Because of their careers, police officers are no strangers to the courtroom— but it’s rare to see one sitting there beaming like Officer Jesse Whitten last week. You see, the police officer was appearing in court to legally adopt the baby of a drug-addicted, homeless woman he’d met while on patrol.
According to The Press Democrat, Jesse is a California officer with the Santa Rosa Police Department.
One day, while patrolling the streets, Jesse met a 30-year-old homeless woman who was addicted to drugs.
As they continued to run into each other, the two developed a bond.
“I tried to get her into rehab,” the officer explained. Sadly, the man’s efforts were for naught. The woman was not ready to let go of her addiction and continued living on the streets with her partner.
One night, Jesse’s wife Ashley was accompanying him on his patrol when they came across the homeless woman again— only this time, something was different. In an interview with CBS News, his wife recalled:
“I mentioned, “Oh, you are pregnant?'”
“And she said, ‘Oh yeah,’ and placed my hand on her womb.”
When Jesse discovered the woman was pregnant, he encouraged her to seek prenatal care. The next time they ran into each other, she showed him an ultrasound picture of her baby girl.
Fast-forward to this past Valentine’s Day when Ashley and David got an unexpected call. It was a social worker phoning from the Labor and Delivery department at Kaiser Permanenta Santa Rosa Medical Center.
The social worker informed them that the homeless woman had delivered her baby— and had requested the worker call the couple to see if they would take her child.
Jesse and Ashley already have three daughters of their own, but upon receiving the call, they rushed to the medical center. They asked the woman about her intentions— whether this was temporary or for good. Ashley said:
“She said, ‘I want what’s best for her. I can’t give her all the things I want her to have.'”
The baby had been born five weeks premature and addicted to drugs. Luckily, she handled the detoxification process well and came out of the experience unscathed.
Two days after speaking with the baby’s mother, Jessie and Ashley took the little girl home.
In an interview with CBS News, Ashley said:
“It’s weird to live in the tension of joy and heartbreak like this story is.”
“It’s wonderful at the same time.”
Last week (on August 31), the adoption was made official.
The Santa Rosa Police Department shared the news on their Facebook page, writing:
“Not long ago, while Ofc. Whitten was working he met a pregnant woman needing help. She didn’t ask for assistance the way a typical call for service goes, she was looking for a home and a family for her unborn baby. Ofc. Whitten, the proud father of three girls already, opened his heart and his home to this baby. And now it’s official!”
Jessie and Ashley have kept in contact with the woman since adopting her daughter. Ashley recalls a special moment between them: “We were talking and I said, ‘As her mother, you made this choice for and we’re so grateful”— but the homeless woman immediately cut her off and said, “You’re her mother now.”
Hear their story below.
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