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Teacher Honors Mother’s Dying Wish And Adopts Son With Down Syndrome

Special education teacher Kerry Bremer reached out in a big way—and now her family is fuller because of it.

Four years ago Kerry Bremer and Jean Manning, a terminally ill single mother of a son with Down syndrome, sat down to talk about Jake’s future should Manning pass away soon.

Bremer hadn’t known Manning long because the two had just moved to Massachusetts from Florida. Jake was one of Bremer’s students at the CASE Collaborative School.

“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.

“I fell in love with Jake instantly,” Bremer said. “I knew he would a need a home and there was no way I wouldn’t open ours to him.”

While Manning had supportive relatives, no one was in the position to care for Jake. Manning said yes to Bremer’s offer.

“She said, I’ll sleep better tonight than I have in a very long time,'” Bremer said. “Her biggest fear was what would happen to Jake after she passed.”

Manning passed away on November 13th and 14-year-old Jake moved into Bremer’s house. The home was already filled with his toys and clothing from sleepover parties with the Bremers and their three children.

Bremer, her husband, Dave, and Manning worked together to make sure the transition would be as seamless as possible.

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

Jake calls Dave “Dave the Dad” and considers the Bremer kids— Kristen, 21, Jonathan, 19, and Kaitlyn, 16 — brothers and sisters.

“He has done more for us than we could ever do for him,” Bremer said.

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