In a story equal parts heart-breaking and heart-warming, an encounter with a pregnant woman living on the streets led a police officer to adopt her child.

Officer Jesse Whitten, with California’s Santa Rosa Police Department encountered a woman living on the streets. She was pregnant, homeless and battling a drug addiction.

While on patrol, he would often talk to the unnamed woman, and on one such occasion when his wife was Ashley was with him, the two women began talking about being a mum, and its challenges, CBS San Francisco reports.

Ashley said:

I mentioned, ‘Oh, you are pregnant?’ and she said ‘Oh yes,’ and placed my hand on her womb.

The pair moved on, and during a Valentine’s Day party, the Whittens received a phone call: The mum had given birth, and she specifically wanted them to adopt her child.

And so that’s what they did.

Their baby daughter, who is now six months old, is called Harlow Masie Whitten, and she’s fitted in neatly with the pair’s three other children.

Officer Jessie loves her smile: ‘She smiles so beautiful.’

Harlow had a difficult first few weeks as she was exposed to drugs in the womb, but she’s doing very well now.

The new parents saw the birth mother in the months following the birth, and it was a touching meeting.

Ashley recalled:

We were talking and … I was saying as her — “You made this choice for her and that we are so grateful.”

And she said, “You’re her mother now.”

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