Jesse Whitten, an officer with the Santa Rosa Police Department, said he and a homeless woman developed “friendship in a strange sort of way.”
And eventually, he said, that friendship led to a new addition to his family.
In an interview with KTVU, the California police officer said that he would often strike up conversation with the woman living on the streets — whom he noticed for one reason in particular.
“It’s not every day you see someone who’s homeless and pregnant,” he told the TV station.
Whitten said he would try to get help for the woman as she struggled with an addiction to drugs, according to The Press Democrat. That included driving her to shelters and detox centers, the officer said, but she never could shake off her dependance on the drugs.
The Santa Rosa Police Department wrote in a Facebook status that Whitten’s family just adopted the woman’s baby girl, giving his three young daughters another sister.
It started when Jesse took his wife Ashley Whitten on a patrol one night in August, CBS News reported, and the homeless woman asked Ashley to feel her stomach.
“I mentioned, ‘Oh, you are pregnant,’” Ashley reportedly told CBS, “and she said, ‘Oh yeah,’ and placed my hand on her womb.”
It was a special moment, she said, even if she didn’t realize just how important it was at the time.
“I got to feel our daughter — who I didn’t know would be our daughter — in the womb,” Ashley said, according to KTVU.
At Jesse’s request, the woman went out and got an ultrasound of her baby, KTVU reported. She found out it was a girl.
Then on Valentine’s Day, Jesse received a phone call from a social worker who said the woman had just given birth — and wanted to see if his family would adopt the newborn baby girl, according to The Press Democrat.
The Whittens formally adopted the girl — named Harlow Masie Whitten — in court on Thursday, as reported by CBS. The girl, who at first struggled with exposure to drugs in the womb, is now a healthy six month old.
And she appears to be a big hit with at least one of her sisters. Her 5-year-old sibling Kendall said she was “100 percent” on board with adopting Harlow when asked by a judge, The Press Democrat reported.
Ashley said she hopes her family’s story can help inspire others to help give a home to children in need.
“We didn’t do anything that special, we’re not unique,” she told KTVU. “The foster care system needs people to show up and when she called us, we showed up.”