Police officer adopts baby of homeless woman he became friends with while on patrol

Jesse Whitten, a Santa Rosa Police Department officer, met a pregnant homeless woman while on patrol in 2017.

He didn’t know that he would become the father of the child she was carrying one 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. The adoption was finalized in August 2018.

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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.”

Ashley Whitten and Jesse Whitten
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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. Apart from being homeless, the woman was also suffering from 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.”

Ashley Whitten, his wife, joined him on a ride-along one morning. 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 offered to take the woman, who was in her 30s, to the shelter. He drove her to a detox center and rehab facility once. Despite numerous attempts to get clean, she would still fail.

Ashley Whitten and Jesse Whitten holding baby Harlow Maisey
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The woman gave birth to a little girl on February 9, 2018. Unfortunately, Harlow was born with heroin in the 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 not 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. It turned out she really meant it.

The couple drove to the hospital to meet their newborn, leaving their daughters with their pastor that night. 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.

The Whitten family in the courtroom during Harlow Maisey's adoption
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They brought Harlow home four days later and became Harlow’s foster parents for six month. The woman remained firm in her decision to give up 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.

The couple adopted the baby on August 30, 2018 in the presence their children, friends, and coworkers.

When the judge asked the three girls if they wanted Harlow as their sister, they answered with a 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.

The Whitten family
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“This is to say, ‘She loved you and we loved you and we both named you,’” Whitten explained.

The couple felt inspired to continue advocating on behalf of 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.”

This couple, despite having three children, opened their hearts and homes to this baby. What an amazing family!

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