The plight of the former “American Idol” finalist, whose baby son and infant daughter were placed in foster care by Florida officials, has drawn attention to St. Petersburg, Fla., pediatricians and critics of the relatively new child-abuse medicine specialty. says that cases involving suspected injuries in children may have a lot of power.
Last week, Mercado sparked outrage on social media when he and his partner Tyrone Deaner posted a gruesome instagram live video Joe shows up to sheriff’s deputies in Manatee County, near Tampa, around his car for a surprise welfare check on his 10-day-old daughter, Est.
bring it home
️Please read his story and help in any way possible️https://t.co/0zzkTbBysm
— zoę (@zacollums) 12 August 2021
The video shows the couple being forced to hand over their newborn to deputies, apparently because they did not inform authorities that Mercado had given birth on August 1, while their 15-month-old son But in the midst of a legal battle.
Kim Kardashian is among the video’s 3.1 million viewers, who called the situation “heartbreaking.” Others agreed with Mercado’s allegations that he and Deaner, who are both black, were victims of systematic racism in the child-welfare system.
The video shows Mercado, a third-place finalist on the seventh season of “American Idol” in 2008, begging the authorities not to breastfeed her daughter, then pouring a couple cups of milk before handing the baby over to a deputy. Feeded and pumped milk. .
“How can you guys do that? Don’t feel anything?” Mercado, 34, asked at one point before starting to cry. “My baby is day old and you’re taking my baby away from me. You’re taking my baby away from me. You have no heart. That’s wrong.”
Mercado’s case began in February when she and Deaner brought their son Amen’ra to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, for dehydration while he was struggling with transitioning from breast milk to solid foods. . for a release We have an active group promoting Right to Be Right, Mercado. Mercado said Deaner works as a teacher in foster care.
The nonprofit said that while there, Amen’ra was evaluated by Dr. Sally Smith. As the head of the county’s child protection team, Smith examines nearly every child funneled into a children’s hospital with suspected injuries, according to For a USA Today Network inquiry.
Smith was the subject of a USA Today investigation by defense attorneys, parents and even child welfare staff to conclude that sick or injured children were being abused by caregivers .
The investigation said, “Over the years,[he]has complained about aggressive interrogation to Smith’s parents, wondered why he often saw injuries invisible to other doctors, and questioned the specifics of his claims. “
The investigation looked at hundreds of Smith’s cases and found more than a dozen instances in which charges were dropped or parents were acquitted. The investigation said that despite credible claims of innocence, the parents suffered “irreparable damage to their lives and reputation”.
In Mercado’s case, Amen’ra spent two weeks in the hospital, then was handed over to child-protection services on charges of being “severely malnourished”. NBC News reported. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office also said that Mercado and Deener turned down the hospital-recommended B12 intramuscular shot, a claim that Mercado and Deener vehemently denied.
Smith isn’t the only child-abuse pediatrician in the United States who faces questions about his methods or how much influence he has in suspected child-abuse cases that have a medical component. Marshall Project also investigated Cases in Chicago, which grew into an increasingly powerful medical specialty, was originally designed to protect vulnerable children by improving the ways in which cases of child-abuse are investigated.
The Marshall Project states that child-abuse pediatricians are trained to detect causes other than abuse, consider caregivers’ explanations and to learn what types of fractures commonly result from abuse. arise, and what may be bleeding patterns in the brain, the Marshall Project said.
The American Board of Pediatrics certified the first group of child-abuse pediatricians in 2009. Smith was one of those doctors, according to USA Today.
Child-welfare workers increasingly rely on this expertise as they consider removing children from their homes. But the Marshall Project raised questions about how unbiased some doctors’ assessments can be. Many testify on behalf of state prosecutors. Some have their salaries paid, in part, by child welfare departments in charge of separating parents and children.
The USA Today investigation cited doctors and other experts who acknowledged that experts like Smith have a difficult, “nearly impossible” job. “Be very careful and she could send a child abuser home. Too aggressive and she could send an innocent to jail,” USA Today said.
When reached by reporters, Smith denied “any problems with my work” but directed further questions to the Florida Department of Health, which oversees the state’s child-protection teams.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Mercado and Deaner begged to be reunited with their children. His lawyer said that the children are being looked after by a “foreign relative” With parents they are allowed to see only once a week. Mercado said separating from him was painful, both physically and emotionally.
“I’m deprived of having my kids and feeding my kids,” said Mercado, who grew up in nearby Sarasota and received the city’s key to his “American Idol” success in May 2008.
The singer, who has also appeared on Broadway and touring shows, said, “I didn’t see Ra calling ‘Mama’ the first time, and I didn’t see my kids meet for the first time.” “Dreamgirls” and “The Book of Mormom.”
Deaner continued: “All we’ve done as parents is make responsible decisions, loving decisions. … We’ve been judged based on how we present ourselves, our culture. , the way we look, the way we express ourselves, and that has been criminalized.
in a statement for a gofundme campaign Mercado began raising funds to help with legal expenses, saying the child-welfare system was rife with racial discrimination. The Marshall Project supported this point, citing studies that showed doctors tend to diagnose abuse in children they consider to be low-income or non-white.
As of Thursday afternoon, the campaign had raised $425,000. Mercado previously posted on Instagram, blaming Smith, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and other child-welfare officials for “turning our world upside down”.
“Now, I can’t bond with my baby girl and meditate on my chest with her,” Mercado also wrote in the GoFundMe statement. “Whenever she cries, I cannot hold my newborn daughter, or give her the milk that my body has produced for her existence. My body feels when she is hungry, but I do not feel the pleasure of feeding her. I am missing the most tender moments of his life. It’s a nightmare every moment of every day until they bring our kids home.”