American Idol finalist and broadway performer Syesha Mercado is fighting Florida authorities for her two children.
Mercado’s 10-day-old daughter was taken Wednesday morning in a roadside welfare check, only six months after her son was removed from her custody. Her partner, Tyron Deneer, recorded he encounter with Manatee County sheriff’s deputies.
At the scene, the couple was provided with a court order to turn over the baby for a checkup at the hospital. Mercado and Deneer both told the deputies that their baby had just been to the doctor the day before and they had all the paperwork to show for it. According to USA Today, they were actually on their way to the sheriff’s office early that morning and were told that no one was available to speak with them.
The couple has been trying to get back their 15-month-old son, Amen’Ra, who was placed into foster care after a visit to the hospital back in February. When Mercado became pregnant with her daughter, her breast milk began to run dry and she was worried about her child not eating. She and her partner had taken Amen’Ra to the hospital because he was not taking any other liquids.
From USA Today:
They took him to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg on Feb. 26. Nearly two weeks later, St. Petersburg Police removed the parents from the hospital for trespassing. When the boy was discharged in late March, he was put in foster care over allegations of malnutrition.
The sheriff’s office said that the medical staff there had reported that the parents turned down a recommended B-12 intramuscular shot, but they both denied the claim.
During the battle for their son, the couple asked that all interactions and inquiries by caseworkers be made through their lawyer. Still, child protective services showed up at their home after learning Mercado gave birth to her daughter. The couple again referred them to their attorney before they could visit.
According to Buzzfeed News, the couple was not given any warning of the roadside safety check and their lawyer was not contacted about any issues concerning the newborn. After the initial visit, the agency had gotten orders to conduct a welfare investigation and remove the child.
In the video, Mercado and Deener sit in their car on the side of the road; he is in the driver’s seat, and she is in the backseat, cradling the baby. They tell officials they want to be the ones to take the baby to the hospital. They also reiterate they had just taken their daughter to the doctor and that she was deemed perfectly healthy, but the officials interview Mercado and Deener and insist on taking the baby to the hospital for their own review.
Off camera, the baby can be heard crying before the case workers could take the child. Mercado had to breastfeed her then provide the authorities with a bottle of breast milk before the end of the incident.
They are currently raising money for legal fees to fight for custody of both children.