It was a full circle moment for Natalie Young when she recently graduated
from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Academy and received her badge from
the Colorado sheriff’s office.

The officer who pinned her badge was none other than the man who
rescued her as a dangerously frail six-week-old baby from a drug house in
Escondido, California.

On November 2, 2000, Officer Jeff Valdivia was called to help assist with the
arrest of a parole violator at a known drug house in Escondido. When he
arrived at the home he found the conditions to be deplorable.
He witnessed a teenage mother who showed signs of recent drug use and a
severely underweight baby girl. Although he had never taken a child into
custody before, his fellow officers convinced him it was the right thing to

A few weeks after Valdivia rescued the baby, Shelley and Jeff Young,
received a call about a potential baby to adopt.
“They said ‘we have a baby for you but she is very sick from head to toe. It’s
hard to look at her and she will always be very disabled,’ ” Shelley told The
San Diego Union-Tribune. “It was rough. But we’re strong believers. It says
in the Bible to help the widows and orphans, so we were all in. We said
we’d take her, but it was beyond challenging.”
The baby, who became Natalie Young, experienced challenges in the
beginning of her life, but once the Youngs moved to Colorado, she began to

“I had problems as a baby that I had to work through,” Natalie said. “I did
all the sports I wanted to do. I was flexible and would do anything. I never
wanted to let my problems stop me.”
Once she learned how she was rescued as a newborn, she set her sights on
becoming a police officer. She wanted to be like the officer responsible for
saving her life.
Natalie also wanted to find a way to thank him.
Five years ago Shelley enrolled in the El Paso County sheriff’s academy,
graduated, and became a dispatcher. She used her contacts and was able to
locate the officer who saved her daughter’s life.
Weeks before Natalie’s graduation ceremony Shelley reached out to
Valdivia and explained the situation. Would he be willing to travel from
California to Colorado for the special occasion?