BTBuzz: Albuquerque officer adopts homeless mother’s opioid-addicted newborn

By Claire Coleman

When Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets responded to a possible theft at a local convenience store, he could have never predicted what would happen next.

On September 23, Holets left the convenience store and noticed a couple sitting in the grass against a cement wall. As he got closer, he realized the man and woman were preparing to shoot up heroin, in broad daylight. Holets turned his body camera on and approached the couple to begin questioning them. Standing over the two, Holets was shocked when he noticed the woman was pregnant.

“It’s not every day I see a sight like that and it just made me really sad,” Holets told CNN.

The woman was Crystal Champ, 35, who has battled heroin and crystal meth addiction since she was a teenager. She has been homeless for more than two years and tried multiple times to get clean, but failed.

“I did give up,” Champ said. “I just decided this was going to be my life. It just keeps coming back and ruining my life.”

Holets questioned Champ and her companion for a while, trying to figure out whether Champ fully understood the danger of her drug use on her unborn child. Champ said she was initially bothered by Holets’ questions, feeling judged and on guard. But minutes later, Champ broke down and confessed she was desperately hoping someone would adopt her baby. And that’s when everything changed.

“He became a human being instead of a police officer,” Champ said of Holets.

Holets found himself unable to simply walk away. He couldn’t shake the voice in his head telling him that this was his chance to truly make a difference. He pulled out a photo of his wife and four children, showed Champ, 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.”

Champ was shocked, and realized Holets was the answer to her prayers. As excited as Holets was, he still needed to tell his wife. He jumped in his car and drove to meet his wife, Rebecca, at a going-away party for a friend. Coincidentally, the couple had discussed adopting a child in the future. As soon as Holets explained what had happened, Rebecca instantly agreed.

“He already knew my heart on the issue and he knew that I would be totally on board with it,” Rebecca said.

Three weeks later, Crystal Champ gave birth to a baby girl, who the Holets family named Hope. Ryan was at the hospital for the delivery, and was overwhelmed thinking back to the unexpected turn of events that had brought him to this moment. Rebecca walked into the nursery a few days later. She recalls Crystal turning to her and saying “Take care of her for me.” And from that moment on, Hope was part of the Holets family.

To learn more about this incredible story, and the alarming trend of babies born addicted to opiates, visit CNN.com.