After many years of interacting with the woman for many years through his job, she had decided that there was only one place she wanted her newborn daughter to go.
Santa Rosa Police Officer Jesse Whitten had befriended a homeless woman during the years he had spent on patrol. When she fell pregnant, she decided that the kind police officer and his wife would be the best people to raise her baby girl.
It was Valentine's Day 2018 when Jesse and his wife, Ashley Whitten, received a surprising call from someone at the county asking if they knew the homeless woman. When they were told why, they immediately rushed to the hospital.
The woman had given birth to a daughter, and she had requested, through authorities, that they adopt the baby.
"She had mentioned it briefly, but I didn't know if she meant it or how serious she was about that," recalled Jesse. "We wondered, 'are you asking us to keep her forever?' And she was saying 'I want you to have her forever.'"
When the baby, who they named Harlow, was just four days old, she went home with the Whittens, joining their other three daughters: 7-year-old Reese, 5-year-old Kendall, and 3-year-old Stella, as part of the family.
Harlow was kept with the family for six months as a foster child, pending adoption, but her birth mother never wavered in her decision to let the Whittens raise her baby girl.
"She said she wants her to grow up in a home that's loving and kind, and she had met both of us," Jesse said.
Now, six months later, the courts have approved Harlow's official adoption into the Whitten family.
Her homeless mother is a drug addict, and although Ashley has driven her to a number of different detox programs, she has been unable to kick the habit.
"She made a lot of attempts but it's a really hard thing," Ashley said.
In the meantime, although she had never formally discussed having Jesse and Ashley adopt her baby, looking back, the couple realize she hinted at it during her pregnancy.
Jesse had convinced her to get a prenatal checkup at the hospital, and the woman had been delighted to tell the officer she was having a girl. She had also placed Ashley's hand on her growing belly without Ashley asking, letting her feel her daughter move.
"We didn't do anything that special, we're not unique," insisted Ashley. "The foster care system needs people to show up and when she called us, we showed up."
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