What Is Adoption Dissolution? Everything to Know About Placing Kids for Adoption a Second Time
Wasatch International Adoption Agency's 2nd Chance Adoption is one program that helps families "who have done all they can to help" a child they've adopted
Editor's Note: Myka Stauffer and her husband James are seeking an adoption dissolution so their son Huxley can be placed with a new family. This story has been edited to eliminate the word "rehome," which was not a word Stauffer has used to describe the process.
In a Tuesday video shared by Myka Stauffer, the YouTuber and her husband James revealed that they had chosen to place their 4½-year-old son Huxley, whom they adopted two and a half years ago, in a new home.
Huxley, who has autism, "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," they explained.
But what exactly does adoption dissolution entail? According to the website for Wasatch International Adoption Agency's 2nd Chance Adoption, one program that helps place children who were adopted into another home, they follow "a carefully regulated, legal process following all the laws of the state in which the child lives and all laws of the state in which the new adoptive family lives."
"This program helps families who have adopted a child, either domestically or internationally, and find the child is not adjusting well into the new home. Our 2nd Chance Adoption Program is the best hope for a child who is struggling in their adoptive placement and the best hope for parents who have done all they can to help the child," they explain.
The program vets new adoptive families through "a current home study," WIAA says, "and background clearances to ensure they are approved by their state of residence to parent an adopted child."
"During the adoption process both the placing family and the adoptive family have legal representation, and before a child can leave their original adoptive home each state must give their approval for the adoption," they add. "The adoption of the child is finalized in a recognized court just like any other domestic adoption."
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For parents who opt to place a child they adopted with a new family, WIAA gives them the opportunity within the 2nd Chance Adoption program "to read about prospective adoptive families and actively participate in the matching process in order to find the right home for their child."
"Prospective adoptive families have access to the child's school record as well as medical and psychological information in order to understand what the child's needs are," they say. "WIAA works with both families who desire to place a child and families interested in adopting a child. We can help to match the child with an adoptive family that has the experience, ability and resources to help the child being placed with them."
WIAA says their program is very successful for second-time adoptions, calling it "the best hope for a child who is struggling in their adoptive home" and adding that they "have great empathy for parents who have done all they can to help their child but have come to the difficult decision that they have no more resources."
"We find that nearly all of these children thrive and do exceptionally well in their new 2nd Chance adoptive home," they say. "Parents who need a new home for their adopted child will not face any court or social service recriminations because this is a legal and appropriate way to help a child be adopted a second time."
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WIAA Executive Director Kathy Kaiser spoke with The Atlantic in 2018 about their 2nd Chance Adoption program, telling the publication that they were inspired to start it to keep children out of potential danger of parents trying to place children in new homes on their own.
"We felt very strongly that these families were worth helping," she said. "We opened this program because we could see that there were people that were adopting children overseas and through the foster-care system, and they were unsuccessful in parenting the child."
The outlet also spoke with California-based psychotherapist Mayra Mendez, who noted that "a child that experiences several different placements and family living situations is at high risk for forming insecure attachment" and could be more prone to face unstable moods, depression and other issues.
"There is no easy or painless way of dealing with adoption disruption," Mendez added.
As The Atlantic points out, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that between 1 and 5 percent of annual U.S. adoptions end up dissolved legally, as of a June 2012 document.
In her Tuesday video, Myka, 32, said, "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 [Huxley] needed a different fit and that his medical needs, he needed more."
"For us, it's been really hard hearing from the medical professionals, a lot of their feedback, and things that have been upsetting," said James. "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."
Response to the decision made by the couple, who have four other children, ranged from anger and outrage to sympathy and support on behalf of Huxley.
"So disgusting. If her biological kid gets diagnosed with autism will she abandon that kid too?" one Twitter user wrote while another said, "This is sickening. @MykaStauffer you should be ashamed and disgusted with yourself."
On the other side, "This is heartbreaking for me, I can't stop crying. I knew something was not right when I didn't see Huxley. I am a adoptive mother of a dissolution adoption my son is from China. My baby was 8 years old and had special needs his adoptive family couldn't give him the care he needed and made the most heartbreaking decision in their life. This is hard for both families and especially a child they loved so dear to their heart! The family tried so hard to love my baby, but he just couldn't attach to his new family and he [does] have siblings that we keep in contact with once a month. He is happy! Please keep both families in your prayers and Huxley that he gets the love and care he needs."