Myka and James shared every detail of adopting their son. Then they gave him to another family.

In 2020, the Stauffer family had one of the most popular vlogging accounts on YouTube. On their channel, The Stauffer Life, parents Myka and James created and shared content showing off their seemingly picture-perfect family. They showcased their children, and gave their audience a glimpse of their everyday life through the lens of a happy, healthy home.

However, by the end of 2020, one video had made the parents one of the most controversial couples online. 

Now, a new Vox Media Studios documentary called An Update on Our Family — notably the same title given to the Stauffers' now-infamous clip — dives into the family vlogging industry, and is putting the family's story back into the spotlight.

What was Stauffer family controversy?

It all started when Myka and James began documenting a two-year process that saw them adopt a young boy from China in 2017. The two-year-old — who they named Huxley — was brought into their Ohio home, where they were already raising four children.

After welcoming Huxley into their family, the Stauffers continued to share updates about their adopted son, and in 2019, Myka wrote a piece for Parade magazine sharing that there had been some inaccuracies in his file, which they  only discovered after bringing Huxley to the US.

"When we came home, we experienced a big surprise with inaccurate file information," she wrote. 

"Our son ended up having a stroke in utero, has level 3 autism, and sensory processing disorder. It took a lot of time to process and to readjust to his new diagnosis. We spent 10 months preparing for brain tumours and never once did I read about autism or stroke damage — it was a curve ball."


By early 2020, Myka had started opening up about the challenges they were facing regarding Huxley's neurodivergence.

"The last couple days have been hard," she said in an Instagram post on February 17, 2020. "I don't want to sugarcoat anything. We have had a lot of meltdowns, and lots of behaviours that have had us on our knees begging God for guidance!

"I wish autism and adoption trauma had a manual to direct you through it all."

Fans soon began to notice that Huxley — once a star of the family's YouTube channel — had disappeared from the couple's content. "For two and a half years, Huxley was the star and then he kind of just disappeared from the channel," one fan says in the trailer for the new doco. 

Another added, "People were asking, 'Where is Huxley?'"

In May 2020, they got their answer. 

Myka and James posted a video announcement — which has since been deleted — to their YouTube channel, and it sent the internet into a spiral. Addressing the online community and their 700,000 subscribers, the couples explained that they would be relinquishing their adoption of Huxley and "re-homing" him. 

Watch: YouTuber Myka Stauffer on giving up her adopted son. Story continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

One of the main reasons for their decision was they felt they could not provide him with the level of care he needed to manage his special needs.

"For us, it's been really hard hearing from the medical professionals, a lot of their feedback, and things that have been upsetting," they said in the May 2020 post. "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."

Myka continued, "There's not an ounce of our body that doesn't love Huxley with all of our being. There wasn't a minute that I didn't try our hardest and I think what Jim is trying to say is that after multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit and that his medical needs, he needed more."

The public's reaction.

In the wake of the Stauffers' announcement they were "re-homing" their adopted son, the public shared their outrage across social media comments sections. 

One commenter commented on the announcement video that they felt Huxley had been treated like a "pet."

"Imagine adopting a special needs child from China, naming him Huxley (a crime in itself), exploiting him for sponsorship money and monetised videos, and then 're-homing' him when things got to [sic] hard. LIKE HE IS A PET AND NOT AN ACTUAL HUMAN CHILD," they wrote.

Others condemned the Stauffers for monetising their adoption journey and engaging in sponsored partnerships for content featuring Huxley. Many accused them of walking away from their responsibilities as parents because ultimately it was allegedly deemed "detrimental" to their brand as a family vlogging entity.


"Myka Stauffer and her husband 're-homing' their adopted son because he was autistic will always be the perfect example of casual cruelty that's becoming standard today," wrote one user on X. "They literally didn't [want] the child coz his autism was detrimental to their brand. Disgusting!"

People's opinions were coming in hot and it was clear they had become public enemy number one in online circles.

In the wake of the backlash from the public, Myka posted an apology on Instagram, citing that she had been "naive" when deciding to adopt a special needs child.


"I want to first off apologise for the uproar and take full responsibility for all of the hurt that I have caused," she wrote.

"This decision has caused so many people heart break [sic] and I'm sorry for letting so many women that looked up to me as a mother."

Throughout her statement she tried to shed more light on what they experienced away from the spotlight, and was quick to deny rumours suggesting she went through with the adoption for financial gain.

"We did not adopt a child to gain wealth. 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. "Secondly, we are not under any type of investigation. I'm hoping to share more from my side of the story soon. 

"And lastly, I'm so sorry for letting you down."

Myka's statement was the last post she made on her Instagram account, which has since been inactive. Her husband James still posts from his work Instagram account @stauffergarage, however their YouTube account has also been sidelined.

Where is Huxley now?

After the story gained a huge amount of traction online, Huxley's "re-homing" caught the attention of authorities. In June 2020, a Delaware County Sheriff's Office spokesperson told BuzzFeed News they were working with "several other agencies" while investigating the process of Huxley's re-homing, adding that they were "confident that the appropriate process is occurring".


It looked like everything was taking place legally, which the Stauffers' legal team confirmed.

"We are privy to this case and given the facts at hand, we feel this was the best decision for Huxley," lawyers Thomas Taneff and Taylor Sayers told PEOPLE a statement issued in May 2020. "In coming to know our clients we know they are a loving family and are very caring parents that would do anything for their children."

In the four years that have followed the Stauffers' shock announcement about their adopted son, the public have heard very little about his whereabouts. However, in Myka's June 2020 Instagram statement, she confirmed that Huxley had been successfully placed with another family, and given a new name.

"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," she wrote at the time.

"He is thriving, he is happy, he is doing really well, and his new mommy has medical professional training, and it is a very good fit." 

Feature Image: YouTube/@thestaufferlife

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