Albuquerque policeman Ryan Holets made headlines in December when CNN published a report about his decision to adopt the baby of a pregnant, homeless drug addict he had encountered while on duty.
And now, the father of five — who was a special guest at Tuesday’s State of the Union alongside his wife Rebecca and newborn baby, Hope — tells the news outlet that Hope’s birth mother Crystal Champ and her partner Tom Key are approximately 40 days sober.
“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,” Holets, 27, told CNN’s New Day on Wednesday. “So I don’t know if it’s past 40 days or just about there. But 40 days sober, that’s incredible.”
“It’s a hope I always had,” he added of their sobriety. “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.”
Holets first met Champ in September, while responding to a possible theft from a convenience store. She and Key were at a nearby grassy area, leaning against a cement wall and shooting up heroin in broad daylight.
Champ was 8 months pregnant at the time.
“You’re going to kill your baby,” Holets told Champ at the time, his bodycam recording the moment in footage later aired by CNN. “Why do you have to be doing that stuff? It’s going to ruin your baby.”
In response, Champ broke down in tears. During their 11 minute conversation, she revealed she desperately hoped someone would adopt her baby. And seemingly without thinking, Holets offered to do just that.
“I try to do my best,” he told CNN Wednesday on his decision to not charge them. “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?”
Hope was born on Oct. 12, one month earlier than her due date. She was treated for heroin withdrawal, though Holets said in December that doctors wouldn’t know the true effects until she is older.
A GoFundMe page was started to help Champ and Key pay for drug rehabilitation. Initially, the pair were reluctant to get help — especially Champ, who has battled addiction since she was a teenager and had been homeless for more than two years, spending up to $50 a day on scoring hits of heroin simply so she can “get well.”
“I did give up. I just decided this was going to be my life,” Champ told CNN — adding that she tried to multiple times to get clean, but always failed. “It just keeps coming back and ruining my life.”
Eventually, the duo entered a live-in rehabilitation center.
Holets revealed CNN on Wednesday that they will always have a relationship to Hope. “At this point, as they are in recovery, we’re sending them pictures we’re giving them updates,” he said. “We want them to be able to continue to see her and be in their life. I think she’s going to know how much they loved her. And that’s never going to be in question.”
At Tuesday’s State of the Union, Donald Trump took time to praise Holets for “breaking down walls between drug addicts and police officers to help save lives.”
“As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best Americans,” the president said during his address, the crowd giving Holets and his wife a standing ovation. “Ryan and Rebecca, you embody the goodness of our nation. Thank you.”