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Cop who adopted addict's baby invited to SOTU

A police officer who adopted a baby from a homeless addict will be among the first lady's guests at President Trump's State of the Union address. CNN's Ed Lavandera reports.

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 10:42 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2018 10:42 PM

When police Officer Ryan Holets shared the riveting and unlikely story of how his family last year adopted a baby born to a homeless woman addicted to heroin, he could not imagine that his story also captured the eyes of the White House.

The next chapter in this story that garnered worldwide attention will bring the Holets family to Washington as first lady Melania Trump's guests at the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on Monday named Holets, along with several others, as people who "represent the unbreakable American spirit."

"We have entered the twilight zone for sure," Holets recently reflected as he tried to grasp the magnitude of bringing his New Mexico family to a high-profile stage.

The Trump administration hopes to use the Holets family's story to highlight its efforts in fighting opioid abuse across the country.

Holets' mission is more humble and a message to help change the country's view of those trapped in the grips of addiction and homelessness.

"It's changed my perspective forever," the officer said. "I can't drive anywhere without noticing people that are homeless. I can't help but notice people that are panhandling. Then I think about everything they've gone through."

Chance encounter

On September 23, Officer Ryan Holets was training a young officer on the streets of Albuquerque. They responded to a possible theft at a convenience store. That call turned out to be a false alarm, but as Holets was leaving the scene he spotted a homeless couple sitting on a patch of grass appearing to be injecting themselves with some kind of drug.

Holets flipped on his body camera and walked up to the pair holding a needle, and that's when he noticed that the woman, Crystal Champ, was pregnant. It turned out she was eight months' pregnant. Holets was stunned and heartbroken.

"Why do you have to be doing that stuff?" Holets can be heard saying to Champ in the body camera footage. "It's going to ruin your baby. You're going to kill your baby."

Champ, 35, immediately breaks down into tears. Champ says heroin and crystal meth, at that moment, had absolute control over her life.

"I'm the first one to know how bad my situation is," Champ told CNN. "I know what a horrible person I am."

Holets says a crazy idea started to bloom in his mind. A voice, he says, told him to offer to adopt the unborn child and that's what he did. Holets says he showed Champ a picture of his family, which included his wife, Rebecca, and four young children.

"I've gotten so tired of seeing so many situations where I want to help but can't," Holets told CNN. "And in that moment, I realized I had a chance to help and to heck with the risks."

The Holets say they see many in the world around them who desperately need stability.

"We feel God has called us to do that," Rebecca Holets said. "It's been on our hearts for a while."

Crystal Champ and the baby's father, Tom Key, agreed to have the Holets family adopt the baby. Hope, a girl, was born on October 12.

Birth parents

Ryan Holets' dedication didn't end when the adoption of Hope was finalized. After the CNN story first aired, several rehabilitation centers offered to help Champ and Key.

In December, an interventionist came to Albuquerque to convince the couple to leave the streets behind and seek treatment. The rehab team arrived at the airport with the couple, but the grip of heroin and drug addiction was so strong that they both unraveled inside the airport and refused to get on the flight.

But a week later, Crystal and Tom left their life in Albuquerque and checked into the Mending Fences rehabilitation center in Florida.

The road to recovery will be long and uncertain, but Ryan Holets and his family say they vow to support Hope's birth parents every step of the way.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1560117

Reported Deaths: 20796
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2118112563
Lake1021301523
Allen964791027
Hamilton75541551
St. Joseph66476761
Elkhart51045634
Vanderburgh50511531
Tippecanoe45721338
Johnson39600527
Hendricks37933463
Porter35132476
Madison30330547
Clark27296331
Vigo26401347
Monroe24100249
LaPorte23921313
Howard23237381
Delaware22453370
Hancock19314220
Bartholomew18980216
Kosciusko18400204
Warrick17733216
Wayne16982303
Floyd16686257
Grant15966300
Morgan15091232
Boone13924138
Dearborn12235113
Shelby12225152
Noble12170142
Henry12027202
Dubois11696152
Marshall11625171
Jackson11111104
Cass10578143
Lawrence10529221
Huntington10523140
DeKalb10482132
Gibson10114127
Montgomery9671144
Harrison9471117
Knox9415125
Whitley902571
Steuben8934105
Putnam8542100
Miami8533135
Clinton849397
Jasper8462116
Jefferson8319127
Wabash8027140
Ripley7504117
Scott685787
Adams6829103
Daviess6825130
White638184
Greene6317112
Clay628975
Decatur6261121
Jennings619781
Wells6090121
Fayette6054122
Posey580148
LaGrange549097
Randolph5364129
Washington528071
Owen5211100
Fountain493681
Spencer467456
Sullivan462066
Fulton450993
Orange449784
Starke448887
Rush433941
Jay432564
Perry409155
Carroll394749
Franklin394650
Vermillion370762
Pike334246
Parke331239
Tipton330475
Blackford282255
Pulaski281775
Brown239856
Newton239761
Benton228921
Crawford224932
Switzerland207914
Martin196722
Warren183922
Union178119
Ohio129216
Unassigned0763

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2515949

Reported Deaths: 31987
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2719422100
Cuyahoga2606673087
Hamilton1758091756
Montgomery1177451651
Summit1089011418
Lucas935321193
Butler83907963
Stark771001431
Lorain64214809
Warren53428489
Mahoning51224930
Lake47591611
Clermont46928452
Delaware41107220
Trumbull39746790
Licking38790416
Medina38646427
Fairfield35828349
Greene34313435
Portage32429366
Clark32361453
Richland29653444
Wood29379301
Allen25875403
Miami24243408
Muskingum23564255
Columbiana23046409
Wayne22093365
Tuscarawas19637428
Marion18616235
Erie18608224
Ashtabula18569362
Scioto18159214
Ross17594260
Pickaway16419181
Hancock16115232
Geauga15511229
Lawrence15094186
Belmont14236248
Union1419584
Huron13908184
Jefferson13656261
Sandusky13268200
Athens12877107
Knox12160201
Seneca12055204
Darke11440202
Ashland11248184
Washington11152172
Auglaize10873147
Crawford10432178
Shelby10402160
Brown10094145
Highland9746151
Fulton9726154
Guernsey9683122
Defiance9567137
Logan9470147
Clinton9428132
Mercer9099112
Madison9032111
Preble8524170
Williams8305138
Putnam8069136
Champaign8040113
Ottawa7971123
Jackson7848121
Perry7514102
Coshocton7411136
Morrow729184
Fayette715992
Pike666689
Hardin6564133
Gallia638891
Adams6227127
Van Wert6065121
Henry602596
Hocking5918105
Wyandot503594
Carroll5009101
Holmes4880167
Paulding426465
Meigs400974
Monroe316468
Harrison299162
Noble296952
Morgan292748
Vinton258646
Unassigned08
Fort Wayne
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Hi: 21° Lo: 2°
Feels Like: -17°
Angola
Cloudy
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Hi: 22° Lo: 7°
Feels Like: -8°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 19° Lo: -2°
Feels Like: -14°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
-2° wxIcon
Hi: 21° Lo: 1°
Feels Like: -17°
Van Wert
Clear
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Hi: 22° Lo: 3°
Feels Like: -9°
Bitterly cold wind chills are expected across the region Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
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