This week marks the 50th wedding anniversary of Pat and Terry Crider, parents of a family of eight – with six of the children being adopted. Although the road has not been without its bumps, they both have given their all to their family and can now watch their children raise families of their own.

Terry grew up in Long Prairie, and Pat had always lived in Sauk Centre. She and her friends went up to Long Prairie for roller skating and the soda fountain, and she and Terry met through their friends.

Pat and Terry Crider married Jan. 9, 1969, and because it was a Minnesota winter, their car got stuck on the way to the ceremony.

“Terry tried to turn the corner a little too quick, and we slid into a snowbank,” Pat said.

Fortunately, with some help from Pat’s sister and brother-in-law, they were able to push the car out and get to the gas station, which was a little more expensive than they anticipated.

“It was kind of comical because I thought I’d just give the guy 10 bucks,” Terry said. “We get done, I ask, ‘What do I owe you?’ and he says ‘20 dollars.’ The four of us busted out laughing, and he’s looking at us like, ‘Are you guys nuts or what?’”

Humor has always gone a long way in the Crider family with their eight children. After their first two children were born, the Criders met a couple in Sauk Centre who had adopted two boys from India. Pat had always been interested in adopting children, so the couple went to the meetings and ended up in the program.

The Criders’ biological children are Teri and Dirk. Damien and ‘Big’ Michael were adopted together at ages 3 and 4. Next, Charanda and Denise were adopted at ages 5 and 9, followed later by Joy at age 8 and then ‘Little’ Michael at age 14.

“We made two and bought six,” Terry said. “The good thing about adopting is you can pick the good ones.”

Terry’s jokes aside, the Criders actually were not particular when it came to adopting their kids.

“It actually made adoption easier for us because we weren’t specific about what type of kids we wanted,” Pat said. “I just figured the kids God wanted in our family would be the kids we got.”

The eight children made the Crider house pretty full; clothes were mostly hand-me-downs, cooking pots had to be large and if there was something that someone did not want to eat at dinner, there would always be someone else willing to stab it off the plate.

The size of the family could be felt whenever they went out.

“The main thing that we noticed was the world isn’t built for that many people in a family anymore,” Terry said. “We never owned a car; we had to have a van because you’re talking 10 people. When we went to a restaurant, it usually seated six.”

The family was not without problems. Damien was with the family for 10 years before health, mental and emotional problems required him to be transferred to care in St. Cloud. Little Michael got into trouble in California not long after 9/11, and he was deported to Brazil where he found his biological family.

“Don’t think you’re not going to have problems,” Terry said. “Don’t think there’s not going to be issues or heartbreaking. Having two of your kids that the world would say haven’t panned out, there’s people that would have thrown in the towel. You just have to stick it out and have faith that it’ll improve, and it either does or it doesn’t.”

Even through times of trouble, divorce was never in the Criders’ vocabulary, nor was giving anything less than their all to the family.

“We didn’t set out to fail in our marriage,” Pat said. “I’d always joke with Terry, though; I’d tell him, ‘Hon, you can leave any time. Just remember, you’re going to take all the kids with you.’”

Today, after 50 years of marriage and with the kids out of the house – although they do come back with their 22 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren – the Criders are still going strong.

“I remember a couple of years ago, we were at the county fair and we were walking home, just holding hands and walking down the street,” Pat said. “My granddaughter put on Facebook that she saw this older couple walking down the street hand-in-hand, and she found out it was her grandparents. She said, ‘I hope I’m going to be like that when I get to be their age.’”

Pat and Terry hope they have left their children, as well as other families, with a foundation and ideals they can use in their own lives.

“Whether you’re doing it good or bad, you are a role model for everybody,” Terry said. “In retrospect, I’d say it’s been a really fun time, and it’s gone kind of fast. We’ve had a great ride.”

Pat looks forward to the years to come as well.

“I’d say we’re never going to grow old lonely,” Pat said.