Tia Palmer was a sophomore at Brigham Young University in 2006 when her humanities professor made a bold declaration: Whoever signed up for an online dating site he was working on that was still in its beta phase and completed their profile would receive an automatic A in the class.
Although Palmer, a native of West Bountiful, was already enjoying dating life, she wanted an A. So she signed up for the free site and took the test. Her grade for humanities now solidified, she didn’t think about her dating profile until she received a handful of notifications stating she had been matched with various men.
Meanwhile, more than 7,000 miles away in Lagos, Nigeria, Solomon Fomah, a bachelor and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wanted to meet more women of his faith. Since Nigeria doesn’t have a large LDS population, Fomah decided to sign up for an online dating site. His internet search led him to the same beta site Palmer had joined, and he filled out his own profile.
Fomah was matched with seven women. He sent messages to all the ladies and several messaged back. But Palmer, who read Fomah’s bio and realized he lived in far-away Africa, wasn’t one of them.
Several months passed and one day Palmer’s younger sister saw Fomah’s photo on the dating site. She immediately pestered Palmer, demanding she respond to him. So Palmer relented and responded to Fomah’s message.
As Palmer and Fomah emailed, their friendship grew quickly. Fomah thought Palmer was delightful and nice. Palmer thought Fomah was funny and charming. They were soon emailing five to six times a day.
They corresponded about their families, work and even minute things that occurred in their daily lives. Nothing was too trivial to write about; they wanted to know everything about the other.
Fomah soon realized he was falling in love with a girl he’d never met who lived in a country across the ocean. Palmer, however, told herself Fomah was only a friend. She had never told her parents — or anyone else, besides her sister — about her African pen pal, instead declaring that she wanted to serve an LDS mission.
Meanwhile, Fomah, unaware that Palmer had decided to serve a mission, had moved his email topics toward a more serious subject: marriage. Although Fomah told Palmer he wanted to marry her, she ignored his comments. After all, she was going on a mission and he lived on another continent.
But after talking to her bishop and stake president, Palmer chose to forgo serving a mission. She went home and replied to what Fomah had now asked several times. She would marry him.
When Palmer broke the news to her parents that instead of serving a mission she would be getting married to a man neither she nor they had ever met, their reactions were understandably agitated.
“Have you ever spoken with this guy?” her dad asked.
Palmer admitted they had only emailed and the next day purchased a calling card — one of many she would use.
On Valentine’s Day 2007, Fomah officially proposed over the phone to Palmer and she accepted. Now all they had to do was get Fomah to the United States, a detail that soon proved to be difficult after applying for and being denied several types of visas.
Palmer’s parents decided the family needed to meet Fomah in person. The family took a 36-hour flight to Ghana, three countries to the west of Nigeria. Fomah and his family met them there.
The two families stayed in a vacation home for three weeks, getting to know each other and sharing cultures. Fomah’s mother made exotic Nigerian food and Palmer’s family introduced American card games. A Nigerian engagement ceremony was held in anticipation of the upcoming wedding.Comment on this story
Too soon, their three weeks were over and the Palmer family had to return home.
After several more delays, Fomah was given a visa in February 2008. The next day, he bought a plane ticket and flew to the United States.
On April 18, 2008, Palmer and Fomah were married in the Bountiful Utah Temple.
The Fomahs now live in Davis County, Utah, and are parents to three children.
Elizabeth Reid has bachelor's degrees in economics and history. A wife and mother, she loves learning people's love stories and blogs about her own at agoodreid.blogspot.com.