STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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 4:55 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2017 4:55 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."

West Lafayette
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 39°
Kokomo
Overcast
42° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 38°
Rensselaer
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 37°
Fowler
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 37°
Williamsport
Overcast
38° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 32°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Frankfort
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 40°
Delphi
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 39°
Monticello
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 41°
Logansport
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 41°
More rainfall ahead.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 162607

Reported Deaths: 4130
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25871792
Lake14222358
St. Joseph9532166
Elkhart9156137
Allen8552230
Hamilton6335114
Vanderburgh609062
Tippecanoe391815
Porter341650
Hendricks3367134
Monroe333238
Johnson3239130
Delaware307675
Clark303163
Vigo272440
Madison248096
LaPorte236161
Cass228523
Warrick201565
Kosciusko198427
Floyd185868
Howard168466
Bartholomew146958
Dubois145526
Marshall145126
Wayne137931
Henry131330
Grant131039
Boone128050
Hancock123144
Noble121935
Jackson118517
Dearborn101728
Morgan98940
Lawrence94737
Gibson92812
Daviess91334
Clinton90316
Shelby89431
LaGrange82815
Knox81310
Harrison79924
Posey7667
Putnam76616
DeKalb75811
Fayette73918
Jasper6655
Miami6615
Steuben6578
Montgomery62022
White61016
Greene57338
Scott54513
Decatur52539
Adams5237
Whitley4796
Ripley4748
Clay4587
Sullivan45514
Wells44911
Wabash4389
Starke4378
Huntington4365
Orange42125
Spencer4126
Washington3863
Franklin38125
Randolph38110
Jennings37913
Fulton3764
Perry36114
Jefferson3525
Pike34318
Carroll33813
Jay3316
Fountain3193
Tipton28223
Vermillion2681
Parke2504
Newton23611
Blackford2344
Rush2304
Owen2111
Martin2040
Pulaski1753
Crawford1631
Brown1463
Ohio1337
Union1140
Benton1100
Switzerland970
Warren891
Unassigned0236

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events