In 2017, a California cop named Jesse Whitten of the Santa Rosa Police Department met a homeless pregnant woman while on patrol.
Little did he know that he would be parenting the child she was carrying a year later.
Whitten, who was 33 at the time, was asked by the baby’s mother if he and his wife would adopt her child. In August 2018, the adoption became official.
The now father of four said he “fell in love right away” with his new daughter, Harlow Maisey.
“She’s so adorable,” he said. “She will cry if she needs something, obviously as babies do, but as soon as we would touch her, she’d immediately stop crying. She knew right away that she was safe.”
Whitten, who is also dad to three young girls named Reese, Kendall, and Stella, met Harlow’s biological mother while she was still pregnant with her. Aside from homelessness, the woman was struggling with drug addiction.
“We developed sort of a friendship in a strange sort of way,” Whitten told KTVU. “Whenever I saw her on patrol and dealt with her, we’d have a conversation.”
His wife, Ashley Whitten, joined him for a ride-along one day. That’s when she met the homeless woman for the first time.
“My wife noticed the woman was pregnant and she placed my wife’s hand on her belly to let her feel who is now our daughter,” Whitten said.
The officer had offered to bring the woman, in her late 30s, to the shelter. He even drove her to a detox and rehab facility at one point. But no matter how many times she tried getting clean, she would always fail.
On February 9, 2018, the woman gave birth to a baby girl. Unfortunately, baby Harlow was born with heroin in her system.
The mother was clearly not in a good place to parent, so the county asked her if she wanted to arrange for Harlow’s emergency placement in foster care. Instead, she asked them to call Whitten.
The officer received the call on Valentine’s Day while their family was at a party. Although the woman had previously asked him if he and his wife would be willing to adopt her baby, the officer didn’t know if she was serious about her request. As it turns out, she really meant it.
That night, the couple left their daughters with their pastor and drove to the hospital to meet the newborn. But first, they stopped by the birth mother’s room to confirm her intentions.
“We wondered, ‘are you asking us to keep her forever?’ “And she was saying ‘I want you to have her forever.'” Whitten recalled.
Four days later, they brought Harlow home and became her foster parents for six months. Meanwhile, the woman stood firm with her decision to give away her child.
“She said she wants her to grow up in a home that’s loving and kind, and she had met both of us,” Whitten said.
On August 30, 2018, the couple officially adopted the baby in the presence of their kids, friends, and colleagues.
When the judge asked the three girls if they wanted Harlow as their sister, they answered with an unanimous “yes.” It was a very happy moment for everyone present.
Harlow Maisey’s middle name was given by her biological mother, and the Whittens kept it as a way to honor her.
“This is to say, ‘She loved you and we loved you and we both named you,’” Whitten explained.
This experience inspired the couple to continue advocating for foster children.
“Through our experience, we are so sure that no child is broken and they don’t need us to fix them,” Ashley said. “They just need love.”
Despite already having three children of their own, this couple opened their heart and home to this baby. What an amazing family!
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