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“None Of It Was True” – YouTube Stars Who “Re-Homed” Adopted Son Say China Lied About Child’s Health

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

When we wrote about a couple of Instagram and YouTube "Family Influencers" who "re-homed" their adopted Chinese son after his severe autism and emotional disabilities proved too much for them to handle, we joked that the scandal appeared to be fodder for a great magazine story. Sure enough, NY Mag, the same salacious rag that brought us "Hustlers", has proven up to the task. And they didn't disappoint.

For those unfamiliar with the details, here's a quick refresher. Back in June, we reported that brands were cutting ties with a popular Mommy YouTuber after she and her husband admitted they had "re-homed" their adopted son, Huxley, a 4-year-old Chinese-born baby suffering from a sensory disability and severe autism.

'Adoption experts' – many of whom are quoted in the NYMag story – were aghast, not because "re-homings" are an intrinsically disturbing concept, apparently, this is not all that ucommon, according to a stat quoted in the NY Mag article – but because such a public example of the process had been allowed to reienforce "harmful stereotypes" about wealthy white people adopting Chinese children from the two government-supported programs for special needs adoptions.

Sharing information about a child’s adoption before he or she is in the home is frowned upon by adoption experts. “We don’t advise it. In fact, we ask them specifically not to do it,” says Susan Soonkeum Cox, vice-president of policy and external affairs for Holt International, the agency that has since merged with the World Association for Children and Parents, which the Stauffers said they used to adopt Huxley. Not only can publicizing an adoption jeopardize it, but it’s often seen as playing into the stereotype of white families swooping in to “save” foreign children. It “perpetuates the idea of lesser,” says Cox, who was adopted from Korea. That notion hasn’t stopped other influencers from documenting their process.

But as the story attempts to tell the couple's story, recounting how they came to the realization that their adopted child would require much more care than they realized.

When confronted by the NYMag reporter, the husband in the pair of mommy-daddy influencers, claimed that the couple had been duped by the Chinese adoption agents, who blatantly lied to them about the child's condition, including leaving out warnings about serious conditions like the child's low IQ and other developmental issues that might constitute a rare disorder, according to the report.

"You guys knew when we adopted Huxley from China, they told us that he had a brain tumor, and they said that his IQ was completely up to par – no delays and no issues. So when we get all of this news he doesn’t have a brain tumor, which is fantastic, but he does have several issues – ADHD, level-three autism, may live with you for the rest of your life, may never be potty trained. When we heard all of these things, it just hurt. It just hurt,” she said, adding that she’d trusted in God, and he had given her “a bit more than I knew what to do with." (In China, toddlers are not routinely screened for autism the way they are in the US, says Martin. Even here, the average age of diagnosis is about 3 years and one month – older than Huxley was when he was adopted).

James told viewers there were a lot of challenges they didn’t share on the vlog and that, in China, they’d been told Huxley knew the alphabet and said multiple words already in his native language. “None of that was true,” James said. (Holt International says it’s prohibited from speaking about the specifics of any adoption.) He added they’d “struggled to vlog” because of their son’s behaviors.

During the fallout from Huxley's "re-homing", the couple were the subject of a complaint to the Sheriff's department in their town in Ohio, which turned up nothing, mostly.

The sheriff’s-office report later revealed the extent of the Stauffers’ struggles. It detailed how the couple had hired a full-time caregiver for Huxley — which was “very expensive” — to prevent what authorities say one of the Stauffers described as the child’s “severe aggression” toward their other children. They said they’d tried to get him additional support, including seven months of applied-behavior-analysis therapy, but that the behaviors — throwing toys, removing registers from the floors, and attempting to hit the other children with them — continued to escalate. Several people who had agreed to watch Huxley quit, one of the Stauffers told the investigator, and Huxley’s outbursts were traumatizing for the other kids.

Before making the final decision on whether to "re-home" their adopted son, the couple took a vacation to Bali with only their infant son.

By January of this year, Myka and James decided they needed a break and took a trip to Bali with just their infant son, which they documented on Instagram. In the pictures, they are the image influencers tend to strive for: well traveled, happy, #blessed. Since adopting Huxley, Myka and James’s online success had grown substantially. Total earnings are difficult to estimate, but the Stauffers earned from $4,100 to $66,700 from their three channels in April and May 2020, according to analytics site Social Blade, a number that does not include revenue from sponsorships. Myka had hired a manager to handle all the DMs from companies that wanted to work with her.

But as the couple struggled on with their young child's increasingly aggressive and obstinate behavior, which Huxley routinely directed at his siblings, some of the posts got kind of dark.

Then, Google started squeezing the "Mommyfluencer" business amid revelations that pedophiles were leaving signals to each other in video comments.

The new channel wasn’t necessarily surprising: Last year, Google began rolling out policy changes affecting family YouTubers, first by disabling comments on content featuring young children — which cut off a crucial line of communication with their audiences — after news outlets reported pedophiles were time-stamping scenes in videos as a virtual Bat-Signal to one another (a child swimming in a bathing suit, for example, or children in the bathtub). In September 2019, the company agreed to pay a $170 million settlement for allegedly violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act — a 1998 law meant to protect children’s personal data online. In a complaint filed by the FTC and the New York State Attorney General’s Office, YouTube was accused of profiting from ads aimed at children under the age of 13 through the use of cookies without their parents’ consent. To comply with the law, YouTube limited the ads on channels and videos specifically aimed at kids. Earlier this year, YouTube deleted 1.4 million videos that violated its child-safety policies. Some family vloggers worried that their content would come under scrutiny next, if not legally, then at least in the eyes of their followers.

Finally, the couple says one of the many professionals and therapists broached the notion of "re-homing" Huxley.

Offline that spring, the Stauffers were talking with medical experts and therapists, conversations that would lead them to the possibility of finding a new home for their son. That was never part of the “journey” they had expected to experience, much less share. “There is a part of me that can’t imagine how bad it must have felt to lead to that initial conversation where one of them says to the other one, ‘Maybe it’s not meant to be us,’ ” says Kelly Raudenbush, who adopted her daughter with special needs from China in 2010 and has since co-founded the Sparrow Fund, an organization that supports adoptive and foster parents. “When do you have that conversation where one of you suggests, ‘Maybe we need to say “No more”?’ It’s got to be horrible.”

It's an interesting story, all told. But we noticed that at points, the 'experts' quoted by the Mag seemed strangely preoccupied with their image, like when one said they discourage influencers from posting about their experiences up to and during the adoption. When press ed why, NY Mag included a specious conclusion, before the expert acknowledged that the optics don't look great.

Sharing information about a child’s adoption before he or she is in the home is frowned upon by adoption experts. “We don’t advise it. In fact, we ask them specifically not to do it,” says Susan Soonkeum Cox, vice-president of policy and external affairs for Holt International, the agency that has since merged with the World Association for Children and Parents, which the Stauffers said they used to adopt Huxley. Not only can publicizing an adoption jeopardize it, but it’s often seen as playing into the stereotype of white families swooping in to “save” foreign children. It “perpetuates the idea of lesser,” says Cox, who was adopted from Korea. That notion hasn’t stopped other influencers from documenting their process.

Kids are being used as props – but they're worried about looking gauche in front of their peers?


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