Myka Stauffer (an American mommy blogger and famous YouTuber) and her husband are being blasted on social media for choosing to ‘return’ their adoptive son. The Chinese boy in question has an autism spectrum disorder and the parents (who earlier asked their followers for $5k to show pictures of him) claim they can no longer provide him with appropriate care.
Her choice of wording in the explanation is what is bothering most people. She talks about the young child’s “relocation” and how he is now “forever home”. Those are, according to most social media commenters, terms most commonly used in American English when it comes to pets.
Online criticism to her decision was worded in the following manner: ‘You earn money on the back of a child with a disability and then discard him like a dog in a shelter when he’s unprofitable?’
Others accused the couple of “getting rid” of Huxley, the name of the child, after making money from his experiences.
That is the harsh response that Stauffer and her husband are currently receiving.
Stauffer and her husband are so-called ‘mommy bloggers’. These are mothers, couples or singles who document and share their lives with their children (with columns, blogs, photos and / or videos).
The approach is that they want to inspire other parents and moms. Ranging from education tips, to recipes or – say – how you can do yoga with your baby. The majority of them vlog on YouTube and / or post on Instagram. Some also have a blog.
There is also a revenue model behind this kind of content which Ms Stauffer has mastered very well.
The Ohio couple mainly earns their income through advertising their social media posts, or monetizing their videos and updates as it is called in online media. In short: they support their family, with content from their family.
Autism spectrum disorder
Stauffer and her husband adopted baby Huxley in China several years ago.
In several columns, videos and interviews, Stauffer stated that they were specifically looking for a child with a disability. They said they wanted to give the child with the least chance of adoption a shot at having a good life. That is why they chose Huxley.
According to Ms. Stauffer, the adoption agency stated that Huxley had a tumor in the womb of his biological mother and that it was at the root of his autism spectrum disorder.
Back at home, the Stauffer couple found that Huxley was suffering from severe autism and also had other behavioral problems to deal with. The adoption process was documented and shared extensively. Even before she first came home to Huxley, the couple made 27 different videos about the adoption process alone, all of which generated income through advertisements.
In those vlogs, she also asked her fans and followers for donations “to cover the adoption costs”. Not much later she asked her fans again for donations and at $ 5,000 she would share a photo of the boy, which she did.
Back at home she made several monetized videos with Huxley where she was also sponsored. For example, she partnered with Dreft, makeup brand Glossier, clothing brand Good American and others. In addition, she became an activist and regularly championed, with Huxley on her arm, for international adoption of children with disabilities.
There is also a video in which the child can be seen with ‘duct tape on his hand’ to stop him from sucking his thumb.
A few months ago, loyal followers and viewers began to notice that Huxley was no longer featured in the content of Stauffer and her husband. Initially, fans asked her about it and the couple simply didn’t answer.
Finally, Stauffer posted a video on Wednesday in which she provided clarity.
The social media reaction since has been extremely negative. As a result content on the couple’s YouTube account The Stauffer Life has been deleted.
“Extremely depressed reading about the influencer who raised funds to adopt a son, made this her ‘brand,’ discovered he has special needs, secretly rehomed him,” said a journalist on Twitter.