AUBURNDALE, Fla. (WFLA) — Within days of Chance Witherington’s first breath, he was taken from his mom by the Department of Children and Families and placed in foster care in Polk County.

Two months later he was dead.

His mother Lisa Willard said she came up with his name to symbolize another chance at parenting after she thought she couldn’t have more children.

“And I was not going to be able to have kids again and then I had him,” Willard said. “He was a blessing to me.”

Willard claims Chance was hurt twice while in foster care, including an incident that left a reddish bruise on his nose.

“It looked like a burn,” Willard said. “No one said what it was.”

Then, on her birthday, she got the worst phone call of her life.

“It was horrible,” Willard said. “The DCF person told me I need to get to Lakeland Hospital.”

According to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office incident report, an autopsy conducted the day after his death in October 2021 indicated “brain bleed on {Chance’s} front, right side” and “a small brain bleed on the back left side.”

The report stated the injuries were possibly caused by an “impact against a soft surface.”

Willard said that the initial report made it difficult to comprehend the Medical Examiner’s findings released last month.

The cause of death was said to be suffocation and the manner of death was said to be an accident.

“It’s the worst thing you could ever go through in your life,” Willard said. “This should’ve never happened.”

Willard said she believes if Chance was not taken from her, he would still be alive.

“Yes, he would be,” she said. “Even my kids this wouldn’t have happened if he was with me.”

DCF Deputy Chief of Staff Mallory McManus responded to a request for comment after the 8 On Your Side report was first aired and published.

“The Department conducts investigations concerning all allegations of abuse, neglect or abandonment,” McManus said. “Information regarding investigations is confidential per section 39.202, Florida Statutes.”

A Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the department’s investigation remains open.

Willard said she is planning a civil lawsuit hoping to hold the state “accountable” for taking Chance from her.

“They took my baby wrongfully from me,” she said. “If he had been with me, none of this would’ve happened. None of it.”