Police Officer Adopts Homeless Heroin User's Baby

By Victoria Kim 12/07/17

An Albuquerque police officer made the snap decision when he came across a couple shooting up behind a convenience store.


When police officer Ryan Holets approached a homeless couple shooting up behind a convenience store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he had no idea that his life was about to change.

In Holets’ first encounter with 35-year-old Crystal Champ and Tom Key, which was caught on body cam footage, the officer confronts them for using heroin in plain view, then notices that Champ is pregnant. She tells Holets that she is seven or eight months along. 

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

In a separate interview with CNN, Champ tells her story. She has been homeless for more than two years, and says her life is controlled by crystal meth and heroin. She has tried multiple times to get off the drugs, but always circled back to spending $50 for heroin every day just so she can “get well.” She now lives in a tent with Tom Key next to a highway.

“I did give up,” she said. “I just decided that this was gonna be my life. It just keeps coming back and ruining my life.”

During the couple’s encounter with Holets, Champ became emotional when he asked about her baby. “He just became a human being instead of a police officer.” 

She said that she was hoping someone would adopt her baby. Before the officer could give it a second thought, he offered to give the child a home. “I was led by God to take the chance. God brought us all together. I really don’t have any other way to explain it,” says Holets, who was already a father of four, including a 10-month-old.

He let the couple go and rushed to run the idea by his wife Rebecca. “He already knew my heart on the issue and he knew that I would be totally onboard with it,” she said. According to CNN, the couple had been planning to adopt at some point in their lives. “We feel God has called us to do that. It’s been on our hearts for a while.” 

Crystal Champ gave birth to Hope Holets on October 12. Hope was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), a result of her mother’s addictions. According to the CDC, the incidence of babies born with NAS increased by 300% from 1999 to 2013. Hope had to undergo detox and withdrawal, which is just as painful for infants, before she was placed on a methadone treatment.

Her condition puts her at a higher risk for developmental issues, but she already has a better chance at living a healthy life thanks to her new family. CNN notes that skin-to-skin touch is “crucial in lowering stress levels and ensuring the most nurturing development.”

“Whatever struggles she has, we’ll be there and we’ll work through it,” said Ryan Holets. “And that makes me happy.” The family plans to tell Hope about her birth parents when she’s older. They want Crystal and Tom to be involved in her life too.

“She needs to have a safe environment and a stable life and be able to grow and be nurtured and be safe and secure and all of these things I can’t give her right now,” says Crystal.

“There needs to be more people like Ryan and his wife and their family in this world.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr