Authorities are investigating the whereabouts of Huxley Stauffer, the child whose adoptive parents, YouTubers James and Myka Stauffer, announced last week they had placed him with another family.
Last week, the Stauffers made headlines around the world when they revealed on their YouTube channel that Huxley, 5, is now living with a new family. The story quickly went viral, with thousands of people seeking answers about where Huxley is now and whom he has been placed with.
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office has been working with "several other agencies" to investigate the case, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. While the investigation is ongoing, Tracy Whited, the office's community and media relations manager, told BuzzFeed News authorities have confirmed Huxley "is not missing."
"All adoption cases are confidential, and must go through a thorough process, with specific requirements and safeguards," Whited said in a statement. "In private adoptions there are the same legal requirements that must be adhered to. These include home studies as well as background checks on the adopting parent(s)."
In this case, Whited said, authorities "are confident that the appropriate process is occurring."
"In addition, both parties are being represented by attorneys to ensure full compliance with the court process," she said.
Whited added that the office is continuing to investigate and "will include contact with all children to ensure their safety." The Stauffers have four other children.
The Stauffer family has divulged little about where Huxley currently is living, citing privacy concerns. Lawyers for the couple told BuzzFeed News the Stauffers had "hand-select[ed] a family who is equipped to handle Huxley’s needs." They did so, the lawyers said, after consulting "multiple professionals in the healthcare and educational arenas." They did not return an immediate request for comment from BuzzFeed News about the investigation.
"Over time, the team of medical professionals advised our clients it might be best for Huxley to be placed with another family. This is devastating news for any parent," attorneys Thomas Taneff and Taylor Sayers said in a statement.
However, it is unclear who facilitated the transfer of Huxley to the new family and which, if any, state or adoption agencies were consulted. The Stauffers denied placing Huxley into the state foster care system.
Bret Crow, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, referred BuzzFeed News to Franklin County Children Services when asked if Huxley was currently in Ohio state custody. Val Turner, a spokesperson for that agency, told BuzzFeed News that Huxley was not in its custody.
"The adoption for the Stauffer family is an international adoption, which does not involve our agency," Turner said, adding, "It appears that [Myka] made arrangements with an individual person, versus an agency."
The Stauffers did not return a request for comment asking to confirm which adoption agency they used to adopt Huxley from China in 2017, but Myka had previously stated on her YouTube channel the family used World Association for Parents and Children, or WACAP.
WACAP merged with Holt International Children's Services in 2019, and Susan Soonkeum Cox, the vice president for policy and external affairs for the organization, told BuzzFeed News the agency could not comment on whether it was involved in the Stauffer adoption. However, she said, in a general sense, the way the Stauffers went about this was unusual.
"Putting it on social media and describing it as 'We found another family.' Well, what does that mean?" Cox said. "Did they go through an agency? Was there another home study done on the other family? That part is highly unusual."