Soon After Meeting, Attending Parenting Classes

Soon after Chrystina Moritz Crown and Nathanael Robert Thompson met on the dating app Hinge in December 2019, she invited him to go on a road trip from Colorado to California via the Grand Canyon with her and three of her friends.

Before that trip ended, the two considered themselves a couple.

“Chrystina is really fun and spontaneous, just really light,” said Mr. Thompson, 28, noting that if you spend any time with her, there is always “a lot of ‘woohooing!’”

For Ms. Crown, Mr. Thompson’s willingness to spend more than a week in a small car with people he didn’t know — and to tolerate those people playing their favorite songs on repeat — were positive signs. Another: Mr. Thompson, who is 6-foot-2, never seemed bothered by the lack of legroom.

“He was just so calm, patient and funny, always going with the flow,” said Ms. Crown, who is 30 and 5-foot-2.

Though both studied at the University of Colorado Boulder, they never met as students. Ms. Crown, who grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo., graduated in 2014 while Mr. Thompson, who goes by Nathan, graduated a year later. His hometown is Highlands Ranch, Colo., a suburb of Denver.

On the road trip, Ms. Crown, who taught elementary school for seven years after college, told Mr. Thompson that she wanted to become a foster parent. To her surprise, he did not jump out of the car. “Days after the trip ended, we were in foster-parenting classes together,” Mr. Thompson said.

He added: “Hearing the stories and some of the traumas these kids have been through, it galvanized me.”

In March 2020, they moved into a roomy house in Fort Collins together. Months later, on July 5, 2020, Mr. Thompson proposed while the two were on a trail run to Upper Mohawk Lake near Breckenridge, Colo., a ski town where they often spend weekends.

“I shelled out for a Tiffany engagement ring and as we were running down, it started pouring rain,” he said. “Chrystina just held out her left hand the whole way.”

That September, they welcomed their first foster children: three siblings. “We’ve had kids literally nonstop since then,” said Ms. Crown, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in addiction recovery counseling at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Once, the foster care agency called during Ms. Crown’s birthday party at a restaurant, asking if they could take in two toddlers with medical needs. “They said, ‘We’re on our way to your house, we’ll be there in 20 minutes,’” Ms. Crown said. “We didn’t even blow out the candles.”

Mr. Thompson, who works remotely as a senior software engineer for CapTech Consulting, a technology consulting company in Denver, does all the cooking. “Nathan never gets riled up,” Ms. Crown said. “When I need to tap out, he’s always there to tap in.”

Ms. Crown organizes the family’s weekend outings, usually ambitious ones like towing two children on cross-country skis for 11 miles to a backcountry hut. “One way I’ve fallen in love with Chrystina even more is watching her parent,” Mr. Thompson said.

They planned four weddings in the last year, all canceled because of the pandemic. Most recently, they had to call off a ceremony set to take place on Jan. 8 in Crested Butte, Colo., a few days before because the couple and the three children living with them tested positive for Covid. Though no one had symptoms, “We ended up outside Urgent Care texting our guests: ‘No wedding,’” Ms. Crown said.

The two were married on March 26 at the Depot, a historic train station in Crested Butte, in a self-solemnizing ceremony that included vows they wrote themselves. Afterward, they and their 50 guests, most of whom were vaccinated, celebrated at a reception held at the nearby Scarp Ridge Lodge, a former saloon.

The week before, they were taking care of five children. “We’ve got 2, 5, 9, 14 and 17,” Ms. Crown said of their ages. The three older ones accompanied them to the wedding. “We love watching these little people make big dreams and big goals for themselves at our dinner table,” Ms. Crown wrote in an email. “The privilege of all that is not lost on us.”