Parents want everything to be perfect for their children. No mom or dad expects to make a big mistake. But in the face of adversity, the best thing they can do is own up to their errors and show their kids how to become a better person.
Just ask Jason Wickline, who went down a path that would send shivers down the spine of any caring guardian. His mistakes tore his entire family apart. But when all looked lost for him, he wondered if he could find a second chance.
In 2015, Jason Wickline walked out of the prison yard, his few possessions in hand, and promised himself a fresh start. It would have been a joyous occasion, if he hadn’t been popping in and out of prisons for the past 15 years.
Those clashes with the law were tough enough on Jason, but what made his situation even worse was that he was a family man. His son Krystian treated him like a hero, though Jason hoped he wouldn’t find out about everything in his life.
As a younger man, Jason had gotten involved with the wrong crowd — specifically the one that peddled and consumed drugs. He told himself then that he was just having a bit of fun. Who didn’t like to party?
Tragically, he didn’t realize that substances would take over his entire life. Addiction turned Jason into a shell of his former self. He might’ve totally collapsed if not for the support of his family.
After that 2015 release, Jason swore he would go straight, for Krystian’s sake. But he still wasn’t willing to separate himself from drugs. That would prove to be the biggest mistake of his life.
Later that year, squadrons of police cruisers descended upon the Wickline home. They clearly weren’t there to make a friendly visit, or to ask a few questions. It was a full-on raid.
Authorities discovered that Jason, along with a number of unfortunate acquaintances, had been cooking crystal meth out of his home. With a charge like that, the struggling dad would get far more than a slap on the wrist.
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For starters, the government condemned his home following the raid. A makeshift drug lab, after all, was no place for a toddler to live. But that potentially put Krystian out on the street and away from Jason forever.
His wrists handcuffed together, Jason could only sob as Child Services arrived and carried his boy away. Krystian had time for one final message. “Daddy, I love you, and I’ll never forget you,” he said in a resigned voice.
Jason was devastated. Was his son saying that he never expected to see him again? Well, that did seem like a possibility. The tearful father expected that he could be looking at up to 30 years behind bars.
He honestly wondered if that option was preferable to Krystian visiting him in jail every few months. During his sentencing, Jason opened up about his paternal shortcomings, and the judge brought up an unexpected thought.
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Sympathizing with the father’s plight, they offered an alternative to prison. They asked him if he had any interest in instead entering a long-term treatment facility. It was certainly safer than jail, though this was his final chance.
Jason jumped on it. Over the course of 13 months, he set out on the road to recovery, with courses led by other former addicts. Eager as he was to correct his ways, sobriety was more challenging than Jason anticipated.
Each and every day threatened to pull him back into the throes of addiction. But Jason stayed clean that whole time, and the impressed parole board agreed to grant him his freedom. Still, he wasn’t finished.
Like many meth users, the drugs left Jason weak and wasted away. He focused on getting in shape, not only for his own well-being, but to show his friends and family that he’d finally turned a corner.
Facebook / Jason Wickline
Years after his fateful slip-up, Jason finally got back on track and regained custody of Krystian in 2019. The 9-year-old was thrilled to have his dad back, and the experience brought them closer together with one very important project.
Both father and son got involved with a charity group called More Than Addiction, which helped family members beat substance abuse. Jason and Krystian knew that their story could inspire many others — one woman in particular.
Shanna McClure, founder of More Than Addiction, was incredibly touched by Jason’s transformation. And because neither had a significant other in their lives, they embarked on a romantic relationship together.
A world away from his prison nightmare, Jason now has everything he could ever want. He’s learned that it often takes help from others to truly triumph over addiction. Jason came across some truly inspiring stories, including cases where complete strangers turned each other’s lives around.
As a police officer, Jesse Whitten was often behind the wheel patrolling the streets of Santa Rosa, California. A father raising his three daughters in the community, Jesse took his role to protect and serve seriously.
On his route, he usually passed Coddingtown Mall, a local shopping facility. There, Jesse frequently came across a young woman that he couldn’t get out of his mind.
The woman, Maisey, was homeless and struggling with addiction. One day, Jesse struck up a conversation with her, and the two became friendly. Yet despite her obvious troubles, there was something else about Maisey’s situation that left Jesse with lingering concerns.
Maisey was also expecting a child. “It’s not every day you see someone who’s homeless and pregnant,” Jesse recalled. As a cop, he’d seen many difficult situations, but as a father, he sympathized with Maisey’s struggle.
After learning more about her life, Jesse realized he knew Maisey’s two other children from a foster youth camp. This newfound connection furthered his sense of duty to help her through her difficult circumstances.
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Jesse brought Maisey to several shelters and drug rehabilitation centers so she could have a warm bed, and detox safely. But, he still felt compelled to do more, so he took Maisey to a hospital for a prenatal checkup and ultrasound.
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Glowing with joy, Maisey learned she was expecting a baby girl. As a token of appreciation, she gave the ultrasound image to Jesse to keep. She never forgot his lack of judgment and unconditional kindness. She trusted him.
Despite Jesse’s attempts at intervention, Maisey continued to battle her addiction and remained on the streets throughout her pregnancy. He made efforts to check on her whenever he saw her while on patrol.
One summer night in 2017, Jesse took his wife Ashley along on his patrol ride when they spotted Maisey. He had confided in Ashley his concerns for the young homeless woman, so naturally, they stopped to check in on her.
Ashley remembered vividly placing her hand on Maisey’s belly and feeling the baby girl in the womb. She hoped the little girl still had a chance. Little did they know how meaningful that moment would become…
Because on Valentines Day 2018, Ashley answered a phone call and heard some powerful news she never quite expected. The county was calling because Maisey had given birth and her child had to be placed in emergency foster care.
Jesse knew Maisey attempted many times to overcome her addiction, but ultimately the baby was born with drugs in her system. Coupled with her homelessness, the county had no choice but to seek foster placement.
When Maisey was asked if she had anyone who could care for her baby, she insisted that the Whittens were the best choice. Stunned, Jesse remembered Maisey offhandedly asking if he would consider taking her baby in, but he assumed she wasn’t serious!
Frantically, the Whittens called their pastor to come to babysit their three daughters, Reese, Kendall, and Stella. Ashley and Jesse rushed to speak with Maisey about her decision at the hospital.
“I knew you had daughters. I knew you were firm, but you were fair,” Jesse remembered Maisey telling him that day. “She had this vision of her daughter playing in a tutu with her sisters. That’s what she said she wanted.”
Still, Ashley and Jesse wanted Maisey to be sure. They wondered, “Are you asking us to keep her forever?” She firmly insisted she wanted her daughter to be raised and loved by kind people.
The moment Jesse held the infant in his arms, he was flooded with love. They knew the baby girl was destined to be part of their family. She was the perfect match.
In August of 2018, the new baby girl officially became part of their family. A Sonoma County judge asked the three biological Whitten daughters if they wanted a new sister. Together they gave a resounding, “Yes!”
The Whittens told the judge that the now seven-month-old’s name was Harlow Maisey. Her birth mother chose her middle name, and they kept it to honor her and the sacrifice she made out of love.
Baby Harlow coming into their lives empowered Ashley and Jesse to encourage others to consider adoption or fostering children. They hadn’t set out to become fosters, but when the call came, “we showed up.”
Ashley shared in a television interview, “Through our experience, we are so sure that no child is broken and they don’t need us to fix them. They just need love.” Amazingly, Officer Whitten isn’t the first cop to step in like this…
In 1989, officer Michael Buelna cruised into one of the rougher neighborhoods of Santa Ana, California. He was performing a routine scan of the area after a stabbing, but the humdrum case took a turn when locals waved him towards an alley.
Michael didn’t see anything out of the ordinary at first, but he picked up on “a sound of a very low meow, like a cat or something.” He followed the noise to its source, between a dumpster and a wall. Michael could hardly believe his eyes.
It was a wailing infant, lying face down and exposed on the asphalt. To his horror, Michael noticed the umbilical cord was still attached. Thinking quickly, Michael radioed for immediate medical assistance.
The discovery shook Michael to the extent that he wasn’t willing to simply hand over the baby to the EMTs. Instead, he rode in the ambulance while a police escort guided them to the hospital as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, Michael acted in the nick of time. Although the newborn was suffering from hypothermia, the medical team expected him to make a full recovery. But there were still unanswered questions.
A nurse turned to Michael and mentioned the baby, only a few hours old, needed a name. After conferring, they settled on Adam. It was somehow appropriate for this miracle infant that seemingly popped up out of nowhere.
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Michael and Adam shared a tender moment together that night in the hospital, but the police officer soon had to head out and resume his duties. So what would happen to Baby Adam?
Even though the local news publicized the incredible baby rescue, authorities were unable to locate a responsible family member to raise Adam. Like so many other abandoned children, he was put up for adoption.
Before too long, however, the infant’s luck turned around. Elizabeth Barton and Daniel Fernandez — top candidates among couples looking to adopt — took him in as part of their family. Once they brought him home, they bestowed him with a new name: Robin Barton.
Although Robin spent the first few hours of his existence scared and alone, Elizabeth and Daniel made sure he never felt abandoned again. Looking back, Robin agreed that some higher power had blessed him with a great family.
Through all his blissful childhood years, Robin did not have the faintest idea about his miraculous rescue. Elizabeth and Daniel kept his origins a secret so Robin could be a normal kid. But as he got older, he started asking questions.
Facebook / Robin Barton
Once Robin reached maturity, Elizabeth understood it was time to share the whole story with him. She told him everything about the adoption and the brave police officer who saved him, even though she feared this revelation would shatter their family.
But Robin didn’t show any resentment or anger. He was nothing but grateful that Daniel and Elizabeth gave him such a wonderful family, though he proposed one interesting idea. Robin wanted to meet the policeman who found him in the alley.
Meanwhile, Michael Buelna served with the Santa Ana police until he stepped down in his 50s. Michael enjoyed his retirement, though his thoughts often turned back to that infant he discovered years ago. One day in 2015, a call came in from a member of his old force.
The officer asked if Michael remembered Adam. Of course, he did. But what the retir-ed officer didn’t see coming was the invitation to meet with Adam — now Robin — for the first time in 25 years. How could he say no?
When the two men first came face-to-face, they didn’t know quite what to say. There was nothing that could be said. They just embraced. Then, Michael dropped a bombshell.
Michael explained why he felt so motivated to ensure that Robin would survive: it turns out that Michael’s own parents left him at a young age! Based on his own hardships, he couldn’t bear to see another child grow up without a family. And as a matter of fact, Robin’s family was about to get a whole lot bigger.
Robin’s reunion with Michael got huge press coverage, which allowed him to track down other people from his past. Soon after, he met his birth father, Marcos Meza, who learned about the story on TV.
Marcos also introduced Robin to his daughters! Within a few weeks, the baby who was once left to die found himself suddenly surrounded by more family than he could ever imagine. All Robin was missing was his mother.
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As it turns out, Robin’s birth mother was out of reach. After Sabrina Diaz spent years in prison for child abandonment, the government deported her to Mexico. Nevertheless, Robin doesn’t see his mother as a villain.
Maybe Robin will be able to connect with his mother someday, but for now, he knows he’s incredibly lucky. What could be better than spending time with the parents who raised him, the family who lost him, and the hero who gave him a chance at life?
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