In a hopeful turn of events, Syesha Mercado posted an Instagram Live video on Friday to announce that her son, Amen’Ra, was finally back home. In the video captioned “AMEN’RA IS OFFICIALLY HOME!!!”, Mercado’s partner, Tyron Deener, said the family has to undergo six months of supervision by the Department of Children and Families.
Syesha and the children can be seen in the video playing in the back seat while Deener spoke. “Every person that has been involved in this process — in keeping our son away from us — all those individuals will be held accountable,” he said.
The Root reported that Amen’Ra was put in foster care back in February after Mercado and Deener took the then-15-month-old to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., because he was struggling to transition from breast milk to solid foods. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said hospital staff reported the child was suffering from malnutrition.
Amen’Ra’s sister, Ast, was also taken from Mercado and Deener, just six months later during a roadside welfare check on Aug. 11. Sheriff’s deputies removed the 10-day-old infant from their custody for a checkup at the hospital.
According to the Herald-Tribune, the couple’s ordeal brought attention to the #BringOurBabiesHome movement, highlighting more cases of families fighting for custody of their children. The Herald-Tribune also reported that Dr. Sally Smith, who leads the child protection team in Pinellas County and oversees cases with suspicious injuries at All Children’s Hospital, examined Amen’Ra during the hospital visit. Smith was the subject of a USA Today child welfare investigation and has been criticized by numerous child welfare workers, families and attorneys for her aggressive approach.
“My message to the system, CPS, the whole child welfare system: You better start listening to the needs of the people,” Deener said in the video. He believes that Amen’Ra’s return will create a domino effect in more families getting their children back.