Syesha Mercado's Battle For Her Children: Timeline of Events

Syesha Mercado's plea to reclaim her two children continued this week at a press conference on August 17, during which she spoke through tears about being deprived of "many precious moments" with them at this time.

The former American Idol finalist recently lost custody of her two young kids, including her newborn daughter at a roadside check in Florida last week.

A GoFundMe page set up by Mercado to help cover legal fees for her battle has surpassed $424,700, at the time of reporting, more than double the $200,000 the page aimed to raise.

Florida's WWSB reported on August 18 that a statement from the legal counsel of Mercado and her partner Tyron Deener said: "Two disproportionately forceful child removals from a loving home have caused unimaginable trauma to Syesha and family.

"Syesha and Tyron are prepared to fight the discrimination and oppression inflicted on them by the legal system alongside their lawyers," the statement said.

Here we look at the events that unfolded before both children were taken from the couple.

February 26: Son Amen'Ra Assessed At Hospital

According to a May 2021 statement from "We Have the Right to Be Right," an activist group campaigning for the family, Mercado brought Amen'Ra, who was 13 months old at the time, to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida for a "simple consultation."

Mercado was hoping to receive help with her son who at the time had made the transition from breastfeeding to eating only solid foods and bottle feeding.

According to the May 2021 statement, Amen'Ra was assessed by Dr. Sally Smith, who is "associated with the child protection team in Pinellas County and is not an employee of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital," a spokesperson for the hospital told Newsweek.

In a statement to Newsweek, the hospital said: "Our first priority at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital is always the safety and privacy of our patients and their families. Therefore, we strictly follow privacy laws that limit the amount of information we can release regarding this particular case.

"Our first responsibility is always to the child brought to us for care, and we are legally obligated to notify the Department of Children and Families (DCF) when we detect signs of possible abuse or neglect. It is the DCF that investigates the situation and makes the ultimate decision about what course of action is in the best interests of the child."

March 11: Child Protection Services Take Amen'Ra

According to the aforementioned statement from the activist group, child protective investigator Danielle McCoy and armed officers confronted Mercado and alleged she denied her son a B12 shot. Mercado was informed Manatee Child Protective Services (CPS) would be taking custody of her son as a result.

On Mercado's GoFundMe page, the singer claimed CPS accused her and her partner of denying their son 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," she wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Pinellas County Police told Mercado and Deener, Amen'Ra's father, who works as a child welfare professional, to leave the hospital. They faced threats of being charged with trespassing, the May statement from the activist group said.

According to Mercado's GoFundMe page, at the time she visited the Johns Hopkins hospital, Mercado had recently discovered she was pregnant with her second child. Her milk supply was low and she went to the hospital to get some help but was forced to leave without her baby.

Mercado's son was placed in a foster family without any "qualified relatives or friends of our family" being interviewed for the placement. Amen'Ra was later transferred to another caretaker, according to the GoFundMe page.

May: Amen'Ra Yet To Be Reunited With Parents

Florida's FOX 13 reported on May 10 that the Manatee County Sheriff's Office closed its investigation regarding Amen'Ra in March.

Randy Warren, the public information officer with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, claimed investigators learned that Amen'Ra "was malnourished, underweight, very unhealthy."

The investigators were also told by medical professionals that "unless he got the treatment that he needed, ongoing, consistent treatment, that he would die," Warren said at the time, according to the FOX 13 report.

Amen'Ra was reported to have gained weight and be thriving. But his reunion with his parents remains in the hands of the judge, FOX 13 reported in May.

August 1: Daughter Ast Is Born

Mercado gave birth to her daughter Ast at home on August 1. "She ushered in so much peace to our hearts. We named her Ast, which means 'the gathering/coming together,'" Mercado wrote on her GoFundMe page.

August 11: Ast Taken By Sheriff's Office

Around 10 days after Ast was born, she was taken from the couple by deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office during a welfare check on the road on August 11.

The incident was shared as an Instagram live video in a post on Mercado's Instagram account last week. The post read: "THEY TOOK OUR BABY AGAIN!"

According to the GoFundMe page, the couple and their daughter were on their way to the sheriff's office for a wellness check when they were "surrounded by flashing lights and armed officers, who unjustly took Ast from me on the side of the road," Mercado wrote.

August 17: Tearful Plea For Children To Be Returned

NBC News reported that at a press conference on August 17, Mercado spoke through tears about the "many precious moments" she has been deprived of sharing with her son and daughter, who are now 18 months and two weeks old, respectively, as of August 18.

Mercado stated: "This is my first time being a mom and I've been deprived of holding my babies and feeding my babies. I didn't get to see Ra say 'momma' for the first time and I didn't get to see my babies meet for the first time.

"I'm just missing out on so many precious moments," she said. "I've been deprived of that and I don't know how to articulate it, but it just hurts so bad."

Both children are currently staying with an "estranged relative," according to Mercado's attorney Derrick McBurrows, NBC News reported Wednesday.

According to Louis Baptiste, another attorney for the family, the couple would not have chosen this person to look after their kids.

According to NBC News, Mercado's partner Deener said at the press briefing that he believes his family was judged and criminalized "because of how we present ourselves, our culture, the way we look."

Deener told reporters: "All we want is our babies home" and for those "responsible for taking our babies" to be held accountable.

He said: "We have not committed any crime. We have not abused our babies. We have not done anything that is irresponsible as parents.

"The only thing that we have ever done as parents is make responsible decisions, loving decisions," Deener said at the press conference on August 17.

In a statement to NBC News on August 18, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office said that its child protection investigation division got involved in the case after receiving information about a child at Johns Hopkins who was suffering from "severe malnutrition/failure to thrive."

The sheriff's office claimed the child "by order of a judge was sheltered and treatment took place. The parents refused to cooperate."

NBC News reported the sheriff's office also said a family court judge signed a pick-up order for the couple's daughter to be taken away following repeated failed attempts to reach them.

The sheriff's office said the child protection investigation division "was no longer directly involved and Safe Children's Coalition handled the case from there, including the most recent decision to shelter a second child born into the parent's care."

According to NBC News, the Florida Department of Children and Families is now handling the case.

Newsweek has contacted Mercado, Manatee Child Protective Services, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families for comment.

Update 8/20/21, 4:15 a.m ET: This article was updated with comment from the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Syesha Mercado at an even in 2012.
Syesha Mercado attends a fundraiser event at Cafe Entourage in Hollywood, California in July 2012. Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic