Syesha Mercado first garnered public attention as a contestant on season seven of “American Idol.”
But since February 2021, Mercado has been fighting to regain custody of her 16-month-old son, Amen’Ra, whom she says was “legally kidnapped” following a checkup at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.
After more than seven months of separation, Mercado reported that her son is home via an Instagram video. “AMEN’RA IS OFFICIALLY HOME!!!,” the caption reads. In the video, Mercado talks to her young son in the backseat while her partner Tyler Deener addresses the camera.
Deener explained that although Amen’Ra is officially back at home, the fight is not over. The family must still undergo six months of supervision with weekly visitations to determine if Deener and Mercado are competent parents.
“Thank you to everyone for all the support throughout this whole ordeal,” said Deener. “Every person that has been involved in this process, in keeping our son away from us, all those individuals will be held accountable,” he added.
Why Was Mercado’s Son Taken?
On February 26, 2021, Mercado and Deener took Amen’Ra to Johns Hopkins All Children’s hospital. He was still breastfeeding, but Mercado’s breast milk had run dry, and Amen’Ra wasn’t accepting other fluids. They were concerned parents, looking for help.
Two weeks later, Mercado and Deener were removed from the hospital premises for trespassing. Amen’Ra was discharged from Johns Hopkins in late March and placed in foster care due to concerns of malnutrition.
According to Mercado, she was not notified that her son had left the hospital and no family members had been contacted about taking Amen’Ra in.
Mercado Says the Malnutrition Allegations Are False
On an Instagram post, Mercado gives details about the ordeal at the hospital. She writes that she and Deener were told their big mistake was refusing a B-12 shot for Amen’Ra.
“WE NEVER refused the B12 shot & up until March 11th Ra was never left in the care of strangers and I was never without him for more than two hours,” Mercado wrote in the caption.
She explains that her breastfeeding journey with Amen’Ra was “easy, beautiful and so rewarding” until she became pregnant with her second child, a daughter named Ast. Baby Ast was also taken from Mercado when she was just 10 days old. Ast was returned to her family nine days later.
Mercado’s Case Has Brought Awareness to Other Similar Ones
Due to her music career, Mercado has a platform to bring awareness to her situation. Unfortunately, she is not the first mother to have an experience like this.
The Herald-Tribune reports that Mercado’s case has brought renewed scrutiny to the track record of Sally Smith, a physician who oversees most cases of suspicious injuries at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
According to USA Today, Smith is “one of the most powerful figures in the child welfare system along Florida’s Gulf Coast” but her aggressive tactics have been widely criticized. A mother died by suicide in 2017 after Smith accused her of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a disorder in which a caretaker invents an imaginary illness in order to seek medical attention for a vulnerable person, such as a child.
“We were treated like criminals just basically for going in the hospital and doing what a lot of parents do – seek medical assistance,” Mercado said in an online press conference about her experience. “I was met with a lot of judgment and accusations that literally just started to spiral out of control.”
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