'Her Smile Is the Best Thing': Cop Adopts Baby of a Homeless Woman He Helped While on Duty

Ayesha Muhammad
Dec 18, 2021
02:20 A.M.
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While feeling the belly of a homeless woman, a police officer's wife didn't know she was touching her future child. On Valentine's Day in 2018, the couple discovered that the same woman wanted them to adopt her child. 


The world is full of kind-hearted and genuine souls who never think twice before helping others. People in uniforms are often misunderstood for being rude, unfair, and uncooperative. But a California police officer's kind act proves otherwise. 

Officer Jesse Whitten from the Santa Rosa Police Department never thought that a chance encounter with a homeless woman would change his life forever. 

[Left] Ashleigh and Jesse Whitten with their kids. [Right] Officer Jesse holding his adoptive daughter, Harlow Maisey Whitten. | Photo: twitter.com/MarkMatthewsNBC | facebook.com/SantaRosaPoliceDepartment



While working with the California Department for over a decade, Officer Jesse helped many homeless people. Amongst them was a woman he met on patrol in 2017, who was going through a rough patch in her life. He told PEOPLE: 

“She was very honest about her situation, how she was struggling with drug addiction and what was going on in her life."

Jesse often checked up on her as a benevolent man and offered to take her to a shelter. The Santa Rosa cop also drove her to a detox and rehab center. 



Over time, Officer Jesse and the woman living on the streets forged an unexpected friendship. Jesse recalled that his wife, Ashley Whitten, accompanied him on a ride-along one day, and they ran into the same woman. 

The Santa Rosa Police Department joined in the Whitten family's celebration and congratulated them in a Facebook post shared on September 1, 2018. 

Soon, the two ladies started talking about motherhood, and the homeless woman put Ashley's hand on her belly. As it turned out, the woman was expecting, and Ashley didn't know about the connection she shared with the baby.


Officer Jesse Whitten with his adoptive daughter, Harlow Maisey Whitten. | Photo: YouTube.com/Good Morning America


According to PEOPLE, the woman gave a photo of her ultrasound to Officer Jesse and asked if he and Ashley would adopt her baby. Jesse didn't know how serious she was until she delivered the baby on February 9, 2018. 


Despite trying to stay clean, the woman's baby girl was born with heroin traces in her system. Because she was homeless and the baby had drugs in her system, the county asked her if she wished to arrange for emergency placement in foster care. 

Instead, she told them to call Officer Jesse. So on Valentine's Day in 2018, the Whittens received a call that said the biological mom specifically wanted them to adopt her baby. 

Ashley and Jesse Whitten with their adoptive daughter, Harlow Maisey Whitten. | Photo: YouTube.com/Good Morning America



Ashley shared that the woman had envisioned a perfect life for her child, but she couldn't give it to her because of her condition. She trusted Officer Jesse would do what she couldn't. The California cop shared he couldn't be happier. He told GMA: 

"I fell in love right away. 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."

On August 30, 2018, Jesse and Ashley officially welcomed Harlow Maisey Whitten into their hearts and home. Her birth mother gave her middle name, and the Whittens kept it to honor her. 


The Whitten Family. | Photo: YouTube.com/Good Morning America


Harlow also has three older sisters, Reese, Kendall, and Stella. She's a playful and healthy child and quickly blended in with the family. Her adoptive dad shared she has the most beautiful smile, while her new mom expressed: 


"Her smile is the best thing."

The Santa Rosa Police Department joined in the Whitten family's celebration and congratulated them in a Facebook post shared on September 1, 2018. 



The viral post has amassed nearly 4.6K likes and over 360 comments since it was first shared. The caption read:

"Ofc. Whitten, the proud father of three girls already, opened his heart and his home to this baby. And now it's official! Congratulations, Whitten family, and welcome, baby, to the SRPD family!"

We're glad little Harlow found a forever home and a loving family who would always look after her. Thank you, Officer Jesse, for restoring our faith in humanity, love, and kindness. 


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