Steve wasn't interested in what people wanted to tell him. He became obsessed with the answers they wouldn't give him.

At 29, he is tall, successful, good-looking and "for the first time in my life, complete."He is also stubborn. That trait has changed his life.

As an infant, he was adopted by a loving couple who have been very good parents. He is devoted to them and would not trade them for anything.

His love for them didn't prevent him from wanting to know about his natural parents. It was a question, he said, that involved medical concerns, curiosity and his sense of self. He wanted to know his biological history.

He might as well have asked for "the meaning of life."

No one could tell him. Adoption agency officials explained that records of his birth were sealed and "that was that."

Could they contact his birth mother and see if she would like to get in touch with him? he wondered.

The answer was a flat "no way."

In 47 states, it doesn't matter if both birth mother and child want to find each other; the records are sealed - for protection of both parties.

If both parties want to find each other, who is being protected? I asked him.

"Exactly," he said.

Steve said the only way to track your birth parents is to find a loophole or get an official to make a mistake.

He was lucky. Somebody made a big mistake that enabled him to track down his "other family."

Early in his search for his birth parents - a search he undertook with the support and sympathy of his parents - he found a legal document that contained the name he was given at birth. It should have been obliterated, but someone got sloppy. He was named after his birth father and was "delighted when I saw those two letters: J-R."

His quest took work. He wasn't born in Utah, and he played telephone tag for a long time before he located someone who knew his father, who he learned was deceased. That call put him in touch with an uncle and some cousins who are now part of his life.

The search for his mother took longer. In the end, though, he found her, and they are building a relationship.

He told me his story on the steps of the Capitol last week. He was part of a group rallying to have adoption records unsealed. Why, I asked, does he care, now that he has found his birth mother? Unsealing records won't do anything for him.

"I know I had simple luck," he said. "I want everyone here to have what I now have."

In a medical emergency, he can pick up the phone and call his birth mother. When people are discussing their Irish or Bulgarian or Egyptian ancestors, he can talk about his.

It's as simple as being able to say, "It's a good thing I don't drink. Alcoholism runs in my father's side of the family."

Had Steve and his birth parents both been in Utah, his search might have been somewhat easier. Utah has an adoption registry. Adopted children and birth parents can register. If both register, there's a match and they are put into contact with each other.

The registry is a positive step. But the women who have given up a child and wonder if that child is still alive and the children who would like to know about their heritages say it isn't enough.

The records - their lives - should not be a secret, they say. Especially if the secrecy is keeping apart two people who want to find each other.

Officials say open records have a chilling effect on adoptions. If that's true, why are so many people willing to pay attorney's fees for an adoption process that promises both parent and child access to information and to each other? Steve asked.

Adopted children often want to know something about their birth parents, from medical history to why the child was given up for adoption. Thousands, as adults, are trying to form some type of relationship with their birth parents, while still cherishing their parents.

The number of birth mothers gathered at the Capitol indicates that they want to know their children.

For whatever reason, a mother decides she can't care of her child. That decision doesn't mean the child is not very much loved. Love is often the reason a child is given up, I was told.

Surely that love can be the foundation for a relationship between two people who want to find each other.