Michelle and Matt McVickers of Hermitage met on the Yahoo! dating website in 2008.

“From the time I looked in that woman’s eyes I fell in love,” Matt said. “From our first date, I just knew we’d be together and that was the woman I would grow old with.”

Michelle said she went online thinking she might get a date or two here or there.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to meet my soulmate there,” she said.

Michelle was trying to get past the breakup of a 10-year marriage. Matt was getting out of a five-year relationship.

“I was just trying to get back out into the dating scene. Somehow we both ended up on the Internet dating site,” Michelle said. “We’ve never been ashamed of it or embarrassed by it. I’d rather meet there than pick up a drunk guy.”

Matt said he’s never been big on going to bars, especially to meet girls.

“You really don’t want to meet the women in the trucking industry,” he laughed.

They connected in mid-October 2008. Michelle made the initial contact and they exchanged select messages for awhile. Matt then found her on Facebook but since neither used Facebook very often, Matt gave her his number and told her to block her number.

They talked on the phone for almost seven hours on the first call. Their first date was about a month later, after staying in touch texting and on Facebook. After meeting in the Sam’s Club parking lot in Niles, they went to dinner and a movie.

“We’ve pretty much been inseparable ever since,” Michelle said.

The couple made it past the skepticism of some people around them because they met on the Internet. What counted most to Michelle and Matt was that their kids were fine with it.

“It doesn’t matter if I met him in a bar or ran into him in a grocery store,” Michelle said. “It’s like we went on a blind date, other than that it’s a normal relationship.”

Michelle and Matt bought a house together and were married New Year’s eve 2009.

The wedding was attended by about 20 people, held at the Sharpsville Historical Society.

“Our wedding was definitely unique,” Michelle said. “The ceremony had to be stopped in the middle because my youngest daughter lost the rings. Everyone was searching the entire historical society for the rings.”

The rings were eventually found and although it wasn’t funny at the time, Michelle said it makes for a good wedding story.

Michelle has two daughters, ages 8 and 11; Matt has a 16-year-old son, all from previous marriages.

The couple’s union merged their families and became even more the melting pot when they decided to become foster parents.

Michelle said they tried unsuccessfully to have children together, and Matt had the idea of fostering kids.

“I never considered it until he said it,” Michelle said. “He’s opened my eyes to that kind of world.”

Before starting the process, the couple talked to their kids about it.

“We make it a family affair,” Michelle said. “When a call comes in (to foster) it’s a family discussion before we go. We talk about the pros and cons and how it would change our lives.”

Michelle and Matt both come from less fortunate families, according to Matt.

“We realize there’s a lot of kids out there, teenagers that deserve to know there’s more,” Matt said. “We’ve had four kids in six months. It’s been quite an adventure.”

Michelle said for her girls, Maranda and Emily, it’s been quite an experience.

“It helps them realize how lucky they are,” Michelle said. “The hardest part is when they get attached (to the foster kids). That’s the difficult part.”

Even though it’s hard for them, Michelle said, they tried to soften the blow by telling them someone is usually placed in foster care a short period of time. She said the goal is to get them back to their families.

“How would you feel if someone took you away from Mommy and Daddy? Wouldn’t you want to come back to me if someone took you away?” Michelle said she told the girls. “That helps them understand why they come and go.”

Michelle said the ultimate goal is for them to adopt a foster child.

“It’s a matter of the stars all aligning,” Michelle said. “We’ll keep our door open and welcome them in until then.”

Neither Michelle nor Matt see their extended families very often – he was born and raised in Wheeling, W.Va.; she was born and raised in a “little Amish town” close to Indiana, Pa., in Armstrong County.

He landed in the Greenville area because of his job, and Michelle’s ex-husband’s job brought them to Hermitage.

Since they are not close to other family members, the couple makes sure their kids are the biggest part of their lives and they’re never left out.

Matt said he likes that Michelle makes a conscious effort to eat together every day.

“We do the old sit-down family dinner where anyone can talk about anything, whatever happened during your day,” Matt said.

Matt’s son enjoys the family dinners as well as the rest of the family.

“He said coming to our house was like coming to a restaurant,” Matt said. “The way we sit down and laugh and joke. He really liked that.”

“On Valentine’s Day we’ll do a family thing,” Matt said. “If they can’t go, we won’t go. It’s more about us being together.”

Although he splurged and bought Michelle a surprise present for Valentine’s Day, he said he doesn’t need a holiday to buy her something – he just buys it.

Michelle said she and Matt are so much alike yet very different – beyond he being 6-foot-3 and she being 4-foot-11.

“We are alike in a lot of ways. We’re both controlling and stubborn,” Michelle said. “He brings out the spontaneous side and I’m the one who kind of keeps us grounded.”

Michelle described her side of the story as “the white picket fence version.”

“Matt will give you the good stuff,” she said. “He doesn’t have that filter between his words and his mouth.”

“The biggest thing is, thanks to him, I can now be the stay-at-home mom,” Michelle said. “We were able to create a life that allows me to be home to raise my children.”

For Matt, it was buying a house, like they had a fresh start in life.

“If not for Michelle, I would never have put down roots,” Matt said. “It’s a pretty big step; she’s kind of made me grow up.”

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