Officer Jesse Whitten with Harlow Masiey Whitten
Santa Rosa Police Department

It's been more than a year since Jesse Whitten adopted the woman's baby girl — and the family couldn't be happier

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December 27, 2018 09:00 AM

It’s been more than a year since Santa Rosa Police Officer Jesse Whitten adopted the baby girl of a homeless woman he’d befriended — and life couldn’t be better with the little girl.

Whitten, 35, has helped dozens of homeless people during his 10 years with the California department. But he never imagined that his unexpected friendship with one woman he met on patrol would change his life forever.

“She was very honest about her situation, how she was struggling with drug addiction and what was going on in her life,” he says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, noting that he would sometimes take her to shelters or detox centers.

For more on Jesse Whitten’s story, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Ashley (left), Harlow (center) and Jesse Whitten
Courtesy Whitten family

With that, he wasn’t too surprised when, one day, she gave him a photo of her ultrasound and asked if he and his wife, 35-year-old Ashley Whitten, would adopt her baby.

“We kept it on the fridge — we still have it,” he recalls to PEOPLE. “But we didn’t know how serious she really was.”

RELATED STORY: Police Officer Adopts Baby Girl of Homeless Woman He Befriended: She Gave ‘Her a Family’

Three months later, the Whittens rushed to the hospital where the woman had given birth to the 5-lb., 11-oz. baby. They knew immediately that the little girl, who they named Harlow Maisey, would join their three daughters, Reese, 7, Kendall, 5, and 3-year-old Stella.

“There was no way we were saying no to this child,” Whitten says. “It just felt right.”

Now at 11 months old, Harlow is happy, healthy, and hitting all her milestones.

“There’s enough love to go around,” he tells PEOPLE. “We can’t imagine our lives without her.”

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