This Albuquerque Policeman Chose Hope in Adopting Opioid-Addicted Baby
As Christmas draws near we tend to focus on what feels warm and fuzzy. As the holiday song says: “Let your heart be light. From now on our troubles will be far away.” However, this Albuquerque police officer chose to embrace the harsher side of reality and gave the gift of hope to this opioid-addicted baby. Maybe what this broken world needs a little bit more of this Christmas is a heart opened by love itself.
They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. What Ryan Holets saw that afternoon changed his life forever. It was an ordinary day in the life of a policeman, and if you would have asked him how much he had seen he probably would have replied that he had seen it all. He responded to a possible theft at a convenience store, but it was what he saw outside that September day in Albuquerque, New Mexico that shook him to the core.
A couple hunched on the grass, backs pressed against the dirty cement of the convenience store’s back wall. They didn’t even blink against the blinding glare of the sun as the shadows reached out in unison with the woman’s arm. In her hand she held a loaded syringe as she injected it into her companion’s outstretched arm. In her womb she held a baby girl, writhing in the relentless grip of the drug that coursed silent and deadly through her mother’s veins.
Ryan Holets flipped on his body camera as he approached the couple and began to scold the dazed, 35 year-old-woman. “You’re going to kill your baby,” he said as the body cam recorded the incident. “Why do you have to be doing that stuff? It’s going to ruin your baby.”
The addict’s eyes flooded with tears as her broken heart leaked a bit. Crystal Champ, who had been homeless for two years and a heroin and crystal meth addict from her teen years, later told CNN: “I was like how dare you judge me. You have no idea how hard this is. I know what a horrible person I am and what a horrible situation I’m in.”
Ryan questioned the couple for almost eleven minutes as the body camera faithfully recorded. Amidst the emotional dialogue, Champ told Ryan that she desperately hoped someone would adopt her baby. She said her words triggered a change in the officer’s demeanor. She stated: “He became a human being instead of a police officer.”
An Offering of Hope
Ryan chose not to charge the couple with drug possession, but something wouldn’t let him walk away. Today he knows it was the whisper of God. After a moment, he pulled out a well-loved picture of his wife and four children. As he showed it to Crystal Champ, he offered right then and there to adopt her baby.
Ryan later admitted about the life-changing moment: “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.”
Champ said in her shock she looked at him to “make sure his eyes were genuine and that I could see his soul”. She knew her prayers had been answered.
Ryan jumped back in his police car and drove to tell his wife, Rebecca, who was at a going-away party for a friend only a few miles away. He walked right up to her as she held their 10 month old baby and told her he had just offered to adopt the unborn baby of the woman who sat there shooting up heroin.
Rebecca Holets never hesitated after Ryan delivered the shocking news because she knew it was the call of God. They had discussed adoption as a couple, but they had been waiting until the baby was a little older. “He already knew my heart on the issue, and he knew that I would be totally onboard with it,” Rebecca said.
On October 12th, 2017, Crystal Champ gave birth to a beautiful baby girl the Holets named Hope. “I love you. Goodbye,” the mother whispered to her daughter, not knowing if her addiction would allow her to ever see her daughter again. Rebecca promised Crystal that she would and begged her to take care of herself.
Baby Hope got a happy ending. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for the thousands of babies addicted to opioids with a condition known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or NAS.
Opioid Addiction Does Not Always Have A Happy Ending
The National Institute of Drug Abuse estimates that a baby suffering from opioid withdrawal is born at the alarming rate of every 25 minutes in the United States. These babies face developmental challenges and several weeks of medical treatment to recover and detox. In 2016, the Center for Disease Control released a study that determined that the number of neonatal abstinence cases had tripled since 1999.
Baby Hope’s future is looking bright, but the shadows still lurk as the Holets trust in the power of love and God to save her life. They do want her birth parents to be included in her life if circumstances allow. Crystal Champ described her daughter’s adoptive parents as “a light in this world” and said, “There needs to be more people like Ryan and his wife and their family.”
Ryan and Rebecca Holets are a Christian family who recognized adoption as a calling. As a child with NAS is born every 25 minutes, it is a calling more people need to recognize as this world grows darker by the minute. This world needs the light of Jesus Christ reflected in Christian families worldwide. The Bible says in I Peter 4:8 that love covers a multitude of sins, and this was indeed the case for Crystal Champ and baby Hope.
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