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Widow With Down Syndrome Pays Tribute To Late Husband After 25 Yrs Of Marriage.

couple with down syndrome

A couple with Down syndrome fought for the right to marry each other in the 1980s and went on to prove that they shared a love deeper than most people could ever comprehend.

In 2019, Kris Scharoun-DeForge became the subject of national news when she buried her husband, Paul, after 25 years of marriage. It wasn’t the first time she’d made headlines, however. Over the years, several publications followed her and her husband to showcase their successful marriage.

The couple’s story began in the 1980s when they first met at a dance for people with disabilities. Kris fondly remembers feeling an instant connection, and they immediately began dating. They got engaged in 1988, and after five years of legal hurdles, they finally said, “I do.”

Kris and Paul Scharoun-DeForge

“I proposed to him,” Kris told CBS News. “I whispered in his ear, ‘Would you marry me?’ And he looked up at me with this big beautiful smile. And he shook his head ‘Yes!’ And that’s when I knew.”

“He got me laughing and everything,” she gushed. “He was the one for me.”

While it’s not uncommon today, when the couple first fell in love, it was unheard of for people with Down Syndrome to get married. Because of their disabilities, lawmakers didn’t believe Kris and Paul could reasonably consent to the commitment. So they put up layers of red tape to stop the union. But the two refused to back down.

The state required each partner to prove themselves through tests that determined their feelings, needs, and sexual knowledge. They also had to undergo counseling and take classes that taught them how to thrive in matrimony.

couple with down syndrome on their wedding day.

When the state finally gave Kris and Paul Scharoun-DeForge permission to walk down the aisle, they became one of the first couples with down syndrome to ever become husband and wife.

Kris Scharoun-DeForge Says ‘It’s Better to Have Loved and Lost Than To Be Told You Can Never Love At All’

Kris’s sister, Susan Scharoun, told The Florida Times-Union that there was a “whole lot of pushback from the supposedly able-minded people.” But Kris and Paul became “role models for everybody who wants a good relationship.”

“They were a team. They deferred to each other and looked out for each other,” she explained.

Paul Scharoun-DeForge passed away on March 28, 2019, after suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which affects nearly half of people with Down syndrome who live into their 50s and 60s. Before he died, he and Kris renewed their vows during a brief period of lucidness.

Paul passed away peacefully after falling ill with pneumonia. According to his family, the day he let go, he laid his head on his brother’s shoulder, closed his eyes, and slipped away while Kris held his hand.

Photo of Paul and Kris Scharoun-DeForge, a couple with down syndrome.

“People like us need to have a chance,” Kris told CBS. “A chance to find the man of your dreams, like I did.” 

“I just lost the man that I love. But I’m going to try [to be happy again],” she continued before adding that she regrets nothing, even if she never moves on.

“It’s still far better to have loved and lost than to be told you can never love at all,” she shared.

Kris Scharoun-DeForge remembered drawing a butterfly for her husband shortly before he died. She hung it on the wall beside his hospital bed to lift his spirits.

“I gave it to my sweetheart, and he loved it,” she said. “I think of Paul flying up in the air . . . and being free.”

Kris Scharoun-DeForge

After an intimate ceremony, Kris spread some of Paul’s ashes by a lake where he enjoyed fishing. The rest of his ashes will be mixed with hers one day, and they will be buried together.

Don’t forget to share Kris’s love story.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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