In the past, some people have said that people with Down syndrome should not get married, but Paul and Kris Scharoun-DeForge are living proof that those who have Down syndrome can find love just like anyone else can.
This year’s Valentine’s Day will be Paul and Kris’s 25th as husband and wife. Kris, 58, has a tradition each year in which she has a Valentine’s card waiting for her husband when he gets home from work, and though she loves to cook, they would always go out for Valentine’s Day.
“He opened up my world,” Kris said.
For Paul and Kris, it was love at first sight when they met at a dance thirty years ago.
“I looked into his eyes and saw my future,” she recalled.
Like any other couple, Paul and Kris have had lots of struggles over the years, with their most recent one being their biggest. Paul, 54, was diagnosed with early-stage dementia, and a few months ago, the state moved him into a nursing home.
“When they told me, I started to cry,” said Kris, who still lives in their apartment in Liverpool, New York. “He’s my life. I don’t want to be without him.”
Their families have tried to keep them together, believing that Kris and Paul should have been able to choose how he would face dementia like anyone else would.
“They should define their own lives,” said Susan Scharoun, Kris’s sister. “They know what is good for them.”
They are still petitioning the state’s decision, but as of now, Kris visits Paul as often as she can. They also still get to spend weekends together at Susan’s house, where Kris can cook for her husband just like she did before.
“They have an unconditional love,” Susan said. “They totally complement each other.”
Kris still loves Paul with all her heart, and she’s determined to uphold the vows she took on her wedding day a quarter century ago, when she promised “to have and to hold, in sickness and in health.”