News & Politics

Social Services Nightmare: Did CPS Just Kidnap an American Idol Finalist's Newborn?

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USA Today has done some amazing work documenting Child Protective Services (CPS) and foster care abuse. They are on the cutting edge of a topic most media avoids like the plague because getting to the bottom of any of these stories requires months of investigations into a corrupt and hostile government agency that will not release records until they are sued. The latest story that USA Today has found involves a former American Idol finalist, Syesha Mercado, and the details of it will hopefully shock the consciences of lawmakers in charge of child welfare.

For more than three months, the couple has been working for the return of their 15-month-old son, Amen’Ra, who was placed into foster care after what the couple thought was a routine trip to the hospital. The couple was concerned about malnutrition after Mercado’s breast milk supply started to run dry, and the boy would not accept other fluids.

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.

According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, medical staff reported that Mercado and Deener turned down a B-12 intramuscular shot, as recommended by the hospital, a claim that Mercado and Deener vehemently deny.

To recap, Mercado took her toddler to the hospital because he would not accept anything other than breastmilk and Mercado’s milk was drying up since she was pregnant with another baby. Instead of helping this family, the hospital appears to have conspired with CPS and removed the child because of “malnutrition” as a result of the child’s refusal to eat. As a mother of a child who had the exact same issue, this terrifies me. My firstborn at two years old was only 19 pounds because of her unwillingness to eat, and I struggled with doctors who were not supportive. I remember firing my first pediatrician because she threatened to call CPS on me if my child didn’t gain a certain amount of weight before the next visit (as if I could magically force my baby to eat). All it takes is one doctor to accuse you of something and your life can change on a dime.

Mercado wasn’t as lucky as I was and she lost her child to a system with no oversight and then lost her newborn because one child was already stuck in the system. There were no allegations of abuse toward her newborn. What many people do not know is that if one child is already in the system, CPS claims any other children whether or not there have been allegations of abuse. The government owns all of your children once one is in the system.

Mercado’s car was surrounded by police and her newborn baby was taken from her (see the video here).

Before caseworkers could take the girl, she began screaming and Mercado breastfed her and provided authorities with a bottle of breast milk. Mercado broke down in tears as she carried the baby to another vehicle.

“You have no heart. My baby is days old, and you’re taking my baby away from me,” Mercado screamed as a caseworker repeatedly asks her to put the baby in the car. “My baby is healthy. My baby is happy.”

The situation has gone viral on social media, even getting the attention of Kim Kardashian, who wrote, “Everyone please read and spread this story is absolutely heartbreaking. How a mother could go and seek help for her baby that is not wanting to eat, they take the baby into foster care and remove her newborn baby with no reports of abuse.”

Not only is Mercado being targeted by a terrible system, but the doctor at the heart of this case is the very same doctor USA Today has been investigating for causing many families to lose their children.

As the Herald-Tribune, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported in May, the Mercado case involves physician Sally Smith, the head of the children protection team for Pinellas County.
Smith oversees nearly every case at All Children’s Hospital involving suspicious injuries. She is considered one of the most powerful figures in the regional child welfare system and has long been criticized by defense attorneys, parents and child welfare employees for her aggressive approach.

In some cases, she saw injuries others doctors did not.

The USA TODAY Network, as part of an investigation of Florida’s child welfare system, previously reviewed hundreds of Smith’s cases and found more than a dozen instances where charges were dropped, parents were acquitted or caregivers had credible claims of innocence yet suffered irredeemable damage to their lives and reputations. Smith previously denied “any problems with my work.”

Despite the multitude of reports against Sally Smith, she is still allowed to continue calling CPS on parents in her hospital. And no matter how many reports investigative journalists uncover that show CPS is a failed and abusive institution, nothing is ever done. Instead, American families, many of them minorities, are being systemically abused with no intervention from the government bodies entrusted with the protection of rights. It’s time to start admitting to ourselves that the Constitution is a dead document with no power to stop our out-of-control government agencies bent on controlling the populace.

It’s over, folks. Welcome to post-Constitutional America, where the rule of law can no longer save you from a lawless government.

Related: American Children Terrorized by CPS While Lawmakers Cry About Border Children