Story highlightsA chance encounter changed three lives in AlbuquerqueThere’s another chapter in the lives of the police officer and the homeless woman
Albuquerque, New Mexico (CNN)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.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.Police officer adopts homeless mother's opioid-addicted newborn 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.Read MoreBeyond the Call of Duty
Do you know an officer who has gone above and beyond what the job requires? E-mail us at [email protected]
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.JUST WATCHEDCop adopts homeless addict’s newborn babyReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
Cop adopts homeless addict’s newborn baby 03:44 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 heartbreakThis 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.Holets, left, and a interventionist speak with Key and Champ about going to rehab. 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. Photos: 'Baby Hope' and her extended family Photos: 'Baby Hope' and her extended family Hope Holets was born in October after an Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officer agreed to adopt the child from her homeless mother, who is addicted to opioids. Police officer Ryan Holets and his family say Hope suffered the painful process of detoxing and withdrawals and even endured methadone treatment.Hide Caption 1 of 6 Photos: 'Baby Hope' and her extended family Holets walks with Hope’s birth parents, Tom Key and Crystal Champ.Hide Caption 2 of 6 Photos: 'Baby Hope' and her extended family In September, Holets found Key and a pregnant Champ shooting up heroin in broad daylight behind a convenience store.Hide Caption 3 of 6 Photos: 'Baby Hope' and her extended family Champ said she has battled addiction since she was a teenager and has been homeless for more than two years. She’s tried multiple times to get clean but failed.Hide Caption 4 of 6 Photos: 'Baby Hope' and her extended family After Holets showed Champ a picture of his wife and four children, he offered to adopt Champ’s baby. (The faces of the Holets children have been blurred by CNN.) “I was led by God to take the chance,” he said. “God brought us all together. I really don’t have any other way to explain it.” Champ hopes that when Hope grows older, she’ll understand how much her mother and father loved her — and that placing her with a loving family was the best thing to do for her future.Hide Caption 5 of 6 Photos: 'Baby Hope' and her extended family The Holets family knows that their new baby will probably face trials and troubles. The threat of developmental issues is real. “Whatever struggles she has, we’ll be there, and we’ll work through it,” Holets said. “And that makes me happy.”Hide Caption 6 of 6“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. Follow CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter
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.”