Former “American Idol” finalist Syesha Mercado and her partner, Tyron Deener, have regained custody of their 20-month-old son Amen ‘Ra after a seven-month battle with state and local health officials involving malnutrition problems.
Mercado posted on Instagram “AMEN’RA IS OFFICIALLY AT HOME” to accompany a seven-minute video showing her singing “Ra happy, happy” as her son laughs and claps in his car seat.
“Ra is officially back with us, but it’s not over,” Deener said as he led them. “We have to face six months of supervision with the state coming to our house every week for the next six months to show that we (are) competent and able to raise our own babies.”
Previously:Manatee authorities take Syesha Mercado’s newborn baby
First custody case:American Idol star Syesha Mercado fights for custody of her son
Navigate a Custody Battle:A distant relative caring for the children of Syesha Mercado
Spotlight on Syesha:The career of singer Syesha Mercado
In a separate video on Instagram, Mercado said: “Our son is exactly where he needs to be. He’s home. He’s with his family, but he should never have been taken in the first place. She added. that “the family is still living this nightmare with the state”.
She said that during the past seven months, Ra “has been unnecessarily traumatized”. Mercado said she and Deener could see the impact of their separation “in his eyes.”
“We see it in the way he plays,” said Mercado. “We see it in the way he tries to rest at night. They put our son through a lot of trauma. What’s crazy is that they actually indicated in their documentation that it would be traumatic to take Ra out of our care. But they did it anyway.
The custody battle began in February when the couple took their son to the Johns Hopkins Hospital for All Children in St. Petersburg for a medical examination, as Ra was not passing breast milk to d ‘other liquids. They were removed from the hospital grounds two weeks later even as their baby remained in the facility. Ra was then placed in foster care before being placed in the care of Xtavia Bailey, one of Mercado’s sisters.
The couple, who are vegan and live holistically, argued that doctors did not understand their way of life and that there was a racial element to the case.
“These people are afraid of the word vegan,” Mercado said. “This is unacceptable. We are in 2021. These are words people use. These are lifestyles people practice. This is nothing new.”
She said they are now focusing on trying to “heal this.” But how to heal? They want us to heal by weighing our son regularly.
In the video, Mercado said authorities are demanding that Ra cannot lose weight.
“I’m still trying to figure it out with these follow-up appointments at the hospital where we’re not allowed to know exactly how we’re going to do it,” she said.
The case involves Dr Sally Smith, who heads the Pinellas County Child Protection Team and oversees nearly every All Children’s Hospital case with suspicious injuries. She is considered one of the most powerful figures in the child welfare system on the Florida Gulf Coast and has been criticized by defense attorneys, parents and protection workers. childhood for its aggressive approach in questioning parents.
The USA Today Network, as part of an investigation into the Florida Child Protection System, examined hundreds of its cases and found more than a dozen cases where charges were dropped, parents were acquitted or caregivers had credible allegations of innocence but suffered irreparable damage to their lives. and reputations.
Read the full survey on foster families:Florida took thousands of children from families and then failed to protect them.
The story gained national attention in part because of Mercado’s notoriety. A graduate of the Visual and Performing Arts program at Booker High School, she was a finalist in the seventh season of “American Idol” and, as an actress and singer, appeared on Broadway in “The Book of Mormon.” and on a national tour. musicals, including “Dreamgirls”.
Several lawyers and organizations, of which We have a right to be right, have been involved in the effort to bring Ra home.
In early August, Mercado gave birth to a baby girl, who was taken from the couple 10 days later by Manatee County Sheriff’s Deputies for hospital examination. She was sent back to Mercado and Deener within two weeks. A video of MPs chatting with the couple before picking up the baby has been viewed more than 3.5 million times on Instagram.
In the video, Deener cites a number of similar cases and says the outpouring of support will have a domino effect on other cases.
“Evil can no longer prevail in this reality,” he said. “Spell evil backwards, you must live.”
The couple raised more than $ 465,000 in an online Go Fund Me campaign to pay for legal fees and other expenses. Mercado said they are starting a nonprofit because “we don’t want this to happen to other families. It is our mission to protect other families, to help other families. Most people don’t know it. They don’t know that you can go to the hospital and that you can literally leave without your baby.
Related:Syesha Mercado raises nearly $ 400,000 to fight custody battle