HOPE: A Life-Affirming, Feel-Good Story of a Police Officer’s Act of Compassion
So often, the news is filled with the worst of people.
We almost constantly hear of sexual harassment, abuse, murder, neglect, and cruelty. It’s easy to let these realities weigh us down. We live in a sin-sick world, and that won’t be changing.
In the midst of all this, good things do happen. All the time. Human beings are also kind, selfless, giving, and loving. Individuals, who aren’t necessarily in the spotlight, go out of their way to help others. And frankly, we need the reminder that this good still exists.
Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets is an example of that good. Just this fall, he went out of his way to help a struggling, drug-addicted woman who was hopeless…and pregnant.
While responding to a seemingly routine call, his life, and several other lives, changed forever. For the better.
As Ryan left the convenience store on September 23, 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 but he wasn’t prepared for what he saw. The woman was in the middle of injecting a needle into her companion’s arm. Then he noticed the woman was pregnant.
Crystal Champ, 35, 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 addicted.
“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 video, Champ is seen breaking down in tears after hearing this. She told CNN the officer’s words cut deeply because, even though she’s pro-choice, the idea of having an abortion was never an option for her.
In the course of the conversation, Champ emotionally told Ryan that she desperately hoped someone would adopt her baby. Champ says the words triggered a change in the officer’s demeanor.
“He became a human being instead of a police officer,” Champ said.
Ryan made the call to not charge the couple with drug possession but 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.
“I was led by God to take the chance,” Ryan said. “God brought us all together. I really don’t have any other way to explain it.”
Champ was stunned and says she looked at him to “make sure his eyes were genuine and that I could see his soul.” She realized instantly, her prayers had been answered.
Ryan’s wife, Rebecca took to the idea immediately and knew that adding another baby to their family, one in such desperate of care and love, was something they could do. The Holets were considering adoption for sometime in the future, but this precious unborn life was here, now, and needed help.
In mid-October, the baby – a girl – was born. Ryan and Rebecca named her Hope.
…when Rebecca walked into the nursery with Crystal Champ, it would be the last time the birth mother would see the newborn. Rebecca watched Crystal fawn over how beautiful the little girl looked.“I love you. Goodbye,” Rebecca recalled Crystal saying to the baby. “And then she turns to me and says ‘Take care of her for me.’ And I said, ‘I will take good care of her and you take good care of yourself.’
Like many babies born to drug-addicted mothers, Hope had to endure withdrawal and even some treatment to bring her tiny body back from neonatal opioid dependency into beginning of life health. Thankfully, the adoptive family successfully saw her through that and according to them, are getting settled into a regular routine. The future may hold some very serious medical challenges for Hope, and the Holets are aware of that. Despite any difficulty on the road ahead, they are grateful for the blessings of this life, brought to them in an entirely unexpected way.
Ryan calls it “providence” and still can’t believe that he met the parents of his future child on what was supposed to be an unmemorable call.
Crystal Champ, Hope’s birth mother, views the events as extraordinary, too.
Crystal calls it “serendipity” and describes the adoptive parents of her baby girl as a “light in this world.”“There needs to be more people like Ryan and his wife and their family in this world,” she said.
Ryan and Rebecca are keen on including Crystal and the birth father in Hope’s life as she gets older. While addiction is certainly difficult to overcome, the Holets are eager to be an encouragement. And with hearts like theirs, who knows what kind of impact they’ll have as the years progress.
The story of Hope’s rescue and adoption says much about the inherent worth of each individual. Crystal Champ’s life is filled with drug dependency. Though we may prefer to forget it, women in similar circumstances find themselves pregnant just like she did and also without support or much hope for the future. Such a reality may prompt some to abort their children out of fear. And honestly, I’m sure we can all see how they could come to that conclusion.