Support in the form of messages and money are pouring in to help former “American Idol” contestant Syesha Mercado in the battle to regain custody of her two children.
Mercado and her partner Tyron Deneer claim the children were “legally kidnapped” after a visit to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. The couple’s nightmare began in March when they decided to take their 1-year-old son Amen’Ra to the hospital. Mercado had grown concerned about the child as he struggled to transition from solely being breastfed to solid foods and intake of fluids from a bottle.
“During this process I researched so much & we even saw a couple of physicians & a lactation specialist who encouraged me he was really healthy, keep going, & I’m doing a great job,” Mercado shared to social.
As a precaution, she hoped a medical look over and fluids would qualm any concerns she may have had, but her experience was nothing of the sort. “They accused me of abuse and neglect. And specified medical neglect,” she said. Doctors allege Amen’Ra was malnourished and that Mercado refused him a B12 shot in a life-and-death matter.
She vehemently denied the claim.
“We never refused a B12 shot, and at no point was he on the verge of death,” she wrote on the gofundme page launched to help with legal fees for the custody battle. To date, nearly $400,000 in donations have poured in as the story continues to grain traction through social media via #BringRaHome.
Mercado says her son was placed into custody of Child Protective Services on March 11; he was then placed in the care of a white foster care family instead of with family members. Her heartbreak has moved thousands of supporters to share her story.
“💔 No baby, nor family, deserves this. Demand him back & sue. Y’all need to be paid for life for this. Sending love & light”
“This is unjust! You will win this case and have your baby in your arms again❤️” read just a sampling of comments left under Mercado’s posts regarding the loss of her son.
But still, that is only the beginning of the story.
Months later, the nightmare battle grew worse after Mercado gave birth to the couple’s second child, a daughter. Not even two weeks after giving birth, Mercado and Deneer’s vehicle was stopped and surrounded by Manatee County sheriff’s deputies seeking to take custody of the newborn. Deneer recorded the encounter on IG Live.
Authorities allege Mercado was required to notify authorities that she had given birth since she was already embroiled in a custody battle for her son. In the video, both Mercado and Deneer attempt to explain that all correspondence regarding the children was to go through their attorney.
“My baby is healthy and happy,” explained the season 7 “American Idol’ singer. “All you had to do was call the attorney. We have all the paperwork.” She further explained that her newborn, who is solely breastfed just as their son had been, was just at a doctor’s appointment the day prior. In the end, Mercado was given the opportunity to pump breastmilk before tearfully handing over the baby to CPS representatives.
Mercado, Deneer and outraged supporters believe systemic racism has played a key role in the couple being targeted by CPS.
“The racial discrimination that our community is facing right now is focused on Police Brutality because of the visibility and documentation. But we don’t think about the other forms of systematic oppression that come as a sub-set,” wrote Mercado. “In particular, the Victimization of our children through the Foster Care System. They become the forgotten ones, falling through the cracks because mothers and fathers are too afraid to take on the gigantic task of standing up to a way of thinking and laws that are steeped in colonial times. Parents are coerced to sign plans and documents under mental duress, essentially signing away their rights to a system that doesn’t love or understand us.”
Speculation also has surrounded the doctor who examined Amen’Ra, Dr. Sally Smith. An investigation into Smith’s scores of child abuse cases shows that Florida parents have long felt traumatized by her tactics and quick diagnosis of abuse.
“For years, defense attorneys, parents and even child welfare employees have complained about Smith’s aggressive interrogation of parents, wondered why she often saw injuries invisible to other doctors,” wrote USA Today Network investigators.
Smith has been with the hospital since the ’90s and is on the state’s short-list of pediatricians on the child protection team. Still, even with her word being perceived as truth in court, Mercado’s supporters view her as a major culprit in traumatizing the family.
“This is INTENTIONAL targeted medical kidnapping. Absolutely horrific. I am so sorry 💔💔
“DEFUND THE CORRUPTION -If this doctor is making this ‘mistake’ repeatedly with multiple families and Johns Hopkins is protecting her and keeps her on staff…maybe all of their donors need to be notified.”