Police officer honored for adopting homeless mother’s opioid-addicted newborn

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The police officer who adopted a homeless woman's opioid-addicted newborn received an award Monday for his act of kindness.

On Sept. 23, Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets responded to a possible theft at a nearby convenience store.

When he left the store, he noticed out of the corner of his eye a couple sitting on the grass against a cement wall. It appeared the man and woman were shooting up heroin in broad daylight behind the convenience store.

Ryan turned on his body camera and approached the couple. As he got closer, he noticed a pregnant woman injecting a needle into her companion's arm.

The woman, 35-year-old Crystal Champ, looked slightly dazed and agitated in the body camera footage as you hear Ryan begin to scold her. She told the officer that she was almost 8 months pregnant and an addict.

"You're going to kill your baby," Ryan is heard saying on the bodycam footage. "Why do you have to be doing that stuff?" It's going to ruin your baby."

In the course of the conversation, Champ emotionally told Ryan that she desperately hoped someone would adopt her baby.

Ryan made the call to not charge the couple with drug possession but said he couldn't 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 in that moment offered to adopt her baby.

During a small ceremony at Albuquerque City Hall on Monday, Holt said the baby, now named Hope, had heroin and crystal meth in her system and had to detox for about two weeks.

The city's mayor, Tim Keller, presented an "Outstanding Service to the Community" award to Holets, calling him a hero and a role model.

“We did not expect it would go this big,” he told the Albuquerque Journal. “We are thankful the message is getting out. That it’s putting a face on addiction.”

The Holets agreed to pay for counseling for Champ and the baby's father. They also paid attorney's fees for the adoption.

“I wasn’t planning on growing it [his family] this fast,” he said. “But God has changed my heart. We view children as a blessing.”

The adoption is expected to become final by the end of the year.