After officer adopts opioid-addicted baby, mom's struggle continues

A chance encounter with a homeless pregnant woman addicted to heroin put Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets on on...

Posted: Dec 15, 2017 3:55 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2017 3:55 PM

A chance encounter with a homeless pregnant woman addicted to heroin put Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets on one of the most emotional journeys of his life. Now, two weeks after their story touched millions, there's a second chapter.

Holets met Crystal Champ and her partner, Tom Key, shooting up heroin behind a convenience store in September. Champ, 35, was eight months pregnant and living in a tent alongside an Albuquerque interstate. Police body camera footage captured the interaction.

A chance encounter changed three lives in Albuquerque

There's another chapter in the lives of the police officer and the homeless woman

In a stunning moment that would change all three of their lives forever, Holets -- a married father of four -- offered to adopt Champ's baby.

Nearly a month later, a girl was born, and she has been cared for by the Holets family ever since. They named her Hope. The adoption is expected to be final before the end of this year.

Baby Hope suffered through nearly a month of heroin and crystal meth withdrawal but is now doing well.

After their story was reported, a number of substance abuse treatment centers offered to help Champ and Key. Holets, who received a city award for his actions, has tried to convince them to take advantage of this opportunity to get the help they need.

This week, CNN found Holets and Key living with a friend in a ramshackle RV park and explained how a number of treatment centers had offered to help her get into a rehab program.

But the grip of heroin is so fierce that she has struggled to accept the offer.

"I really don't have a desire to get clean, and that sucks, because I really want to," she said. After a long pause, she added, "but I don't."

Champ said she knows how difficult it is to get clean. A rehab program worked once before, but a year later she relapsed, which led to her current life, homeless for two years.

"I'm scared I'll get clean and not find the comfort that I find in my life like this," she said.

'Bitter and angry'

For most of his six years on the Albuquerque police force, patrolling the streets took a toll on Holets. He sensed the frustration and disillusionment growing inside him and how it affected how he interacted with people.

The 27-year-old says he was tired of the same people cursing at him, calling him a pig.

He started hating the people he came across on the street and says he got to the point where he stopped being proud of the way he interacted with some people.

Holets realized he had come to the point where he had to choose which path he would follow as a police officer.

"I had to start coping with the fact that what I was turning into was bitter and angry," he said. "I didn't like it."

It was after this epiphany that Holets had that chance encounter.

Breakthrough, then heartbreak

This week, a team from Mending Fences, a rehabilitation facility in Florida, sent a special counselor to Albuquerque, and Holets took them to meet with Champ and Key.

After they spoke with the woman for about 20 minutes, there was a breakthrough.

As Holets looked on from a distance, Hope's parents agreed to leave their life of addiction and head to the treatment facility.

The officer smiled as he escorted the couple to the airport with a ragtag collection of bags holding their belongings.

But on the drive to the airport, the situation unraveled. Overcome with anxiety, the couple became highly emotional and started second-guessing their decision.

They stood on the curb, fidgeting endlessly with their belongings, clearly overwhelmed by the moment. They made it inside the airport terminal and were about 100 yards from clearing the security checkpoint.

But that's as far as they would go.

Holets looked on hopelessly.

"I don't want to do this," Champ emotionally told her partner. "I'm happy. I'm fine being a freaking heroin addict on the streets."

And just like that, the chance to get the couple into rehab slipped away.

They refused to get on the plane. Holets drove them back to the RV park where they would spend the night.

"They found reasons to hold it off," he said with tears in his eyes. "That's a testament to how strong addiction is. But what it makes people do isn't logical, sometimes, but it's very powerful."

As the sun set on an emotional day, Champ struggled to explain why she couldn't follow through.

"I wasn't ready to get on that plane," she said.

Despite the setback, Champ recognizes what a gift it's been to have Holets in her life.

"He's my personal angel on Earth here," she said. "I don't know where he came from, but I'm really happy, I'm really happy he's here."

Holets refuses to give up. His ultimate goal from the moment he offered to adopt baby Hope was to get her parents sober and in a recovery program. He says he won't abandon them and he won't walk away.

He's confident they will come around. "I firmly believe that in my heart," Holets said. "At some point, enough will be enough."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307332

Reported Deaths: 7095
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20757248
Hinds19869408
Harrison17475302
Rankin13307275
Jackson13095243
Madison9886210
Lee9854169
Jones8289160
Forrest7522146
Lauderdale7185237
Lowndes6261144
Lamar610284
Lafayette6026117
Washington5279132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4440103
Pearl River4418139
Warren4277118
Marshall4267100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4056132
Union403575
Neshoba3984176
Lincoln3869107
Hancock371985
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3177104
Scott310472
Yazoo304268
Alcorn297664
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265679
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Grenada254882
Covington254380
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237647
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182354
Stone179131
Clarke176676
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163130
Yalobusha158636
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite119941
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95126
Humphreys94332
Franklin81723
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518588

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753351487
Mobile37698798
Madison33829494
Tuscaloosa25245443
Montgomery23942565
Shelby23094238
Baldwin20617300
Lee15510165
Calhoun14277311
Morgan14137268
Etowah13660345
Marshall11952219
Houston10379278
Elmore9988200
Limestone9806147
Cullman9467188
St. Clair9422234
Lauderdale9208227
DeKalb8745181
Talladega8042171
Walker7087275
Jackson6753110
Autauga6715103
Blount6480135
Colbert6200130
Coffee5397112
Dale4766110
Russell428238
Franklin419882
Chilton4080109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3892146
Escambia387574
Dallas3526149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305475
Lawrence295295
Winston272272
Bibb256258
Marengo248561
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218675
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176741
Monroe171240
Washington163838
Macon154348
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58624
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