The story of Officer Ryan Holets, 27, captivated the nation in December 2017, and again when Holets, his wife, Rebecca, and their adopted baby girl, Hope, were invited as special guests to President Trump’s State of the Union Address in January 2018.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
In December, CNN reported on Holets’ first encounter with the drug-addicted mother of “Baby Hope.” Responding to a possible convenience store robbery, the Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officer spotted Crystal Champ and her partner, Tom Key, sitting in the grass by a wall next to the store, about to inject heroin in broad daylight.
Holets, who turned on his body camera, was approaching the couple when he noticed Champ was pregnant.Screenshot/Twitter
Holets informed Champ of the damage using drugs could cause her unborn baby, causing Champ to break down, acknowledging her desperate situation at 8 months pregnant and homeless.
As Holets would later go on to say in a video posted on GoFundMe:
“When I first saw them that day I was really upset that they were doing drugs and that Crystal was doing drugs while she was pregnant, initially. But then I began to look at her beyond the fact that she’s not just a junkie, she’s not [just] an addict, she’s a human being.
I saw more than an attitude that didn’t care about anybody. I saw a mother who loved her child who was at the same time held captive and imprisoned by her addiction, and she recognized that.”
As Dearly previously reported, Champ admitted she hoped someone would adopt her baby, accepting the fact she didn’t have the abilities nor resources to care for a child.
Champ, 35, had been addicted to heroin and crystal meth since she was a teenager and had been living on the streets for the past two years.
Holets showed Champ a photo of his wife and four children, including their ten-month-old baby, and told Champ he would adopt her child. Champ agreed.
On October 12, 2017, Champ gave birth to Hope, a name bestowed by the Holets, and the baby girl has been with the police officer and his family ever since.
Due to the national attention that the story had received, Holets wrote on GoFundMe that a rehabilitation center offered Champ and Key a chance at recovery through a full scholarship to attend the facility.
Nearly two months after the birth of Baby Hope, however, Champ and Key continued struggling for sobriety. They made it as far as the airport with a special treatment counselor before turning around, CNN reported in December.
Champ told CNN at the time: “I’m scared I’ll get clean and not find the comfort that I find in my life like this.”
Holets wrote on GoFundMe that the couple’s decision to attend treatment was hard, but, ultimately, one they made:
Their decision to enter recovery was not easy and it was clear that the decision would have to come from within them. I am now elated to share that both Tom and Crystal decided to do so and have begun the long road to freedom from addiction. They are committing themselves heart and soul to this process and I am very proud of them both.
According to People, in an interview with CNN following the president’s State of Union Address, in which President Trump commended Holets and his wife for embodying “the goodness of our nation,” Holets shared an update on the couple’s progress since seeking rehabilitation:
“I lose track of time with everything that’s going on, [but] I was recently talking to Crystal on the phone and she was saying she’s excited because their 40 days mark is coming up. So I don’t know if it’s past 40 days or just about there. But 40 days sober, that’s incredible.”
Holets expressed his gratitude for the generosity of support the couple had received:
“It’s a hope I always had. I always had faith that we would get to this point. But that’s one of the things I was so incredible grateful to [CNN’s Ed Lavandera] and the story is that it went to such a large platform that someone actually went forward to help them.”
The father of five also revealed his motivation for intervening the day he met Champ:
“I try to do my best. I feel that anybody can say anything, but it’s what you do that matters. I could have, for example, told Crystal about all the resources that are available. But if I didn’t actually reach out and help her, who else was going to do it, really?”
As for Baby Hope, Holets said he shares pictures and updates with Champ and Key while they seek rehabilitation and has plans to involve the couple in his daughter’s future, saying in part: “I think she’s going to know how much they loved her. And that’s never going to be in question.”
Champ had once admitted to giving up on sobriety, saying she had tried to get clean numerous times but failed—the most recent attempt having led to life on the streets: “I did give up. I just decided this was going to be my life,” Champ told CNN. “It just keeps coming back and ruining my life.”
But Holets has maintained, in addition to feeling divinely guided to adopt Champ’s baby, it was her humanity—and perhaps hope—that called him to act.L-Tom R-CrystalGoFundMe
“Her humanity shone through her addiction and the love for her child shone through and it affected me in ways difficult to describe,” he recently told CNN.
In a message on GoFundMe the couple has insisted Holets, and God, deserve all the praise:
Hi, this is Tom and Crystal, and we just wanted to say thank you for all your prayer, praise, and financial help. But the truth is that Ryan is the true catalyst for every thing that has happened. He is the one who deserves the praises (after God that is). Thank you for everything.
Deserving of praise, indeed. As are all who fight to save others—and themselves—from the perils of drug addiction.
Watch Holets’ video from GoFundMe below: