'American Idol' Alum Syesha Mercado Claims She Feels 'Criminalized' After Losing Custody Of Her Kids [Video]

Syesha Mercado still finds it difficult to have lost custody over her two children. In a virtual news conference, the former finalist of “American Idol” claimed she feels “criminalized” for not being able to be with her kids.

via: People

In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Mercado, 34, broke down in tears as she reflected on “missing out on so many precious moments” with her children, who have been placed in the care of Child Protective Services.

“I am a first-time mom and I’ve been deprived of holding my babies, and feeding my babies,” she tearfully said. “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.”

“I’m just missing out on so many precious moments — this is such a precious time,” the singer continued. “I feel my daughter. I feel when she’s hungry and know when she’s crying. And I can’t do anything. She’s not here with me.”

“I’m supposed to be loving my babies,” she said. “I’ve been deprived of that and I don’t know how to articulate it. It hurts so bad.”

Mercado and Deener’s newborn daughter was taken from their custody on Wednesday by deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, PEOPLE can confirm.

Mercado previously recorded a video of the interaction with the deputies, during which she and Deener received a court order to turn over their baby girl for a hospital checkup despite their claims that they have paperwork proving she had gone the day before.

The incident came five months after the couple’s eldest child was, in Mercado’s words, “forcefully and legally kidnapped” by the Florida Department of Children and Families on March 11.

Mercado claimed on her GoFundMe page that she had taken her son to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida for fluids while transitioning from breastfeeding to the bottle due to her pregnancy when Child Protective Services services took the boy.

“On March 11th, our sun 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,” she alleged in the page’s description. “We never refused a B12 shot, and at no point was he on the verge of death.”

Randy Warren, a spokesperson for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, told PEOPLE that authorities began an investigation into the matter after receiving a tip about a child who was “suffering from severe malnutrition.”

According to Warren, the parents “refused to cooperate” and a judge ordered the child to be placed in the custody of Child Protective Services. The case was then handed over to Safe Children’s Coalition, who handled the decision to “shelter a second child born into the parent’s care.”

Warren said that deputies from the sheriff’s office “executed a pick-up order signed by a family court judge” last week after “repeated attempts to make contact with the parents.”

The child remains in state protection following an August 12 court hearing, according to the Miami Herald-Tribune.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Mercado and Deener denied allegations that they had mistreated their children.

“The only thing that we have ever done as parents is make responsible decisions, loving decisions,” Deener said. “We have not committed any crime. We have not abused our babies. We have not done anything that is irresponsible as parents.”

“Our life revolves around health, balance and doing what we can to guide our children,” he said. “Nothing that we do is detrimental to our babies.”

Added Mercado, “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.”

Syesha is now fighting to regain custody of her children. Her GoFundMe page, which was created in April to help cover her legal costs, has raised more than $400,000 out of a $200,000 goal.

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