After an Albuquerque police officer met a homeless, opioid-addicted expectant mother, he adopted her baby girl.
What led to this?
According to CNN, Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets, 27, responded to a possible theft at a convenience store in September. As he left the store, he saw a couple sitting on the grass outside, and he realized it looked as if they were shooting up heroin in broad daylight.
Holets approached the couple and realized the woman — who was injecting a needle into the man’s arm — was pregnant.
“It’s not every day I see a sight like that and it just made me really sad,” he told CNN.
The woman, Crystal Champ, 35, told Holets that she was nearly 8 months pregnant and she was addicted to drugs.
In bodycam footage, Holets told Champ, “You’re going to kill your baby.”
“Why do you have to be doing that stuff?” he asked. “It’s going to ruin your baby.”
Champ told CNN that although she is pro-choice, she didn’t want to have an abortion when she became pregnant.
“I was like how dare you judge me. You have no idea how hard this is,” Champ told CNN of the encounter. “I know what a horrible person I am and what a horrible situation I’m in.”
Champ, who said she has battled addiction since she was a teenager, told CNN she been homeless for more than two years. She has tried and failed to get clean.
“I did give up. I just decided this was going to be my life,” Champ said. “It just keeps coming back and ruining my life.”
Champ said that Holets’ demeanor changed when she told him she was looking for someone to adopt her unborn child.
“He became a human being instead of a police officer,” Champ said.
Instead of charging the couple with drug possession, the officer showed Champ a picture of his wife and their four children and offered to adopt her baby.
“I was led by God to take the chance,” Holets said. “God brought us all together. I really don’t have any other way to explain it.”
He added, “I just felt God telling me to tell her, that you will do it because you can. You can.”
Champ said she was stunned by the offer and looked at him to “make sure his eyes were genuine and that I could see his soul.” She then realized her prayers had been answered.
Holets left and went to find his wife, Rebecca, who was attending a going-away party for a friend.
Ryan Holets found her and told her about the encounter and his offer.
Rebecca Holets told CNN that she and her husband had previously discussed adoption, but they intended to wait a few years. But when she heard his story, she didn’t hesitate.
“He already knew my heart on the issue and he knew that I would be totally onboard with it,” Rebecca said.
Even though one of their children was just 10 months old, Rebecca said she knew she and her husband could care for another baby.
“We feel God has called us to do that,” Rebecca said. “It’s been on our hearts for a while.”
Champ gave birth to a baby girl in October. The Holets attended her birth and named her Hope.
Rebecca said Champ called the baby beautiful and said she loved her.
“And then she turns to me and says ‘Take care of her for me,’” Rebecca said. “And I said, ‘I will take good care of her and you take good care of yourself.’ It was super emotional.”
The family said Hope suffered a painful detoxing process, withdrawals, and methadone treatment. She is now home with her family, but still undergoes weekly medical checkups.
Champ is still battling her addiction, but called the adoptive parents of her baby girl a “light in this world.”
“There needs to be more people like Ryan and his wife and their family in this world,” she said.
How has the public reacted?
The story quickly gained attention online. Holets told The Washington Post that he never expected the story to go viral.
“We didn’t do this to have a story,” Holets said. “That is entirely not why we did it, but after talking to some close friends whom I trust, we realized this was a way to put a face on the drug problem and maybe encourage other people to adopt.”
He said another officer — Sgt. Jim Edison — signed him up to do an interview for CNN’s “Beyond the Call of Duty” series without telling him.
“Every day he calls me to ask for forgiveness,” Holets said. “And I keep assuring him that we’re fine. We didn’t quite realize it would get this response, and neither did he. … But we all realize it’s a really good thing, and some really good things can come of it.”
Holets asked for people inspired by the story to make a donation to a local drug rehabilitation center or adoption organization.
The Post reported that Holets is seeking treatment for Champ and her partner and gave them a tablet computer so he can email them pictures of Hope.