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Parents Cancel Their Adoption Because Of A Law Preventing Them From Posting Videos Of Their Baby To Their Millions Of Followers

Photo: Instagram / YouTube
Nikki & Dan Phillippi

It goes without saying that adoption is no small decision. But one couple on YouTube seemed to have not taken the move as seriously as they should have been. The reasons for why they canceled their adoption left people outraged and reignited a heated debate about the practice online.

YouTubers Nikki and Dan Phillippi have canceled multiple international adoptions for reasons that have left people outraged.

Why did Nikki and Dan Phillippi cancel their adoptions?

Nikki and Dan Phillippi are wildly popular YouTubers with well over one million subscribers on Nikki's YouTube channel @NikkiPhillippi. But in recent years, the couple have become more infamous than famous after a series of incidents they documented on their YouTube channel, including their 2021 announcement they put their dog down after it bit their son. But it was Nikki and Dan Phillippi's adoption cancellation announcement in 2018 that generated the most outrage.

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Nikki and Dan Phillippi canceled their adoption plans in Thailand because a law there forbids them from documenting their child on social media.

Nikki Phillippi had stated in the couple's videos that they wanted to adopt because while she had the desire to be a mother, she had no desire to be pregnant or give birth. After exploring their options, the couple settled on international adoption in Thailand and announced their plans in 2018. 

But as they got deeper into the process, they discovered a Thai law that threw a wrench into their plans. "Here's the situation," the couple told their followers in a video announcing they'd canceled their adoption.

"Thailand has its own law that's unique to [Thailand] that after... you pick up your child, and they're your child, you are not allowed to talk about them or share any images, photos, videos—anything about them online for a year."

Photo: Instagram

This is, of course, an earth-shattering dilemma for people whose entire income is based on sharing every detail of their lives online. "I mean, Nikki's got a YouTube channel, we share a whole lot," Dan interjected. "When that hit, we literally were like, what?!" Nikki added as if the mere suggestion they not use a living, breathing baby as content fodder for a single year was absolutely insane.

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The couple then resorted to adopting from South Korea—which they canceled for similar reasons.

After canceling their Thai adoption, the couple then shifted their focus to adopting in South Korea. But those plans quickly ran aground as well, and the couple canceled the adoption for nearly exactly the same reasons as before.

"We're not adopting from Korea," Nikki told the couple's followers, "because our adoption agency strongly feels that a Korean judge will not approve an adoption for us because of how public we are in our advocacy for adoption."

After decades of having a booming trans-national adoption industry, activists in South Korea have been promoting the adoption of Korean children to Korean families within the country. So it's likely a judge would not want high-profile YouTubers like the Phillippis competing with that initiative.

Even after all these years, the couple's wildly privileged approach to adoption, and particularly international and trans-racial adoption, has continued to spark controversy.

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Nikki and Dan Phillippi's adoption fiascos have become central to ongoing debates online about whether 'adoption is trauma' and should not be allowed at all. 

TikTok in particular has become a hotbed of debate about the practice of adoption in recent years, including among many adoptees themselves.

Accordingly, the Phillippis have become poster children, so to speak, for the underbelly of adoption that many adoptees and critics of the practice see. Adoptee and TikToker @karpoozy is among those who has held up the Phillippis as examples of everything wrong with the adoption industry.



The adoption debate centers on a notion pushed by TikTokers like South Korean adoptee Tory Bae that "adoption is trauma"—that the practice is inherently traumatic for adopted children, particularly those who are adopted by parents of another race.

Photo: TikTok

And while some more extreme proponents say adoption is never acceptable or ethical under any circumstances, most adoption critics like Bae say adoption should only be pursued by those with a deep understanding of its impacts, and the goal of adoption should be to help children in need, not to fulfill would-be parents' desires to have kids.

"Parenting is a privilege, not a right" is a frequent refrain among those who advocate for this idea, as are comparisons between adoption and slavery—an incendiary notion that is nonetheless difficult to ignore once the actual similarities, such as the enormous profits adoption creates for both private agencies and world governments, are taken into account. 

Even more chilling, pricing in for-profit adoptions—a $25 billion industry in the United States according to the most recent market research—is frequently tied to attributes like skin color



Given that the Phillippis' reasons for canceling their two international, trans-racial adoption attempts ultimately came down to their intention to make money off of the adoptions on their YouTube channel, it's not hard to understand why they have become symbols of everything wrong with the adoption industry in subsequent years.

In the end, the Phillippis ended up having a biological baby in 2020. The video they posted of Nikki giving birth in their bathtub has since racked up more than 1.5 million views—with comments turned off, of course.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.