Everyday Heroes

Teacher Adopts Teen With Down Syndrome After His Mom Passes

When she learned that his mother had terminal breast cancer, she didn't think twice about taking him in.

It's hard to imagine a conversation more difficult than the one Kerry Bremer and Jean Manning had almost four years ago.

Bremer (pictured below, middle, with Manning and her son Jake) is a special education teacher at the CASE Collaborative School in Concord, MA where Manning's son Jake is a student. Manning had terminal breast cancer, and as she grew more ill as the school year passed, Bremer was concerned about what the family would do after she was gone.

That's when she approached Manning and offered to take on the role of Jake's caregiver should the disease take her life.

"I said, 'I may be overstepping here and forgive me if I am, but my family and I would like to offer guardianship for Jake if you need a backup plan'," Bremer, 52, told TODAY Parents.

An emotional Manning agreed. The family didn�t have any close relatives that would be able to care for Jake, so the thought of him being alone after her death had been plaguing her.

"She said, 'I'll sleep better tonight than I have in a very long time'," Bremer recalled.

"Her biggest fear was what would happen to Jake after she passed." - Kerry Bremer

Jake and his mother spent the next few years getting to know the Bremer family, including her husband Dave and their other children, Kaitlyn (16), Kristen (21), and Jonathan (19). They worked with Manning to make sure the transition would go as smoothly as possible.

The family quickly embraced Jake and his loving and joyful nature. They had sleepovers and him and his mother would join the Bremers to celebrate special occasions.

"We would take Jake to appointments together and celebrate holidays together. Jean called him 'our son'," Bremer said. "That must have been so hard for her, to be planning for her death, but she did a beautiful job. She was so courageous."

Manning passed away peacefully last week after a chemotherapy treatment. Jake is now settling into his new life with his second family, but his mother will always be with him.

"My mom went to heaven," Jake told WCVB-TV . "She's always in my heart.

A family friend has started a GoFundMe for the Bremer family to cover the memorial expenses and to help the Bremer family with Jake's adoption. To make a donation, click here.

Inspired by the Bremer family's incredible act of kindness? There are many resources available if you are considering adopting a child with special needs. To start, you can check out Rainbowkids and Adopt Special Needs.

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