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Everything's disposable for fame-seekers: Myka Stauffer turned adopted autistic son into YouTube money machine, then ‘rehomed’ him

Helen Buyniski
Helen Buyniski

is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

Everything's disposable for fame-seekers: Myka Stauffer turned adopted autistic son into YouTube money machine, then ‘rehomed’ him
Mommy-vlogger Myka Stauffer plumbed new depths of social media shallowness earlier this year when she and her husband announced they’d successfully “rehomed” the autistic Chinese orphan they'd adopted with much fanfare in 2017.

Despite the acclaim, money, and worshipful followers she’d racked up after styling herself the saintly, self-sacrificing caretaker of the handicapped foreign boy, Stauffer insisted she was no longer able to meet unexpected “medical needs” that had only surfaced after bringing her son home. 

In an emotionally wrought Tuesday video, Stauffer places the blame on “numerous medical professionals” for the decision to fob four-year-old Huxley off on “his now new forever family,” defensively insisting the couple did all they could, “pouring our guts and our heart into this little boy” – even while lamenting her own “failure” as a parent. 

We’re going to be heartbroken for a very long time,” she assures her audience, presumably trying to mitigate the avalanche of hate mail already headed her way. 

It’s no exaggeration to say Huxley has been a successful meal ticket for his mother. Even before she brought him home from China, her videos detailing the minutiae of the overseas adoption process – for a special-needs child, no less – attracted not just followers and sponsorship offers but status. 

She played the role of “know-it-all mom taught humility by unexpected setback” to the hilt, milking her authenticity-hungry followers for all she could get. Stauffer crowdsourced a significant chunk of the child’s stiff $40,000 adoption fee, promising that donors’ names would be included in his “baby book.” She even received a grant toward the adoption, due to Huxley’s disability.

Addressing fans’ anger over the past four months’ silence regarding Huxley, the YouTube influencer couple claimed in their most recent video that they’ve “been trying to protect his privacy, his rights, and also just try to not mess up his future that’s laid out in front of us.” Surely it’s a bit late for that?

It didn’t help that Stauffer’s acknowledgement of Huxley’s ‘retirement’ raised more questions than it answered. The couple danced around their reasons for having the child evaluated by so many professionals in the first place, hinting only that “multiple scary things happened inside the home towards our other children.”  

Stauffer gave birth to a biological son in June, her fourth. Did her new human ‘toy’ render the old one less exciting, or no longer worth the effort? Whatever their reasons for parting ways with their adopted son, the couple was clearly in damage-control mode in the video, both dressed head-to-toe in angelic white, their litany of excuses punctuated with strategic sniffles from Mommy.

Over 22,000 people signed a petition to YouTube to force the Stauffers to remove all monetized content featuring Huxley from their channel, while others openly balked at the notion of putting an autistic four-year-old up for “rehoming” as if he were a recalcitrant puppy incapable of being house-trained.

Some 700,000 subscribers apparently sit down regularly to watch this perfectly-coiffed, perpetually-smiling young mother share the mundane details of her life, her struggles with Huxley’s condition, and the trials and tribulations of a well-heeled mother of five. She cleans, she cooks, she shops, but mostly she talks. Without Huxley, though, it’s unclear what the draw is supposed to be. The experiences of the adoptive mother of an autistic child represent a novelty, an authenticity that is highly prized in the jaded YouTube universe, but a run-of-the-mill mommy-blogger is hardly going to get a full-page birth announcement in People Magazine. Anyone can exploit their own child for clicks (unfortunately).

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The all-encompassing self-absorption it takes to pluck a child with poorly-understood “special needs” out of his home country, fly him halfway around the world, and essentially pimp out his struggles on YouTube only to put him back up for adoption when the stresses begin to outweigh the novelty could only exist in the solipsistic world of social media stardom.  

If Stauffer sounds painfully out of touch when she seizes any excuse to sing her own praises (“I have become so patient and so kind and so gentle,” she gushes about herself in one video, marveling that “it wasn’t just because that was naturally who I am”), it’s because her audience has encouraged her to be this way, embracing the very shallowness they now revile.

Now that her decision to unceremoniously show the golden goose the door has made her persona-non-grata, her fans must take some of the responsibility for giving succor to the monster that has displaced an innocent child from his home twice in his brief life.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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