I am a mother of two, one baby who lives in the stars and one here on earth. My first experience of motherhood was a rollercoaster. In the space of 12 months, I became a new mum, a special needs mum and a baby loss mum.
My baby girl was born with an incurable brain condition, she had intractable seizures and required around the clock care. I was determined to care for her at home during her little life and I did. She died peacefully in my arms at 10 months of age. I understand why a mother or a family might not be able to care for a high needs child in the same way. I understand that it might sometimes be better for a child to be placed with another family.
Recently YouTube and Instagram influencer Myka Stauffer, a mother of five has come under fire for ‘rehoming’ her 3-year-old, adopted son Huxley to a new ‘forever family. Myka Stauffer who adopted her son from China in 2017, in a highly documented social media journey said “After multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals have felt that he needed a different fit in his medical needs.”
“There’s not an ounce of our body that doesn’t want Huxley with all of our being. There wasn’t a minute that I didn’t try our hardest.”
“Do I feel like a failure as a mum? 500 per cent.”
Myka and her husband said they wouldn’t elaborate on the specific factors that led to their decision, both for legal reasons and for the sake of Huxley’s privacy. But they added he was now with his “forever family”.
Myka’s followers are outraged by the decision to give Huxley to a new family. But I think unless you have been a special needs parent it is very hard to judge. Every special needs parent knows the struggle of caring for a highly complex child. The reality that some days are spent just trying to keep everyone safe and alive.
It makes me wonder, were the Stauffer family supported in their care for Huxley? Did they have access to respite services or psychological support for themselves? Is this another case where the glossy highlight reel hides the truth of what is really going on at home?
I know I wished at times that I didn’t have a child with a serious disability. I would sit and sob for hours that my baby would never walk or talk. But I was surrounded by a loving support network who were there to catch me. I had access to respite services, like the fabulous Very Special Kids. All ready and waiting when I fell. I think it is important to recognise that some families, simply don’t have the resources or the ability to care for their child at home. It may be safer for their child to be placed in care or with another family. We only have to think for a moment of the shocking death of Baby Willow Dunn, to wish she had been placed in the care of another family before it was too late.
I have friends with medically complex children who have had to make the heartbreaking decision to put their child in the care of another family or service. It is never made lightly. For some parents, it is the bravest decision they will ever make. They love their children deeply.
They still visit their children daily if they can. The child remains a connected member of the family. They come together to celebrate special events like Christmas and birthdays. They are not deleted from the history books.
What is so shocking about Huxley’s rehoming is his complete removal from the family, Stauffer has changed her Twitter Bio to say she had 4 children instead of 5. A quick glance of her social media can’t help but wonder if she would do the same for a biological child.
Priyanka Saha’s baby Lily, died aged 10 months old of a terminal brain condition in 2017. Prior to having Lily, Priyanka she also suffered a traumatic and life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. After Lily died, seeing how little support was available to people, Priyanka wanted to use their experience, to help others. Together with her husband, she set up The Lily Calvert Foundation www.lilycalvert.com
Priyanka started writing about her grief on an Instagram @thelilyflower_ and her following quickly began to grow, with parents drawn to her candid words. Priyanka is a lawyer and policy adviser. She has a master’s degree in conflict and dispute resolution and is a qualified conflict coach, skilled in finding reconciliation and peace. She brings her expertise to provide unique commentary and advice on surviving life after loss.