The baby sits on Holloway’s lap on Tuesday afternoon – drinking from his bottle with one hand, playing with his father’s cell phone with the other.
“He’s very smart,” Holloway says. “He’s adorable. Everywhere I go, everyone really literally stops and tells me how cute he is.”
Holloway is blessed to be able to look at his son, after police say Royal’s mother allowed the child to ingest crack cocaine under her supervision.
Stacy Gatlin, 21, is in Kent County Jail on charges of second-degree child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Up until February, Holloway and Baby Royal were living in a Franklin Street apartment in Grand Rapids with Gatlin. Life was going well for the family.
“I couldn’t really tell you how things got the way they are now,” Holloway says. “I’m still shocked about it.”
Holloway tells FOX 17 that he and Royal went on a trip together to Lansing for a day in February to visit Holloway’s grandfather in the hospital. He says Gatlin was aware of the trip and was in constant contact during the trip via text messages.
Near the end of the trip, Holloway says Gatlin’s attitude dramatically changed – to the point that she accused Holloway of kidnapping their son.
When father and son arrived home, Holloway says Gatlin threw him out and refused to answer the door or let Holloway see his son for nearly a month.
When he was finally let in by a stranger later in the month, Holloway didn’t recognize his home.
“I saw everything for myself,” he says. “Something I had never saw before. I saw certain activities going on. And my son is right there.”
Holloway tried to get Royal out of the home, but it eventually took a trip to the hospital to do it.
“I was getting all kinds of calls to rush up to the hospital,” Holloway recalls. “‘There’s been an incident with your son.’ That’s when I found everything out.”
Holloway was told that Royal had eaten crack cocaine under Gatlin’s care. Holloway contacted Child Protective Services, and on March 8, Gatlin was arrested, with Royal being placed in Holloway’s custody.
A blood test later revealed that Royal did indeed have traces of crack cocaine in his system.
Somewhat miraculously, Holloway says Royal hasn’t shown any side effects from ingesting the drugs.
“I’m very grateful for that,” Holloway says. “It didn’t affect him mentally or anything like that. He’s perfect.”
As Gatlin considers a plea deal in the case, her lawyer tells the courts that Gatlin is in rehab and working to have Royal back in her life.
That’s not something Holloway is considering.
“How I feel is, ‘You had your opportunity to show what type of mother you are without me – your decision that you made,” he says. “You did the total opposite of what I’d ever expect.”
“I really feel like I don’t have that trust for her to see him. I really don’t.”
For now, Holloway is working to provide for Royal and has a positive outlook for their future.
“I see happiness,” Holloway says, as Royal now naps in his arms. “I’ll do anything for him. This is my all. I feel like this is me. I wouldn’t ever let anything happen to him.”
“I’ll always protect him.”