanted to help so bad I was willing to bring home any child that needed me,” she continued. “For this I was naive, foolish, and arrogant.”

In the statement, Myka also expressed her admiration and respect for “every adoptee, adoption parent, and special needs parent” before addressing “a couple complete rumors” about her family’s decision to find Huxley a new home.

She clarified that they didn’t share content about their “adoption journey” to “gain wealth” and denied claims the family was “under any type of investigation” by authorities.

“While we did receive a small portion of money from videos featuring Huxley and his journey, every penny and much more went back into his care,” she wrote, adding that getting Huxley the care he needed was “very expensive”.

Myka concluded her statement, which had comments disabled: “We love Huxley and know that this was the right decision for him and his future. Praying that Huxley only has the best future in the entire world.”

Since the controversy, the Stauffers have kept a low profile on social media. Myka deleted her YouTube channel and her last post on Instagram remains her 2020 apology statement. Her husband James continues to post on YouTube under the channel Stauffer Garage, where he shares videos of himself car flipping, cleaning, and detailing to his 1.3 million subscribers.

Meanwhile, Huxley’s newly adoptive mother – who works as an accessible education teacher – changed his name to the Chinese name Yue Lin after his adoption in 2020. She’s continued to share photos of him on Instagram, where he’s seen surrounded by his adoptive and foster siblings.

An Update On Our Family debuts at the New York City film festival on June 6 at AMC Theatre 19th Street East 6 in Manhattan.

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