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This past year has been a nightmare for former American Idol star Syesha Mercado. The singer who has been in an ongoing battle with Florida’s Manatee Child Protective Services is now fighting to regain custody of her newborn daughter, just months after her toddler son was unexpectedly placed in foster care by officials back in February.

The third-place finalist who appeared on the seventh season of American Idol took to Instagram Live On August 11 where she broadcasted a heartbreaking video of her face-off with Manatee County sheriffs. Officials surrounded the star’s car and forced her to surrender the young infant in a surprise welfare check.

In the video, Mercado holds on tight to her days-old daughter who’s nestled up in a pink blanket as she pleads with authorities not to take her. The 34-year-old songwriter tries to explain she’s currently breastfeeding the baby. Shortly after pumping some milk for the young infant into a bottle, Mercado can be seen sobbing: “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. This is so wrong.”

Mercado’s legal woes began back in February when she and her partner took their 1-year-old son  Amen’Ra, to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, for dehydration. An activist group called We Have the Right to Be Right released a statement on behalf of the artist detailing that the young boy was struggling with transitioning from breast milk to solid foods. Shortly after Amen’Ra’s assessment, he was taken into custody by Manatee Child Protective Services.Dr.  Sally Smith was the health care official who assessed the young boy’s condition at the time, but the physician has been embroiled in numerous lawsuits in the past that allege Smith of having a record of being too quick to conclude caregivers of child abuse, something the doctor has denied to USA Today Network, according to CNBC.

Manatee Child Protective Services also released a statement claiming that they received a call from the hospital stating that the child was “severely malnourished,” and that the former Broadway actress allegedly denied her son of receiving a B-12 shot recommended by Smith, however, Mercado says this is far from the truth.

“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 in a GoFundMe account she created to cover legal fees; it has received more than $351,500 in donations.

Amen’Ra has since been placed in the care of a White foster family, which the star believes is a form of racism against parents of color. As for her newborn daughter, the baby has been in protective custody since the case hearing on August 12.
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