Life has a funny way of surprising us in the most incredible ways. Sometimes one simple act can set off a chain of events that change our lives forever.
That’s what happened when California police officer Jesse Whitten stopped to talk to a homeless woman while he was on patrol.
Jesse has worked with the Santa Rosa Police Department for 10 years and would often see the same homeless woman on the streets. Over the years, he struck up a sort of friendship with the woman.
Jesse knew she struggled with drug addiction and would drive her to detox centers, encourage her to go to rehab, and check up on her to see how she was doing. Despite his efforts – and hers – she struggled to stay clean.
One night last August, Officer Whitten was out with his wife, Ashley, when they ran into the woman. That’s when they realized she was pregnant.
“I mentioned, ‘Oh, you are pregnant,’ and she said, ‘Oh yeah,’ and placed my hand on her womb,” Ashley recalled.
The two of them talked about motherhood and its challenges, and then the Whittens went on their way. They had no idea that just a few months later their lives would change forever.
The Whittens were at a Valentine’s Day party when they got the call. The woman had given birth to a beautiful little girl. Knowing she couldn’t give the baby the kind of life she wanted for her, she had specifically asked that Ashley and Jesse adopt her.
The Whittens rushed over to the hospital and immediately knew it was meant to be.
“I fell in love right away,” Whitten told Good Morning America. “She’s so adorable. 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.”
“Her smile is the best thing,” Ashley added.
The baby had been exposed to drugs while in the womb and had some obstacles to overcome during the first few weeks of her life, but she proved to be a fighter and is doing much better now.
It took several months, but on August 30, the Whittens – who already had three daughters of their own – officially adopted the little girl into their family.
They named the baby Harlow Maisey Whitten. The Whittens picked out the name Harlow while her middle name was chosen by her birth mother.
“This is to say, ‘She loved you and we loved you and we both named you,'” Jesse noted.
Since taking Harlow into their family, Ashley and Jesse have met up with the birth mother. It was an emotional meeting, but one that just confirmed they had done the right thing.
“We were talking and I was saying to her, ‘You made this choice for her and that we are so grateful,'” Ashley said. “And she said, ‘You’re her mother now.'”
The Whittens say they now plan 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.”
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