By SAMANTHA PHILLIPS
Roland Hahn, the 18-month-old who was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman in February 2017 for skull fractures and brain bleeding, is back in his father’s arms in Florida, and has recovered from his injuries.
“Roland is my entire world and the biggest blessing I have ever received,” said Roland’s father Tyler Squarebrigs, 22, of Naples, Fla.
Roland was the focus of a 58-week investigation that culminated last week when Anita Hahn, 21, of Austintown, his mother, was arrested on a child-endangerment charge.
Roland was 2 months old when Hahn brought him to the hospital. She told police she had been sleeping when her boyfriend woke her up and said the baby was screaming and had a swollen head.
Squarebrigs said he got a frantic call from Hahn in February 2017 about their son’s injury. Squarebrigs wasn’t listed on the birth certificate because Hahn moved to Ohio to be with family when she found out she was pregnant, so for four weeks he wasn’t able to get any information on the baby’s well-being. He didn’t know where Hahn lived and couldn’t make contact with her.
“It was terrifying, nobody could tell me if he was OK,” Squarebrigs said.
His stepmother, Carol Sixberry of Naples, intervened and began calling Child Protective Service agencies in the area; all she knew at the time was that Roland went to Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman.
CPS gave a DNA test to Squarebrigs then helped establish his rights as a father, Sixberry said.
It took about three months for Squarebrigs to gain custody of Roland. During that time, Roland lived with a foster family that included his foster mother Shawna Perkins of Poland.
Squarebrigs and Sixberry made the 18-hour trek to Youngstown every week from March until May 2017 to spend time with Roland from Thursday to Monday. Squarebrigs wanted to start bonding with his son right away, and said it was amazing when he got to see his son for the first time.
Since Squarebrigs is young, CPS helped him learn the basics of caring for a child – such as how to properly feed him – then granted visits with Roland under his foster family’s supervision.
The family helped Squarebrigs get to know Roland – his eating habits, his sleep schedule, his favorite activities and how to handle him when he was recovering.
“Shawna and her family are amazing. They are a part of the extended family now. They love Roland very much. We couldn’t have asked for a better scenario with the foster situation,” Sixberry said.
The two families still keep in touch through phone calls and Facebook, and Perkins sends them care packages.
“There wasn’t a good foundation with Anita to begin with, but he went from such chaos to a calm, loving and protected environment,” Sixberry said.
Roland didn’t need surgery, and he couldn’t have certain medications for a long time because there was concern that his brain would bleed again. But a year later, he is happy, active and loves playing outdoors, Squarebrigs said.
“You have to be careful in case of any further health problems, but everything has been developmentally on point,” Sixberry said.
Sixberry and Squarebrigs said they are grateful for their friends, CPS, the foster family and people who donated to their GoFundMe to help bring Roland home.
Sixberry hopes Squarebrigs’ story empowers other fathers to fight for custody when their child’s mother isn’t providing a safe home environment.
“A father can provide a stable living environment just as well as a mother can,” Sixberry said. “Tyler is giving Roland the opportunities in life that a child should have.”
“Having Roland in my life has made me such a better man. I love being his father. He’s such a happy boy, and so smart, too,” Squarebrigs said.
Detective Kathy Dina said Hahn was charged because she had the duty of care as a mother and the injuries couldn’t have been self-inflicted or accidental.
Hahn’s male companion who was at the house that night wasn’t charged after being investigated.
Hahn’s attorney, Mark Hanni, was not available for comment Thursday afternoon.
Correction: This version of the story fixes the headline to reflect the investigation was 58-weeks.