Former American Idol personality Syesha Mercado says she and her partner Tyron Deener have regained custody of their 16-month-old son Amen’Ra following an extended six-month battle.
Mercado, 35, captioned an Instagram post Friday, ‘AMEN’RA IS OFFICIALLY HOME!!!’ along with a clip of the couple driving home with Amen’Ra in a car seat.
Mercado in the clip sang to her son, as the couple opened up about the details of the case, which began in February after Child Protective Services put the child into foster care after he was hospitalized at St. Petersburg, Florida‘s Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
The latest: Former American Idol personality Syesha Mercado, 35, says she and her partner Tyron Deener have regained custody of their 16-month-old son Amen’Ra following an extended six-month battle
The couple’s newborn daughter was also removed from their custody for 10 days in August.
Deener said: ‘He’s back, he’s with us, but we got to deal with six months of supervision … to show that we’re competent and able to raise our own baby.’
He added, ‘Every person that has been involved in this process – in keeping our son away from us – all those individuals will be held accountable.’
The child looked overjoyed as he reunited with his parents while in a car seat.
Mercado in the clip sang to her son, as the couple opened up about the details of the case
The child looked overjoyed as he reunited with his parents while in a car seat
Deener said of his son: ‘He’s back, he’s with us, but we got to deal with six months of supervision … to show that we’re competent and able to raise our own baby’
The couple in August had their newborn daughter Ast had been returned to them. Deener made the announcement in a video posted to Mercado’s page, in which he also shared that Amen’Ra was still in foster care at the time.
Tyron thanked the public for their support as he filmed himself in the car as his newborn daughter snoozed beside him.
A GoFundMe for Syesha and Tyron’s legal battles with Child Protective Services has raised more than $430,000.
‘We still got work to do to get Ra back,’ said Tyron in the Instagram video where he asserted that he and Syesha had ‘the best attorneys in the country.’
He added: ‘We have our baby back, our newborn, and we just gonna focus on getting those moments, these couple days, this week that we’ve been without her – focus on getting that time back.’
Delighted: Mercado and Deener had their newborn daughter returned to them in August
Sleeping peacefully: Their 13-day-old daughter Ast had been taken away by Child Protective Services but Tyron revealed in August that they have gotten her back
Celebrating one victory: Deneer made the announcement in a video posted to Syesha’s page
Whilst he remained in the backseat next to his sleeping daughter Syesha could be glimpsed at the wheel smiling with relief.
The pair opened up about her battle to regain custody of their children in a news conference in August. Amen’Ra was taken from his parents’ custody on March 11 and Ast was brought in by Child Protective Services in August.
In a press conference held in August, both Mercado and Deener said officials had no reason to remove the kids from them, as they have no current or past issues with the law or social services agencies that would make sense of the treatment they’ve received over the course of events.
The couple opened up about their battle to regain custody of their children in a news conference in August
‘If this can happen to us, it can happen to you,’ Deener said. ‘We have no criminal background. We have no history with DCF. We have done nothing wrong.’
Mercado said in the clip, ‘I went somewhere to get assistance, my baby was supposed to come home with me. We should have never been criminalized for getting assistance for something.’
In the clip, Mercado said she was ‘just missing out on so many precious moments’ and ‘such a precious time’ in seeing the children grow up.
‘I am a first-time mom and I’ve been deprived of holding my babies, and feeding my babies. I didn’t get to see Ra say, “Mama” for the first time. I didn’t get to see my babies meet for the first time. I didn’t get to see that and I can’t go back and redo that moment, I will never be able to go back and redo that moment.’
Mercado and Deener expressed their anguish amid their battle to regain custody of the pair, who were removed from their care by child protective services officials in Florida
In the clip, Mercado said she was ‘just missing out on so many precious moments’ and ‘such a precious time’ in seeing the children grow up
Family’s legal battle: Mercado had her newborn daughter taken away by sheriff deputies in Florida in August during a traffic stop, five months after her one-year-old son, Amen’Ra (pictured), was placed in foster care
She said of her son, ‘I didn’t get to see Ra say, “Mama” for the first time’
She continued: ‘I feel my daughter. I feel when she’s hungry and when she’s crying. And I, I can’t do anything. She’s not here with me. I’ve been deprived of that and I don’t know how to articulate it. It hurts so bad.’
Deener added that their lives revolve ‘around health, balance and doing what we can to guide our children,’ and that ‘nothing that we do is detrimental to our babies.
‘If you are a parent, if you are a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, just know that we have agencies in place that have the ability to remove children without you breaking the law or abusing your niece, nephew, son.’
The couple are now receiving the services of prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who has past represented the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, in the efforts to get their kids back.
Crump has criticized the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for ‘publicly dehumanizing’ a Black family with their actions.
Mercado said she felt helpless as she wanted to care for their son and daughter
Emotional: The mom-of-two fought back tears in the clip
The couple are now receiving the services of prominent civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who has past represented the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, in the efforts to get their kids back
Mercado has also begun fundraising efforts with a GoFundMe page that had amassed more than $465,000 on a $200,000 goal.
Officials said they were ordered by family court to take the newborn, TMZ reported in August, as sheriff’s deputies told them they were taking custody after they failed to report that they had welcomed the child, as they continue their legal battle for their son.
Amen’Ra was removed from custody of Mercado and Deener, and put into foster care as the child would not accept fluids after his mother’s breast milk ran dry. Authorities on February 26 took the child to St. Petersburg’s Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for a medical issue.
Mercado’s daughter remains in state protection following an August 12 court hearing, according to the Miami Herald-Tribune.
In the August 11 incident, which was captured on film by Deneer, police took Ast into custody claiming concerns the child was malnourished, later taking the child to a nearby hospital for a check up.
‘This is so wrong,’ Mercado said in the clip. ‘How could you guys do this? Do you not feel anything? My baby is days old and you’re taking my baby away from me. You’re taking my baby away from me. You have no heart.’
Heartbreaking: The American Idol alum sobbed and pleaded with authorities during the roadside stop to take custody of her daughter in Sarasota, Florida
In the incident, they were presented with a court order to hand over their child for a checkup at a hospital, and posted it on Instagram, writing: ‘THEY TOOK OUR BABY AGAIN!’
Mercado and Deener were driving in Sarasota, Florida with their newborn daughter when authorities pulled them over and insisted that they surrender the then 10-day-old child.
In the Instagram video, Deener can be seen sitting in the driver’s seat, while Mercado was in the backseat with their baby.
After being informed of the court order to hand over their child for the welfare checkup, the pair both pled their case to be the ones to take the daughter to the doctor.
At one point, Mercado begged deputies not to take her newborn, explaining that she is being breastfed. After pumping breast milk into a bottle in the backseat of a vehicle into a bottle, Mercado could be seen in the clip slowly walking her daughter over to deputies, begging for them not to take her.
Mother’s plea: This is my baby, my baby is just days old and you’re taking my baby away from me,’ the singer pleaded to sheriff department officers
Family matters: The mother sobbed as she pleaded her case during the stop
‘How could you do this this? Do you not feel anything?’ Mercado asked authorities with obvious raw emotion to her voice before she started to cry.
She added, ‘You guys, I’m human. This is my baby, my baby is just days old and you’re taking my baby away from me. You’re taking my baby away from me. You have no hearts. This is so wrong,’ she said while sobbing as she held her daughter in her arms in a pink and white blanket.
‘You don’t care… my baby is healthy and happy.’
During the video, sheriff’s deputies explained that the newborn was being taken because the couple did not inform authorities that Mercado had given birth while she was still in the midst of her legal battle over custody of her son.
In response, Deener argued that they had requested all questions about them go through their attorney, which he maintained did not happen. The couple also shared that the baby had just gone for a health checkup the previous day and they had all the paperwork to prove it.
Child custody: Mercado’s partner, Tyron Deneer, also pleaded to authorities to not take their child as he filmed much of the incident with a camera phone
Mother’s anguish: Eventually, Mercado handed over her baby girl, who was wrapped in a blanket, to authorities
Roadside: Sheriff department officers had a court order to take the newborn into custody because the couple had a pending case involving their 18-month-old son
The video, which lasts for just over one hour, has prompted outrage from Mercado’s supporters, who feel racism played a role in her case, along with other injustices. Mercado and her partner Tyron Deener are both Black.
The couple’s legal battles over their children began in late February when they took their then one-year-old son, Amen’Ra, to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, to get him ‘extra fluids’ because he was struggling with the transition from breast milk to solid foods.
But by the end of the hospital stay, the little boy was taken from the couple and put into the care of the Manatee Child Protective Services. Mercado has since said armed officers ‘forcefully removed me from my son’ after she was accused of abuse and neglect.
‘They ripped me away from my proudest creation in life, pure joy, my SUNhine,’ the singer wrote in an Instagram post.
Their plea: During the exchange the couple said their daughter had just gone for a health checkup the previous day and they had all the paperwork to prove it
Sad situation: The couple eventually walked back to their parked vehicle without incident
Dispute: In a statement to NBC News on Friday, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office revealed it had received information from a hospital’s child abuse line that their boy was ‘severely malnourished,’ which Mercado disputes
In a statement to NBC News in August, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office revealed it had received information from the hospital’s child abuse line that a boy was ‘severely malnourished,’ which Mercado disputes.
‘Amen’Ra was forcefully and legally kidnapped from us by CPS, who claim we refused a B12 shot that was a matter of life and death, which is an absolute lie. We never refused a B12 shot, and at no point was he on the verge of death,’ Mercado wrote on a GoFundMe page that she created to help pay for legal fees.
Mercado insists her children are prime examples of racial discrimination in Manatee County, and that her son has since been placed with a white foster family without interviewing qualified relatives or friends for placement while authorities investigate.
Mercado appeared on season 7 of American Idol in 2008, and ended up coming in third behind runner-up David Archuleta and winner David Cook
Foster care: The singer’s young son was placed into foster care in March after receiving information from a hospital’s child abuse line that a boy was ‘severely malnourished’
The singer started a GoFundMe account to help pay for legal costs to regain custody of their son; at last check on August 17 it has received $410,987 in donations
Flashback: Mercado was seen in LA during her time on season eight of American Idol