LOCAL NEWS

Family Says Adoption Agency Pressured Them, Biological Mother in Illegal Marshallese Adoption

Oct 9, 2019, 9:40 PM | Updated: 10:38 pm

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – When Dallas and Angie Lundquist were first matched for adoption with a pregnant woman from the Marshall Islands, it seemed like an answer to their prayers. They had heard of the adoption agency, run by Paul Petersen, the now-former Maricopa County, Arizona, assessor through a friend of a friend.

“Seemed like a great thing,” Angie Lundquist said, adding that they researched the agency online as well. “That’s when we came across who he was, and what he was doing, and all of his success stories.”

Petersen now faces eleven charges filed by the Utah Attorney General’s Office and charges in Arkansas and Arizona. He was accused of what one client couple referred to in charging documents as something similar to a “baby mill,” where pregnant women from the Marshall Islands would skirt the countries’ immigration laws, which do not allow women to come into the U.S. to give birth for the purpose of giving up their children for adoption.

Charging documents stated Petersen would charge couples as much as $41,000 for the adoptions. The Marshallese women would go home with $10,000, which in their home country is enough to support them for many years. Prosecutors said Petersen brought more than 40 women into Utah between December 2016 and September 2018, with sometimes more than a dozen at a time staying in a home owned by Petersen in West Valley City.

The Lundquists said something didn’t feel right with their adoption, particularly after the mother gave birth. They said the mother seemed confused and concerned in the hospital, and because they were working with a translator hired by Petersen’s agency, they couldn’t get a clear answer as to what was going on.

“The whole time I was like, I don’t know that she wants to give the baby up,” Dallas Lundquist said.

The Lundquists said as they asked questions, Petersen pressured them, saying he could easily place the child elsewhere.

It wasn’t until after the Lundquists arrived home with the baby girl that they said they learned of the biological mother’s concerns.

“We got the call from our attorney that she was not going to sign the papers, and that she wanted to have the baby back,” Angie said. “We had to drive to Salt Lake, and leave the baby with the outfit that we bought her, and the blanket that we bought her, and the car seat that we had for her, as well as all the emotional baggage that goes along with that.”

They left the baby with their attorney, to be returned to the mother.

“I set the baby down, and I just fell into his arms, sobbing,” Angie said. “Like he was the only thing keeping me from falling on the floor because I was so devastated.”

The Lundquists said through their attorney that they were eventually able to get most of their money back, though they’ve heard from others in their situation who were not as fortunate.

“That’s why I’m grateful that not only adoptive families on our side, but the birth families, the birth moms will not have to go through this anymore, at least with him,” Angie Lundquist said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Randy Martin working on a reading station in West Valley City. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderson)...
Mike Anderson

Utah air quality is continuing to get worse, says USU professor

A Utah State University professor says that Utahns are breathing some of the worst air we've seen in over a decade.
1 day ago
The area where first responders rescued the two people (Weber Fire District)...
Michael Houck

Two rescued from Pineview Reservoir after falling through ice

Officials are warning residents of thin ice after two people needed rescuing from the Pineview Reservoir Saturday morning. 
1 day ago
(KSL TV)...
Michael Houck

Police: Man threatening neighbors with knife, leads officers in multi-agency chase

A man is in police custody after "waving" a knife around bystanders and fleeing from police Friday evening.
1 day ago
Presenters at the Health Relationship Youth Summit asking for final questions. (KSL-TV's Mark Less)...
Alex Cabrero

Utah teens learn more about healthy relationships at youth summit

Teenagers gathered at a Healthy Relationship Youth Summit to learn more about the signs of unhealthy relationships and be able to identify them.
1 day ago
snow covered bowl in Utah mountains...
Michael Houck

Woman hit by snowmobile while tubing near Peter Sinks, flown to U of U hospital

First responders treated a woman hit by a snowmobile while tubing near the Peter Sinks area Saturday afternoon.
1 day ago
For 29 years, Mike Skogerboe has been to nearly every girls and boys basketball game, and nearly ev...
Mike Anderson

Fremont High School helps support their superfan

Students and teachers at Fremont High School teamed up to help out their superfan who rarely misses a game.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Family Says Adoption Agency Pressured Them, Biological Mother in Illegal Marshallese Adoption