Nathan Adams, a 45-year-old aircraft mechanic who hates dating, makes an odd poster boy for international online dating.
But that’s what he’s literally become since he turned to AnastasiaDate.com out of frustration with women in Utah.
After a romance via letters and Skype, he and Elena Adamchiyk, a native of Ukraine, are planning to marry before her 90-day fiancée visa runs out.
Adams feels like he hit the jackpot.
“Dating Elena is like dating a model … who has the values of my grandmother,” he says. “If somebody had told me a year ago what my life would be like today, I wouldn’t believe them.”
Adams and Adamchiyk are being held up as a success story by AnastasiaDate.com, which is spending millions on a public-relations blitz amid criticism about its business practices and its relatively high prices.
Adamchiyk arrived in the northern Utah community of Syracuse earlier this month from Odessa, on the Black Sea, eager to become a mother to Adams’ 6-year-old, Vanessa, and wife of “my Nate,” as she calls Adams.
“I want marriage. I don’t want Russian marriage,” says Adamchiyk, 34, who was married twice before in the former Soviet republic to men who cheated, a behavior she asserts is not uncommon there.
This time around, she was looking for a man who would be loyal, who didn’t drink or do drugs, and who would treat her with respect.
“This was my dream,” Adamchiyk says. “I want to take care of Nate and Nessa [Vanessa’s nickname]. This is first.”
‘I’d had enough’ • Divorced for several years from Vanessa’s mother (who has since died), Adams says he dated women who either didn’t want to help him rear his daughter or were mostly interested in his money. He ran into a fair amount of bitterness and anger toward men.
It was, “ ‘I want this. I want that. I won’t tolerate this, I won’t tolerate that,’ ” he says. “I told my friend I’d had enough. I wanted no more dating around here.”
A friend suggested international women via online dating sites; five of his friends at Hill Air Force Base are married to women from other countries, and he liked the idea. So he bought a home computer.
At first, he tried a website that connects Western men with Asian women, but was scammed by someone he believed was a model.
When he began hearing good things about Ukrainian women — that they are both beautiful and traditional — he tried AnastasiaDate.com.
It’s the largest international online-dating company, though much smaller than general interest dating websites such as Match.com, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony and Zoosk.
Altogether, online dating was a $1.13 billion industry in 2011, according to Marketdata Enterprises, which expects the business to grow to $1.33 billion in revenue by 2015.
AnastasiaDate makes money by charging men in Western countries to exchange and translate electronic letters and to arrange live text and video chats with women in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and other former Soviet republics. It has sister sites specializing in Latin American, Asian and African women.
The company told Fortune magazine last spring that it saw a 220 percent increase in the number of users last year, pushing profits to $110 million. The Moscow-based company projected earnings of $140 million this year, and it recently opened an office in New York, the magazine said.
In the past month alone, AnastasiaDate says, it had 17,255 site visits from men in Utah, including 3,485 visits from men in Salt Lake City. It logged nearly 3.4 million site visits from men around the world that month, with more than 1.2 million from the United States.
Adams says he was spending about $300 a month at the peak of his search for a mate.
‘Order up some girls’ • Today, one in five romantic relationships begins online, says David Evans, an industry consultant who blogs at Online Dating Insider.
But unlike the big players in the industry, international-dating websites often have a “creepy” feeling to them, he says, giving the impression they are simply sites where men with money can “order up some girls from the Philippines.”
Women, for instance, don’t pay to meet foreign men on the site.
The opportunity for exploitation cuts both ways: Well-heeled Western men can use the women as arm-candy or for sex, if they ever meet, and the women can persuade gullible men to send money or help them to secure visas.
In a Harris Interactive survey this summer of 503 men who have dated or would date online, 31 percent said they were looking for women “purely for sex.” Another 57 percent were looking for companionship. The survey of men ages 35 to 55 was commissioned by AnastasiaDate.
It’s not known what proportion of the K (fiancée) visas the U.S. State Department issues — 32,154 last year, up from 29,016 the year before — are related to online dating.
But, Evans says, “There is a market out there for dudes that want foreign brides, for whatever reason.”
‘This was my dream’ • Adams says he “thought long and hard about the kind of person I wanted to meet. No matter how beautiful they are, they had to be interested in being a family.”
He didn’t want women age 30 or younger because, in his experience, they’re interested in clubbing. He didn’t want a woman older than 36 because he believes most have already reared children and aren’t interested in mothering a young child.
Adams exchanged letters and chatted with several women in 2012 before Adamchiyk’s profile and video caught his attention. Online communication, he says, seemed somehow more genuine.
“If you’re dating someone local and … your relationship starts out with having sex with them, you’re not really their friend.” Online, he says, “You have to take the time to sit and write a letter.”
In September 2012, Adams traveled to Odessa to meet Adamchiyk. He went back in May for several weeks. A Kentucky native, Adams is fascinated by Ukraine’s culture and history and is learning Russian. He considers retiring in Ukraine someday, which would make Adamchiyk, whose mother remains in the country, happy.
Adamchiyk, who was 32 and managing a department store when she met Adams, says she was attracted to his eyes, which struck her as kind and loyal. But there was something more.
“You want truth?” she says. “First, when I saw Nessa, I fall in love with her.
“This was my dream,” she says. “She is my daughter.”
Getting the visa Adamchiyk received in August took more than 10 months, requiring piles of biographical and relationship documentation — receipts from museums they visited, trains they rode, sessions they Skyped — a physical exam and a U.S. Embassy interview. After 90 days and the couple’s marriage, she can apply for a permanent green card, which could take four years to secure.
Adamchiyk hopes to go to school to improve her English and wants to connect with members of the St. George Russian Orthodox Church in Salt Lake City.
Adams says he didn’t realize how much his daughter needed a mother until he saw her bond, as he has, with Adamchiyk. “She runs to her all the time, asking her questions. She wants her to give her a bath every night.”
The fit, he says, is perfect.
“Everything I wanted and needed, she fulfilled.”
Use caution in international dating
The U.S. State Department warns citizens that international dating is fertile ground for scam artists. Here is the department’s advice, from an article at http://1.usa.gov/pyjLx2.
Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person without verifying his or her identity.
Don’t disclose personal details over the phone or online.
Refer all those claiming to be in distress overseas to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
The Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 can offer suggestions for verifying whether the situation is legitimate or a scam.
If you insist on sending money, consider sending an OCS Trust instead, which means the money sent via Western Union must be picked up at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.