Jesse Whitten is the California police officer who agreed to adopt the baby of a pregnant, homeless woman who told him she needed a home for her unborn child. The baby, Harlow Maisey Whitten, is now living with Whitten, his wife Ashley, and their other three children. Whitten and his wife say they were proud to give baby Harlow a safe and happy home.
Here’s what you need to know about Jesse Whitten:
1. Whitten, an Officer in the Santa Rosa Police Department, Already Knew the Homeless Woman’s Story and Her Other Children
Whitten is a 33 year old who works for the Santa Rosa Police Department. But he also helps out at a camp for foster kids. It was while working there that Whitten met — and really liked — the homeless woman’s other two children. (News reports don’t give the homeless woman’s name.)
Whitten said that knowing her kids made it easier for him to connect with the woman when he did meet her. “I knew her [other] two children from the camp I had worked at for foster youth. When she started talking about them, I had an immediate connection with her just by knowing who her wonderful children were,” he said.
The woman was pregnant when she met Whitten. She asked him if he and his wife, Ashley, would adopt the unborn child, since she said, she knew that he was “firm but fair” and would give her child a good home. Whitten hesitated, wanting to make sure that the woman was really serious. Eventually, he and his wife agreed to open their home to baby Harlow.
2. Whitten Offered to Drive the Woman to Rehab and Help Get Her Cleaned Up
Baby Harlow was born with heroin in her system. That’s why when she was born, authorities asked the mother if she wanted to put her child in foster care. But she told county officials to “call Officer Whitten.”
They did — and Whitten and his wife came to the hospital. Six months later, they agreed to formally adopt the baby, giving her the name Harlow Maisey Whitten. The Whittens picked the name “Harlow,” and the baby’s biological mother picked out the name “Maisey.” That way, Harlow said, the baby will grow up knowing that she is truly loved by her biological and adoptive families. “This is to say, ‘She loved you and we loved you and we both named you,'” Whitten said.
Before baby Harlow was born, Whitten tried to help her mother get clean. He offered to drive her to rehab, and the woman apparently attempted to kick her drug habit but wasn’t able to. There’s no word on her condition now. But baby Harlow is apparently thriving with the Whittens. Whitten told Good Morning America that of course, the baby cries sometimes, but calms down the moment they pick her up — because she knows that she is safe and loved.
3. Whitten and His Wife Ashley Already Had Three Daughters When They Agreed to Adopt Harlow
Baby Harlow’s biological daughter knew that Whitten was a family man, and she admired the life he had made for his three daughters. That’s why she asked him to open his home up to her own unborn child. She wanted a beautiful, happy life for the baby but felt she wouldn’t be able to provide that life herself. “She said, ‘I know you had daughters, I knew you were firm but you were fair,’” Whitten said. “She had this vision of her daughters playing in tutus with her sisters. That’s what she she said she wanted.”
Ashley Whitten told Good Morning America that Harlow’s biological mom had wanted “this beautiful life for her daughter and because of her situation, she couldn’t give that to her. But because of her interactions with Jesse [Whitten] through the police department, she knew she could trust him.”
The Whittens adopted baby Harlow on August 30th. She now has three older sisters: Reese, 7, Kendall, 5 and Stella, 3.
4. Whitten’s Wife Ashley Did a Ride-Along With Her Husband, When She Met the Homeless Woman
Back before baby Harlow was born, Ashley Whitten was doing a ride-along with her husband, whom she calls Jesse. That’s when she met the homeless woman. The woman already knew Jesse Whitten; the two were familiar with each other and had built up a good rapport. Now, Jesse introduced the woman to his wife.
“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 Whittens formally adopted baby Harlow six months after she was born. But Whitten said he fell in love with the “adorable” baby right away. Now that baby Harlow is at home with the Whittens, they say that she is a happy baby who knows that she is loved and safe.
5. The Santa Rosa Police Department Congratulated the Whittens And Welcomed Baby Harlow to the SRPD Family
In a Facebook post, the Santa Rosa police department welcomed baby Harlow to the “Santa Rosa Police Department Family.”
Whitten and his wife, Ashley, formally adopted baby Harlow on August 30. They chose the baby’s first name — Harlow. But her biological mother chose her middle name, Maisey. That way, they said, the baby will always be able to know that she is loved both by her adoptive and her biological families.
Whitten and Ashley already had three daughters when they adopted Harlow. Harlow’s biological mother admired their home and the lives they had made for their daughters. She told them that she wanted her unborn child to have that kind of life — which is why she begged Whitten to adopt her baby.