An article at the Deseret Morning News website (see here) talks about Jill Ekstrom being charged with allegedly stealing microfilm that contained adoption records. Jill runs a research company called UtahFinders with a website that used to be located at www.utahfinders.com. Though the website is no longer available, below is an image of what it used to look like. You can click on the image for a larger version.
If you've read my blog, you know from a previous post (see here) about my feelings on adoption and open records concerning adoption. I won't go into those feelings again in this post. What I want to focus on in this post, is my own personal dealings with Jill Ekstrom.
When I was beginning to think about searching for my birth parents, I joined a group on the internet that was run by Jill. I joined this group for ideas on where to look and to see what others had experienced as they had searched for and found their birth parents. As my feelings to find my birth mother became more intense, I decided to contact a paid searcher. I ended up contacting a searcher named Sharlene Lightfoot who runs "Adoption Connection of Utah." I paid her an agreed upon sum and she quickly gave me the information about my birth mother, her parents, and siblings. I contacted Jill with this information and had Jill attempt the contact with my birth mother. When Jill made the contact, my birth mother denied ever having given up a child for adoption.
When my birth mother made the denial, Jill believed her entirely. Jill told me in her subsequent phone call to me that my information from Sharlene was false. She said something to the effect of, "There are many searchers out there who use illegal ways of getting information. I never do that, and I verify all my information from as many sources as possible." At the time, I got the feeling that Jill was a little upset that I hadn't used "her" services to find my birth mother.
I was quite distraught and wondered if I had been scammed. I immediately called Sharlene and told her what had transpired. She said that her information was correct and that she would be willing to contact one of my birth mother's siblings. She made the contact with my birth mother's sister and confirmed that my birth mother had indeed placed a child for adoption and got approval for me to call this sister directly. After Sharlene gave me this information I quickly hung up the phone with her and called my birth mother's sister. I still have a good relationship to this day with my birth mother's sister.
So what would make someone go from "I don't use illegal methods." to allegedly stealing court records? I'm not sure, but, I have my suspicions. It could be the money. According to the article, Jill charged about $850 to find birth parents for adoptees. It could be that Jill was frustrated by Utah laws dealing with closed adoptions and felt this could be a big help to many adoptees. It could be that Jill wanted to find out information for herself. It could also be that the records were not stolen, but, accidentally provided to Jill by a court staff member.