Content warnings for discussion of adoption, racism and child abuse
Mika Stauffer is a YouTuber and Instagram influencer. She has hundreds of thousands of followers and she has just revealed that she and her husband James have dissolved the adoption of their autistic son Huxley who they adopted from China.
This is a story that is steeped in racism that I am not best placed to talk about/ If you read this please also seek out commentary from transracial and transnational adoptees. They can best contextualize the impacts of the racism involved in this tragedy.
Transracial is an accepted term in the adoption community reffering to adopted children whose parents do not share the child’s race.
Huxley Stauffer is a transracial adoptee.
I myself am a disabled adoptee and I have experience with being the child that my parents did not expect and the consequences that I experienced as a result of that.
I tweeted about it yesterday.
While I was never “rehomed” (a term more appropriate when speaking about pets not children), my parents very much resented my disabilities.
My parents decided early on that they would not allow themselves to be inconvenienced by my cerebral palsy. So they decided that I just needed to grow out of it.
As growing out of brain damage was not a thing I could accomplish, I was punished for not living up to their expectations. Often if I needed help with something, I just had to accept that it wasn’t going to get done or I couldn’t have it. I could also expect to be lectured on how the situation was entirely my fault for not trying hard enough.
The abuse and neglect surrounding my physical limitations came primarily from my mother, though she taught the rest of the family to have the same unreasonable expectations of me. My father put me through daily psychological hell because I was undiagnosed autistic and I hated his form of “humour” which largely comprised getting into my space while miming violence and refusing to stop calling me hated knicknames or retelling heavily embellished stories twisted to humiliate me.
He drove me to tears on a nearly daily basis. This behaviour was also normalized in the family and it was always my fault for being upset by it.
One of the things he frequently brought up was a story he had heard second hand from a coworker. I had been going door to door selling Girl Guide cookies and knew that I was approaching the home of someone I knew. Rather understandably I chose to exploit this connection in order to sell cookies. I told him that I knew who he was and that he worked with my dad and that he should buy cookies. He bought cookies.
When he relayed this story to my dad at work, I’m certain he was just sharing a cute story involving his co-workers kid. He definitely didn’t know that I would be harassed with this story for years after.
My dad came home and gleefully retold this story in a sing songy voice, implying that I had behaved ridiculously. I burst into tears. Thus established as something that was guaranteed to get under my skin, my dad would chant “I know you and you know my dad” at me insistently as though this was the most ridiculous thing a 6 year selling cookies could ever do.
It was so ingrained as a hilarious and timeless story that even after my dad died my family kept doing it. One day we had that coworker to dinner and my mother dropped a sing song “I know you and you know my dad” into the conversation thinking this man was in on the joke. He stared atr her blankly until she awkwardly changed the subject.
To him it was just a long forgotten anecdote about a friend’s cute kid. However, for me it became something that resulted in decades of harassment.
I used to beg dad to stop harassing me. I tried talking to him about it like an adult but he was too convinced that I was the problem, I had to just get over it and learn to laugh.
Unsurprisingly years of psychological abuse eventually turned physically violent and at that point dad also threatened “I can send you back where you came from”.
It is important here to make clear that throughout my childhood I was constantly told everything was my fault. If I couldn’t figure out how to do something, I was lazy and not trying hard enough. If I complained about the ever present harassment that I experienced, I was told it was my own fault and if I stopped reacting to it, it would stop.
So being told that by a parent even an abusive one that I was still “other” and potentially disposable was devastating even as I was the victim of a physical assault.
One of the things that I find interesting (read: concerning) about the Mika Stauffer debacle aside from the fact that this child was used for views and financial gain before being effectively thrown away (which has been written about thoroughly elsewhere) is that there seems to be little focus on the role of James Stauffer, Myka’s husband.
Much of the ire is being directed at her while her husband is not being targeted with the same degree of censure.
So I just want to remind everyone that James Stauffer abandoned this child too. He would have been involved in the decisions.
The hell I lived through is not an isolated incident. It is the experience of far to many disabled children whether they are adopted or not. We need to hold the parents of disabled children to a higher standard based on outcomes for the child and not simply assume that “they are doing the best that they can”
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