ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Police officers often tell you that there is no routine call when patrolling the streets.
But when the Albuquerque police officer, Ryan Holets, responded to a possible robbery at a nearby store, it had all the characteristics of a mundane task that he could quickly erase from the call log.
It did not turn out that way.
When Ryan left the store on September 23, he noticed the corner of his eye a couple sitting in the grbad against a concrete wall. Apparently, the man and the woman were shooting heroin in broad daylight behind the convenience store.
Ryan lit his body camera and approached the couple, but he was not ready for what he saw. The woman was in the middle of injecting a needle into her partner's arm. Then he realized that the woman was pregnant.
"Not every day I see such a scene and it saddens me a lot," he told CNN.
Crystal Champ, 35, seemed a little dazed and agitated in the body camera footage as you listen to Ryan begin to scold her. She told the officer that she was almost 8 months pregnant and that she was an addict.
"You're going to kill your baby," Ryan is heard to say in the camera's body images. "Why do you have to be doing that? It's going to ruin your baby."
In the video, you see Champ crying after hearing this. She told CNN that the officer's words were cut deeply because the idea of having an abortion was never an option for her.
"I went like, how dare you judge me? You have no idea how hard this is," Champ told CNN. "I know how horrible I am and the horrible situation I am in"
& # 39; Became a human being instead of a police officer & # 39;
Champ, who has battled addiction since she was a teenager, sat down for an interview with CNN outside a tent where she currently lives in Albuquerque.
Champ has been homeless for more than two years. He detailed a lifetime fighting heroin addiction and crystalline methamphetamine and how the drug controls every moment of his life, spending up to $ 50 a day to score heroin hits simply so he can "get better." He has tried several times to clean himself, but failed.
"I gave in. I just decided that this was going to be my life," said Champ. "Keep coming back and ruining my life."
In the images of the body camera, Ryan asks Champ and his companion for almost 11 minutes. She concentrated on Champ and tried to find out if she fully understood the danger the drug use was inflicting on her unborn baby.
In the course of the conversation, Champ emotionally told Ryan that he was desperately waiting for someone to adopt his baby. Champ says that the words triggered a change in the officer's attitude.
"He became a human being instead of a police officer," Champ said.
Ryan called for not accusing the couple of drug possession but he could not shake the voice in his mind telling him that this was his chance to help and truly make a difference.
Ryan showed Champ a picture of his wife and four children, including a 10-month-old baby, and at that time offered to adopt his baby.
"I was led by God to take the risk," Ryan said. "God joined us all, I really do not have another way to explain it."
Champ was stunned and says she looked at him to "make sure that his eyes were genuine and that I could see his soul". He realized instantly, his prayers were answered.
But there was a problem, Ryan offered to adopt Champ's baby but had not said anything to his wife.
Rebecca Holets was only a few miles away at a farewell party for a friend. Ryan jumped in his police car and drove to the party to break the news.
Ryan approached his wife, who was holding her 10-month-old baby, and said she had just met a pregnant woman who was shooting heroin and offered to adopt the baby.
The couple had discussed adopting a child in the future, but they were waiting for their youngest child to grow up a little more. When Ryan delivered the shocking news at the party, Rebecca never hesitated.
"He already knew my heart on the subject and I knew he would be totally on board with him," Rebecca said.
The Holets say they see many in the world around them that desperately need stability. They know they can not help all the children, but Rebecca knew she could take on the challenge of raising another baby.
"We feel that God has called us to do that," Rebecca said. "He has been in our hearts for a while"
On October 12, Crystal Champ gave birth to a girl and the Holets family named her Hope.
Ryan was in the hospital for delivery and remembered the surreal turn of events that brought a young police officer to this point with a pregnant and homeless heroin addict.
A few days later, when Rebecca entered the children's room with Crystal Champ, it would be the last time the birth mother would see the newborn. Rebecca saw Crystal guess how beautiful the girl looked.
"I love you, goodbye," Rebecca reminded Crystal telling the baby. "And then he turns to me and says, 'Take care of me.' And I told her, 'I'll take good care of her and take good care of yourself.' It was super emotional. '
Rebecca said from that moment , she was the new mother of Baby Hope.
Opioid babies are born every 25 minutes
Baby Hope represents an alarming trend in the United States, babies born addicted to opioids.
The medical term for a baby exposed to opioid abuse in the womb is neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in 2016 that determined that the number of cases of neonatal abstinence tripled between 1999 and 2013.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that a baby who suffers from opiate withdrawal is born every 25 minutes in the United States and that these babies face developmental problems.
Dr. Heather Pratt-Chavez is a pediatrician at the University of New Mexico, the same hospital where Baby Hope was born. It specializes in babies born with exposure to opioids and says that babies usually need several weeks of medical treatment, which may include morphine and methadone, to help detoxify the newborn.
The Holets say that Baby Hope underwent the painful process of detoxification and extraction and even endured the methadone treatment.
Infants who have NAS generally suffer from abnormal sleep patterns, are difficult to comfort, and have problems feeding. Withdrawal symptoms are just as intense for babies as for adults.
"I look at their faces and I see their eyebrows furrowed and I hope their faces relax," Dr. Pratt-Chavez told CNN.
Many experts say Intensive intervention in early child care is crucial to ensure a healthy future for the baby. After the initial medical treatment, Dr. Pratt-Chavez says that skin-to-skin contact is crucial to reduce stress levels and ensure more enriching development.
Hope for the future
Baby Hope is no longer in the hospital. The Holets family takes her to weekly check-ups, but most are beginning to adjust to her new routine.
The future of Crystal Champ is bleak. She is still fighting addiction and still homeless. Ironically, Crystal Champ was also handed over for adoption as a newborn. She remembers the lyrics of a song that her adoptive parents used to sing when she was a child:
"I am Crystal, I am adopted, I am loved, loved, loved".
But hope that when Hope grows up, understand how much her mother and father loved her. And that placing her with a loving family was the best thing she could do for her future.
"You need to have a safe environment and a stable life and be able to grow, nourish and be safe and secure, and all these things that I can not give you at this time," said Champ.
Crystal and the Holets marvel at the unexplained course of events that brought them together in the parking lot of that store in September.
Ryan calls him "Providence" and he still can not believe that he met the parents of his future son in what was supposed to be an unforgettable call.
Crystal calls it "serendipity" and describes the adoptive parents of her baby as a "light in this world."
"There must be more people like Ryan and his wife and family in this world," he said. .
The Holets know that their new baby will probably face trials and problems in the future. The threat of development problems is real. But they rely on love and nurturing to save the life of Baby Hope.
Rebecca says that as Hope grows older, and when the time comes, they will share the details of how it was adopted. And they want their biological parents, Crystal Champ and Tom Key, to have a place in their lives. But the path to overcome addiction is unpredictable.
"Whatever difficulties you have, we'll be there and we'll fix it," Ryan said. "And that makes me happy".