Teacher adopts student with Down syndrome after his mother passed away

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A Massachusetts teacher is being described as going “above and beyond” for one of her students.  For the past four years, Ayers, Massachusetts, teacher Kerry Bremer has been looking out for her student, Jake Manning.  Bremer told WCVB News, “I fell in love with him instantly.” Gradually, their friendship grew beyond the classroom. Manning, who has Down syndrome, had an uncertain future as his mother, Jean Manning, battled terminal breast cancer.

Bremer recalls, “As she got sicker that year, I just thought: “What is she going to do?”  Bremer’s family made a decision together and then approached Jean Manning. “If you need a backup plan for Jake, then our family is happy to make him part of our family.”  Bremer said. Far from being put-off by the offer, Bremer remembers that Jean said, “I’ll sleep better tonight than I have in a long time.”

For the last years of his mother’s life, Jake had the opportunity to get to know his teacher outside the classroom and her husband and three children.  He spent weekends and holidays growing to be part of the family. Unexpectedly, in November, Jean Manning passed away. Following a routine chemotherapy treatment, she took a nap and never awoke.

Her beloved son was not alone.  Jake had already come to know the Bremers and become a part of their family.  As difficult as the loss has been, Jake has the loving support of people he can call his own.  He told WCVB after the loss of his mother, “My mom went to heaven. She’s always in my heart.”

Bremer praised Jean Manning’s selflessness in her care and compassion for her son.  She said, “We shared our boy, and she will live on here in this house.” The Bremers are now Jake’s legal guardians, and all members of the family have come to know and love him.  Kerry Bremer’s husband said, “When I first met him when he was in Kerry’s class, it was fun. But when we first decided to do this and I met him again, he said: ‘You’re the dad? You’re Dave the dad?’  That was it for a very long time. I was Dave the dad.”  

The Bremer’s three other children, Kaitlyn, Kristen, and Jonathan, have loved getting to know Jake and his fun-loving personality.  They have made an effort to include him in special events over the years and are supporting him during this difficult time. Friends of the family shared how moved they were to see the love and care the Bremers offered Jake during the most difficult time in his life.

Friends of the family also wrote that when Jean Manning was first diagnosed with cancer five years ago, she began to plan for suitable care for her son if the worst might happen.  As a single mother and without extended family who could care for Jake, her options were limited. The Bremers stepped up to offer Jake the love and stability of the family he deserves.

Sadly, many parents of children with Down syndrome or other potential disabilities are pressured to end their child’s life in abortion.  One reason parents fear having a child with special needs is precisely the devastating situation in which Jake’s mother found herself: unable to continue caring for her son herself and unable to find suitable guardians should the need arise.

As the story of the Bremer and Manning families shows, there is hope and love does find a way. The idea that a disabled child is better off dead than begin born is a lie from the culture of death. Every child, no matter what disability or life-limiting condition they may develop, has human dignity and the Right to Life.

When our culture begins with the recognition of the sanctity of all human Life, children are given a chance, and lives in their communities are changed for the better.

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