' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Job's adoption was a pivotal factor in his life

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Job's adoption was a pivotal factor in his life

"If there was one trauma that persisted throughout much of his life, and which seems somehow connected to his extreme behavior, it was the effect of his adoption," according to the new biography of Steve Jobs, as reported in the Washington Post with Bloomberg Business this morning. Based on reading an advance copy of the new biography, the response was to a question asked by someone who knew Jobs: Why was he so mean?

Biographer Walter Isaacson was given complete control over the content of the book after Jobs asked him to be his biographer, and so it was not subject to Jobs's editing, and thus the answer above. From the Post:
At the age of 6 or 7, Jobs told the girl who lived across the street that he was adopted and she asked if that meant his “real parents didn’t want you.”

His adoptive parents, whom Jobs seemed to revere, explained that they had picked him out. But through much of his life, Jobs appeared to have been on an ill-defined spiritual quest — including a seven-month trip to India, extreme diets and primal-scream therapy. And the quest at times seemed to relate to his adoption, his friends told Isaacson.

“The primal scream and the mucusless diets, he was trying to cleanse himself and get deeper into his frustration about his birth,” a friend, Greg Calhoun, said.

The book chronicles the sometimes shabby treatment he accorded his adoring and ever-accommodating adoptive parents; the daughter he fathered when he was 23 and largely abandoned until she was 10; and how he appears to have cheated Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, during one of the duo’s first business ventures.
Steve Jobs's natural parents, "John" Jandali and Joann Schieble
We have wondered why there was not more about his birth mother, Joann Schieble Simpson, in the news, and we learned that she at 79 is institutionalized in a nursing home for serious dementia and is unlikely to even know that her firstborn has died. The (London) Daily Mail reports that after he found his mother the two kept in touch, as he did with his full sister, Mona Simpson. The mental condition of his mother has so far deteriorated she is said to have been admitted to a mental hospital after neighbours reported seeing her wandering the streets not appropriately dressed. She is now in a nursing home.  
Said a neighbor who knew her: 'She was a lovely woman so it was very hard to see her demise. Jobs knew about his birth mother's mental condition and is thought to have helped her financially. As any good and wealthy person might...we hasten to add.

We know we've covered the death and adoption of Steve Jobs, this amazing historic figure, in detail because his adoption continues to be big news, since he became such an iconic figure in the world. Frankly for us at FMF it is fascinating to see how it plays out in real life, without the usual fears of hurting someone (such as his adoptive parents) and in the hands of a respected biographer not connected personally to adoption (writer Walter Isaacson).  Full disclosure: I have a passing acquaintance with Isaacson. 

In the true life story of a major figure such as Jobs, there is no doubt that his adoption--and all four parents--are is going to be part of the story; no credible obit is going to fail to mention that Jobs was adopted. Yet there is frequently some skirmish about the obituaries of people not famous whether or not it will be mentioned that he or she is adopted, or that he or she was the adopted son or daughter of the deceased. Adoptive families often do not want it include that pertinent fact. But it is a true fact and is sure as hell is pertinent to the adopted. 

When my daughter Jane died, I had nothing to do with the funeral arrangements or the notices in the local newspapers in Wisconsin, but as I was a presence in her life from the time she was 15 on, I was included as her "birth mother," and so was my husband, as he for all intent and purposes was a kind of step-father. It did not say that she was the "adopted daughter" of, but then, it didn't need to.  
Undoubtedly, my feelings that "adoption," if it is a fact of one's life, ought to be included in the obituary have to do with the fact that unless it is, we mothers are once again relegated to the status of non-person. If our children were adopted, and that is deemed not a fact of their true life records, than we, the biological mothers, cease to exist. We are the uteri passing by. I am sure this is a controversial concept, and that many adoptees will disagree; but this is a natural mother speaking out here. It meant a great deal for me to be included in my daughter's obituary, and it was the first thing I scanned the article for. Yes, she was the daughter of someone else, but to me, she was always "my daughter" first and foremost. Not "birth" daughter; my daughter. Adoptees may not agree--and intellectually I can understand your reasoning--but allow us birth/first/natural mothers our own emotions and feelings here.  
But that someone was or is adopted is often left out of the obituaries of ordinary people, and as I understand it, at the request of many adoptees. Perhaps it does make them feel "more" a part of the family if the truth is obfuscated. I may understand the squishy thinking, but then here we go again: Let's play Hide the Truth. Obituaries are supposed to be the true story of one's life, not some fairy tale version with white-washed facts. If a son or daughter was adopted, say soThe dead often give up the best clues for someone searching because of what is found in obituaries, but not if they do not contain all the facts, the true facts.

The kind of thinking that would obliterate the reality of an adoption rather than a natural birth fits nicely into the fairy tale that adoption doesn't make much difference in the life of the person adopted. Which is total baloney. And that feeds into the idea of:  Who needs their original birth certificate? Who needs to know? And if that's the case, then birth mothers, and natural mothers and just plain mothers who have given birth all have some sacrosanct right of "privacy" and "anonymity" from the children they gave up for adoption. Which is also total hooey. Life is what it is and everyone has the right to know the truth of his origins. Obituaries should be true stories. Case closed.--lorraine
Our thanks to commenter SameOld today for alerting us this morning to the Washington Post story...and now I think I'll go have my first cup of coffee.  And to the Anonymous A who keeps informing me that Jobs did not search but was instead "ambushed" by his original family, if you have a source other than your imagination, do tell. All other sources say Jobs searched for his mother.
For more see previous posts:   Steve Jobs Did Meet His Father--without knowing it

Other sources: Washington Post  and Daily Mail.


  1. Morning Lorraine,

    I have no idea where your anon poster got the idea he had been ambushed by his family.

    Here is an interview in the NY Times in 1997 - page 9...


    But, Jobs says, since he was a teen-ager he had tried to locate his biological family. He had nearly given up when he discovered, at the age of 27, that his biological parents had another child later whom they had kept, his younger sister. For reasons of privacy, Jobs explains, he won't discuss his biological parents or how he ultimately tracked down his sister.

    As it turns out, his sister is the novelist Mona Simpson, whose new book, ''A Regular Guy,'' is about a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who bears a striking resemblance to Steve Jobs. After they met, Jobs forged a relationship with her, often visiting her in Manhattan, where she lived and still maintains an apartment. Theirs is a connection that, to this day, neither Jobs nor Simpson have discussed in the press, and now do so sparingly. ''My brother and I are very close,'' Simpson says. ''I admire him enormously.''

    Jobs says only: ''We're family. She's one of my best friends in the world. I call her and talk to her every couple of days.''

    Now I am off to get another coffee - Happy Sunday.

  2. I must say this is one of the only posts you have written that I almost 100% disagree with. I don't think that not being listed as the "adopted" son or daughter in an obituary is tantamount to saying that being adopted has no effect on the person. They are totally separate issues. Many adoptees don't even know who there first parents are and having adopted added to the obit is once again saying "the child who is not really a member of the family". I know an adult adoptee whose APs always introduced her as their "adopted daughter". It was very hurtful. She always felt that they wanted to keep reiterating that she isn't really their child. I would hope that in any obit of myself or my a-family that I would simply be listed as the daughter even if this isn't the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I was under the impression that adoptive families were supposed to be our families not long-term caretakers.

    This issue reminds me of why I support anonymity for rape victims. I disagree with the argument that by keeping her name private it somehow makes it shameful to be a rape victim or makes it seem as if she is somehow at fault. We all know that rape is not the victim's fault.

    I also didn't follow your reasoning on several other points but enough said for now.


  3. Lorraine, I am often confused at the behaviors that are exhibited by the so-called "content" or "happy" adoptee. Those that claim they don't care amaze me.

    Being nasty seems to be a trait that is part of the defense of self. If no one can get close because you act like a horrific ass, then no one can hurt you. It also leaves you extremely lonely.

    In Jobs case, I pity him. He was a sad, mean person that couldn't get himself together on the personal front. Worse, it was because he truly must have resented being adopted... and then never working out that no one "didn't want him" or really had a choice.


    As far as the person that is trying to change history, sigh, you can't argue with stupid.

  4. Robin: I knew this post was going to be controversial on the very point you picked up on, and I do see your point, but...as a mother...and I do mean, as a mother who gave up a child for adoption when my being cried out that something was wrong about that...my sympathies go to having obits tell the truth. Jane was my daughter I did not raise; she had a mother who did raise her: she had two sets of parents. In their hometown, of course, Jane would be the "daughter of...."

    But if we obscure the full depth of what it means to be someone's child "by adoption," then we are veering into the territory of making the truth not that important...as in giving adopted individuals their original birth certificates.

    When you say you disagree one hundred percent, do you disgree with Walter Isaacson's analysis of Jobs's behaviors? That I was just reporting. Isaacson will be interviewed on 60 Minutes tonight; I will be surprised if the adoption does not come up.

    Little has been said about how his adoptive parents have reacted to all this being written about his adoption, nor do we know much about them. His adoptive father has said that Jobs did not like to get his hands dirty working on say, the car, and he himself did.

    As for someone constantly introducing an individual as my "adopted daughter"--yikes! What could be more hurtful than that. I've acutally never heard of any one being that unnecessarily mean. The fact of someone's adoption doesn't have to be shared with any Tom, Dick or Jane on the street. A written factual purporting to be an accurate record is quite different.

  5. "Lorraine, I am often confused at the behaviors that are exhibited by the so-called "content" or "happy" adoptee. Those that claim they don't care amaze me."

    Amen. But I don't necessarily label Jobs as a "happy adoptee".

    Also, many successful people are classified as being "mean", when in fact, they are not. "Mean" can be interpreted many ways. Most highly successful people are very driven, and do not let emotions get in the way of their business goals. I do think that being a control freak is part of being a successful entrepreneur, and being an adoptee can send the control freak part into overdrive.

    I do have to wonder if Jobs' "non-relationship" with his n father had anything to do with his father & n mother's divorce. Unless he said it himself, anyone's reasoning for this is pure speculation.

    Regarding public obituaries, having had cancer twice, I think about my mortality a bit more than the average person.

    I have written my own obituary. Although I think my husband would honor my wishes, like Jobs & most adoptees I know, I am a bit of a control freak.

    I will list my adoptive parents as my adoptive parents, and my natural parents as my natural parents. Because that is my truth, and I would like some record of my life to be truthful. Lord knows I will probably never get my hands on my OBC, so I will at least be able to control what goes into my local newspaper, or into Ancestry.com's database, lol.

  6. First of all, I think that Steve Jobs being given up for adoption was a tragedy. From everything I've read his first parents wanted to keep him and they should have been able to. I also agree with Walter Isaacson's analysis that so many of Jobs' issues stem from being adopted.

    Where I disagree with your logic is basically from the second paragraph of the section "Including adopted in the obits of ordinary folk". I think you are jumping to a lot of conclusions in the next few sentences that I don't think necessarily follow.

    In my locale adoption is never mentioned in obituaries and I agree with that editorial decision. I think that any such information could be included in the death certificate which is a supposed to be a factual vital record of the deceased. As for using obituaries for searching purposes, the searcher would be able to get this information from the located family members.

    Yes, I really do know someone who was always introduced as the "adopted" daughter. There are more details to the story but this is her story to share not mine.

    And certainly we see things differently because you are a first parent and I am the child. The best we can do is to try to understand each other's experiences and perspective.


  7. Off topic of the blog, but in line with the many references we see in the media about adoption:

    I'm lying on the chaise reading the Sunday paper and I came across the review for this show premiering tonight. Wasn't going to watch, now I surely won't watch. I can't find the article online but will continue to look.

    The gist is that "the wicked queen gets her vengeance on Snow White, Prince Charming and the rest by casting a cruse that transports them into the mundane modern world, with no memory of who and what they once were....Other than the queen--now the mayor of the little hamlet of Storybrooke, Maine--the only free survivor of the fair tale kingdom is Snow and Charming's baby daughter Emma, who's protected from the spell and grows up to tough orphan who doesn't know where she really comes from."

    And it gets worse:

    "In the present day,[Emma] is confronted by Henry, the son she gave up for adoption--and who's now conveniently being raised in Storybrooke, and who has figured out the curse.

    I won't be watching.

    Nothing I like better than to have my daily dose of adoption while I'm leisurely enjoying the Sunday paper. As much as I try to avoid it [adoption], I'll never escape it. Never.


    Undoubtedly, my feelings that "adoption," if it is a fact of one's life, ought to be included in the obituary have to do with the fact that unless it is, we mothers are once again relegated to the status of non-person. If our children were adopted, and that is deemed not a fact of their true life records, than we, the biological mothers, cease to exist. We are the uteri passing by. I am sure this is a controversial concept, and that many adoptees will disagree; but this is a natural mother speaking out here. It meant a great deal for me to be included in my daughter's obituary, and it was the first thing I scanned the article for. Yes, she was also the daughter of someone else, but to me, she was always "my daughter" first and foremost. Not "birth" daughter; my daughter. Adoptees may not agree--and I can intellectually understand your reasoning--but allow us birth/first/natural mothers our own emotions and feelings here.

  9. "In my locale adoption is never mentioned in obituaries."

    In my locale - nowhere eastern edge of the Midwest and overwhelmingly conservative - whatever relationships people want and acknowledge are listed, including pets. I am amazed at the complexities of families (as a genealogist it is most helpful). Recently a first mother was listed with her child and the child's family, along with all other children. The family included step children and exchange students who remained very close. At least half the children were unmarried living with .... it was all there.

    Things have changed if my local rag presents all.

  10. Linda in the amazzzzzzing coat:

    Your mothers will all be pleased with your obit. But let's hope no one, including us, has to read it soon.

    I want taped Bob Dylan music at my memorial service: Knocking on Heaven's Gate and Forever Young. And then Joan Baez (who dated Jobs! for a time) singing: Amazing Grace.

    It's turning out to be as easy to work Steve Jobs into every story as Gail Collins finds a way to include Mitt Romney driving to Canada or Vermont with the family dog in a cage strapped to the roof of the car.

  11. Regarding referring to someone as their "adopted child": In his autobiography, "On the Outside Looking In," Michael Reagan wrote that Pres. Reagan's communications staff always referred to Michael as Pres. Reagan's adopted son. Michael finally asked Pres. Reagan to direct the communications people to refer to him as "the son of" which Pres. Reagan did.

  12. Lorraine wrote:" It meant a great deal for me to be included in my daughter's obituary, and it was the first thing I scanned the article for."

    I can certainly understand that and can see how when adoptees and first parents know each other that it is right to be included.


  13. I just 'reserved' the Steve Jobs book from my library - hope to read it soon!
    When I found out my daughter's 'new' name, a searcher found her agrandfather's obit, and she was listed as 'granddaughter of'....
    I'm glad that Jobs' adoption is "out there" in the news, maybe my daughter will re-think her no contact with me - at least I can Hope!! LOL!

  14. I think the fact that you are adopted should be included in your obituary. It is a factual record of your death. If you know names all the better. It is a geneological record of who you are.

    It would not be included on the death certificate simply because the OBC is still sealed and the legal parent is listed on the death certificate.

  15. The Steve Jobs segment on 60 minutes came across as very pro-adoption to me. Steve came to realize after talking with his a-parents that he had not been abandoned but was "special" and "chosen". It sounded like something the NCFA would write.


  16. I didn't think the 60 Minutes segment was pro-adoption, I thought it was mostly neutral--but wrong-headed when Isaacson got into the "special" and "chosen" baloney. But that didn't strike me as pro-adoption as much as buying into the outdated concept of the chosen babies, you know, people walking through a room full of "orphans" wrapped in clean pink and blue blankets and finding one who looks up and smiles at them, and they say: I'll take that one.

    Jobs did seem like a difficult, mean SOB. Brilliant, but still a SOB.

  17. Incidentally, this was in my wedding announcement. I wanted it to include the daughter I surrendered, and I doubt they would have included simply that IO gave up a daughter, so I did it this way:

    "The bride, a freelance writer and a former senior editor of Town & Country magazine, will retain her name. She was graduated from Wayne State University. Her books include ''Birthmark,'' published by M. Evans, a personal story of having a daughter and giving her up for adoption."

    Daughter Jane loved it. She told me it made her feel good, and wanted.

  18. I would be horrified if I was listed as my parents adopted daughter in their obits. I am just as much just their daughter as their bio son is just their son.

    I will leave instructions for all of four of my parents to be listed in my obit as well as my son.

    I highly doubt I will be in my mother's obit as she denies that I am hers, which is just the way things go.

  19. Hmm, on reading the comments I'm beginning to think that fully identifying obits might be one method for correcting the abusive system of of sealed records and fake birth certificates.

  20. Karen,

    I understand that. After all, they parented and raised and loved you. I think that it means a great deal to not be called "adopted" by the people that raise you.

    For me, my daughter will be listed, as will my grandsons.... but I doubt I would even be notified - so, I read the papers in her area and hope that I don't miss things.....


  21. maybe: that is my point exactly. Insisting on the truth in matters that are supposed to be truthful records...is one way to start. And it is true, that no notoriety could get away having an obit in which the fact of an adoption would be not recognized does indicate that it is a reality check. Yet I understand the feelings of adoptees. Does adding the word "adopted" mean "lesser"?

  22. As for obits I am not planning on having one for myself(although I am not planning on going anywhere anytime soon-hey,ya never know)And as for wills, I will definitely include my reunited son and any grandchildren in mine if I ever get around to making a will and if there's anything left to give by then

  23. Robin, I have to disagree with you. I didn't see the The 60 Minutes segment as pro-adoption.

    The program dispelled the myth that the only true family is the adoptive family by discussing Jobs' need to find his birth family and his closeness to the sister he didn't meet until he was in his late 20's.

    The program also brought out the abandonment issue which I have never heard mentioned outside adoption groups. It's true that Jobs' adoptive parents, like many adoptive parents, helped him deal with abandonment by telling him he was chosen and special. That may have proved to have cost him his life. He ignored medical advice in favor of "alternative treatment" for his cancer apparently believing that since he was chosen and special, he was not subject to the ordinary rules of biology

    The program also suggested that adoption was related to his meanness and bizarre behavior such as not taking baths, for example.

    I think the show might be a reality check for viewers who buy into adoption myths.

  24. Lorraine asks :" Does adding the word "adopted" mean "lesser"?"

    In this context, yes, it implies being less a part of the family. I have noticed some distinctions in the comments here based on which member of the "triad" the deceased is. I agree with Karen Lynn that on my AP's obits I would want to be named only as the daughter of. Maybe people also feel differently based on whether they are an only child, have other adopted siblings or are the only adoptee with bio-kid siblings.

    Jane mentioned Michael Reagan and how he disliked always being referred to as the adopted son. I have noticed that the media always does this with celebrities children. For example, stories always referred to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and their two adopted children. However, Suri, Tom's daugher with Katie Holmes is never referred to as his biological daughter. I think this practice does have an element of stigmatizing and marginalizing.

    In one of the creepier Hollywood adoption scenarios, Woody Allen has said publicly that he doesn't believe in adoption and that's why his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn was acceptable (i.e. that she really wasn't Mia Farrow's daugher). I find it distasteful that he and Soon-Yi have adopted two girls. I guess he doesn't really consider himself their father.


    I am glad that you saw the 60 minutes show as more balanced than I did. Words like "special" and "chosen" are triggering and all I could think was ....oh no, not this again. I certainly hope most viewers looked at it the way you did.

    In other news, Indian adoption agencies are now promoting adoption by encouraging PAPs to think they may be raising the next Steve Jobs.



  25. I thought it was a fairly progressive discussion too.

    It feels like all the educating we are all trying to do is starting to get through.

    I suspect pro-adoption groups did not think it was a pro-adoption interview given that some of the issues were recognized and talked about.

  26. Does anyone else find this post a bit morbid and disturbing? I pray I never have to see obits of my children because I went first, in which case I will not know or care what is in them. Worrying about what may be in the obit is not something I want to think about or focus on. In the face of overwhelming tragedy, a parent of any kind surviving a child, it seems petty to care who is listed in the obituary and how.

    Obituaries are written by the surviving family unless you are someone rich and famous. I wrote the ones for my mother and father. For adoptees, unless there is long-standing and amicable relationship with biological family, that generally means the adoptive family are in charge. It is their call what goes in the obit.

    Anyone worried about their own obit can pre-write it, and get family members to agree to follow your wishes. My surrendered son has been in all immediate family obits. I have seen obits of non-famous people that mention survived by birthmother and other biological kin. I do not think it necessary for adopted survivors to be identified as such, unless the person requested that. Many adoptees would find it hurtful. Adoption is something some families may wish to be public about, others may not.It is not about adoptees getting their OBC or any legal obligation to "the whole truth" in public.

    Obituaries are not legal documents nor do they need to tell all the details of anyone's life. They are a way for family and friends to remember and honor, not an indictment or police report.

    As to Steve Jobs, he was a private person and tried to keep his personal life out of the tabloids. I would like to respect that and let him rest in peace. None of us knew him. With all his flaws he accomplished great things that will live on. Isn't that enough?

  27. Quote For The Day about Jobs from Andrew Sullivan's blog on The Beast

    "His way to achieve catharsis is to hurt somebody. And I think he feels he has a liberty and a license to do that. The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don't apply to him. Because of how very sensitive he is, he knows exactly how to efficiently and effectively hurt someone. And he does do that," - Jon Ive, Apple's head of design, on Steve Jobs.

    This is behavior, I believe, resulting from his adoption "drama". Because he was rich and powerful, he had carte blanche to do it to anyone. He did.

  28. So do I personally think that being the adopted daughter of my parents makes me less than their bio son? Not in the least. What I do think though, that is that an obituary is not somewhere that I care to try to make a point about open records. Plenty of people do see being adopted as less. Believe me, I remember the comments when my mom was pregnant about how lucky they were to have one of their "own", after adopting twice.

    As a natural mother and an adopted adult I get tired of constantly fightin stereotypes, I do it darn near every day and I really don't want to fight that fight in my parents' obituaries and I can't imagine my brother would want to either. To our brothber that is their bio kid, we are just his siblings, it is how we grew up.

    There is a time and a place, my parents' obits would not be that place.

  29. @ Maryanne- I don't find this morbid at all. Death is a normal part of life.

    Many people write their own obits- my a grandmother did, and she was no one famous, nor was she rich.

    My husband will "make the call", and if he is not here, my children will do it for me- they know I have written it, and will send it to the papers when I croak. Im an adult, so my adoptive family does not make any "calls" about my life.

    Ancestry.com has millions of obituaries from newspapers on their site. While a obituary may not be a "legal document", they will be online forever. Since I will most likely never have my OBC, at least I will have the truth in my obituary, to go along with my corrected family tree- my TRUE and accurate family tree, that of my natural family.

    Steve Jobs is an excellent example of how an adoptee often times behaves. We're a$$holes, we're controlling, and we like it that way. We are this way because our lives were altered by the social engineering experiment called adoption. We have to fight the government, our parents and society just to get our legal records of birth- and sometimes have to fight to be heard- to be recognized as human beings and not mythical creatures.

    Steve Jobs tried to control every aspect of his life, and he did so up until he died. He "leaked" small details of his personal life over the years, now it's all out there. If he didn't want it that way, he wouldn't have agreed to the book.

  30. Linda, I did mention people can write their own obits. That solves the problem for anyone concerned about what is in theirs. Like so much in life, you can control your own, not necessarily other people's. Those who worry about this should do that.

    Also I realize I was writing from the perspective of a young adoptee dying where the adoptive parents would be in charge of the obit. With an older married person it would more likely be the surviving spouse, or children or grandchildren. What they put in the obit would depend on their family relationships with the adoptee's family, and the wishes of the adoptee. I agree with whoever said an obit should not be used as a soapbox for anything.

    Obits as a source of truthful medical or social history are somewhat useful in genealogy but need to be taken with a grain of salt.In old obits cause of death was often not mentioned or not accurate because they just did not know, and even in my memory cancer was the "C" word that was never written or uttered. There are still obits where one died "after a long illness" which could be cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease, anything. Suicides and deaths due to alcoholism were not stated as such. Estranged family members were sometimes not mentioned. Obituaries provide genealogical clues, but for more reliable truth you need to either talk to those who know or rely on legal documents.

  31. "We're a$$holes, we're controlling, and we like it that way."
    "We" are? And "we" do? What about the rest of "us" who aren't and don't? Not to mention all those non-adopted controlling a$$holes out there? I think you are making an assumption about cause and effect without consideration of intervening mechanisms.
    Anyway, controlling assholes sometimes come from controlling parents. Abdulfattah Jandali would be an example.

  32. Of course the fact that Jobs was adopted was of crucial importance to him, but I think it's a wild leap to suppose that being told he was a "chosen, special" child was instrumental in his decision to choose alternative cancer treatment over conventional.
    As a teenager he was a romantic idealistic who "turned on, tuned in and dropped out" to "do his own thing" (easily translatable into "start your own business") which he did brilliantly.
    In many respects, as well as being a great creative force and inspired businessman, he was also an unrepentant hippy. Given that his "alternative lifestyle" had always served him well, perhaps he saw no reason why it would not continue to do so.

  33. I know many adoptees who are not "controlling assholes", just as I know many people who have no connection to adoption who are! Generalizations like that are not enlightening. If adoption makes all adoptees like Steve Jobs, what about heredity? Could having a man with a similar personality and similar good and bad attributes for a natural father have had anything to do with it?

    To anyone proud of their assholiness for any reason, could this be part of your problem?

  34. SameOld: can you send me the link to the Andrew Sullivan piece? I couldn't find it this a.m.

  35. Jobs's Personality re being adopted:

    Of course it had some bearing on how he treated people, but I wouldn't put all the eggs in that basket--his maternal (and presumably German, according to the name) grandfather was obviously the bastard (pun intended) who prevented his parents from marrying in 1955 when it wasn't all that unusual for a woman of 22 to be "in a family way" when she got married. I don't know how soon after the baby son was adopted he died, but Job's natural parents did marry 10 months later. So that guy was kind of a tyrant--like Jobs.

    And other than Jandali, Jobs's biological father--didn't knock on his door--too proud, too feeling that if his son wanted a relationship he would have called him and can't we all understand that feeling?--plus the fact that he is brilliant, adopted or not, and he knows it--all that makes up a personality that did not brook less than brilliant innovation from others. And he let them know.

    Henry Ford was not a nice guy either--he was famously anti-Semitic, for starters--but he was brilliant too. I bet he wasn't easy for work for either.

    As for the obit issue: I don't think they ought to hurt people's feelings at what is likely to be a sad and vulnerable time, so if the sons and daughters, adopted or not, are just listed as sons and daughters, so be it. The children of famous people won't get away with that. But it does reduce their value as an accurate document that might guide searchers who cannot get their original birth certificates. That's just my thought and everyone ought to handle their obits, and their families, as they see fit. Karen Lynn, perhaps you have softened my position on this.

    My obit (presuming I die before they do) will list my TWO granddaughters; I would be willing to bet a million dollars that the obits of my daughter's adoptive parents will not list the daughter that Jane gave up for adoption. Mine will. But why should they? They have, as far as I know, absolutely zero interest in her while I feel like her grandmother, see her abilities a reflection of my blood line, etc., and feel an innate sense of connection that is quite overpowering.

    And I've already thought about how I will split the family jewelry (such as my mother's diamond ring, which I wear) between the two girls. One of them has diamond as her birthstone; the other will get the aquamarine pendant, which Tony gave me. I knew at the time I picked it out that it was the birthstone of one of them, and thought, Well, she will have this one day.

  36. This is off topic, but I wasn't sure how else to get it to the authors of FMF.

    A new story put out today by NPR that may interest you:


    Here's a quote:

    A decade ago, South Dakota designated all Native American children "special needs," which means Native American children who are permanently removed from their homes are worth more financially to the state than other children.

    In 10 years, this adoption bonus program has brought South Dakota almost a million dollars."

    Sorry to divert from the thread. Feel free to delete.

  37. I totally agree with Linda. There are exceptions to everything, I am sure she was talking about in general, adoptees in the aggregate and assumed that the readers of the comment would be sophisticated enough to grasp that.

    It is true, we are all special and unique

    @ Anon with the assholiness comment. That cracks me up. Anyone who thinks that assholes are the other is definitely not in touch with their own darker side. We all have them, even sainted you. I have found those in denial about it to be the most destructive kind of people. They are generally oblivious to other people but destructive nonetheless.

    Your style of writing is so familiar...


  38. @Anon..""Anyway, controlling assholes sometimes come from controlling parents. Abdulfattah Jandali would be an example.""

    Ahhh, Anon.. Jandali was his first parent, but Jandali had no hand in the raising of his son. Most 'controlling' behavior is learned behavior, from 'controlling' parents who raise the child. Controlling behavior can also be an outcrop from childhood, where the child felt he/she had no control at all within the environment they lived/raised in (this was definitely my experience as a child). I'm only stating this from living long enough, to see who's who in families (people I personally know) and how their children turned out as adults...including my own. I was very much the 'controlling' parent...one of my 3 raised children, now an adult (my youngest child)...even tops me in the 'controlling' department. Maybe Jandali was a 'controlling' parent, but he didn't raise his son, the adoptive parents did. Is it possible the adoptive parent/s exhibited 'controlling' behavior personalities, which impacted their adopted son? Nature vs. Nurture???..who knows!!

  39. "Assholes. We all have them."
    And some people's heads are further up their assholes than others.
    Which brings us back to the very interesting question, "Why was Jobs so mean?"

    His bio-father appears to be a proud and stubborn SOB, his grandfather on his bio-mother's side to have been an inflexible tyrant (although I wonder if any of that had to do with illness, since he died only five months after Steve was born. No info on why though. It could have been sudden or accidental), and it is possible as Chris suggests, that the a-parents were controlling too.
    Though Jobs seems to have been able to drop out of college without being unduly reproached, and was allowed use his a-father's garage from which Paul Jobs removed his car restoration equipment so Steve and Stephen Wozniak could use it to start their business. Neither of which indicates to me that the a-ps were particularly controlling.

    Of course it could just be that the elder Jobs made Steve put his dirty coffee cup in the sink one time too often, and that had a profoundly damaging effect on his personality.

  40. To anon who posted about the NPR program - I heard the program on the radio as I was driving home yesterday. Seems like adoption stories are stalking me - I've given up trying to avoid them. I hope casual listeners were finally hearing a different version of adoption than the sappy-happy media portrayal.

    Listening to that program broke my heart to think of the scores of native children removed from their homes so casually. :(

  41. I think some adoptees become more controlling and prickly, and some adoptees become more passive, and some, well, I don't know. There's a spectrum, for sure. I definitely was on the passive, passive, passive end. I never had the balls of Steve Jobs, still don't, but I sure wish I did! Much better, I think, to go through life treating people like shit and getting what you want than being treated like a doormat and thinking you're not worth anything. I think option Jobs is frankly awesome.

    He lived in the Bay Area and I know people who worked for him as architects. He would make people relay brick walls just because he could. Yes, he was an asshole. Whatever. I bet he didn't waste a hell of a lot of time bent over in self-doubt like I did. And he sure didn't waste time debating lame anonymouses on the Internet. Too busy.

    He's not the only adoptee CEO, by the way. Larry Ellison is another great adoptee asshole control freak. I worked for him at Oracle a decade ago. He used to have to sign EVERY SINGLE offer letter. God knows why. Maybe it's a male CEO thing? I don't know. It would be interesting to see what fraction of Fortune 500 CEOs are adopted.

    While being the "nice, compliant" adoptee was helpful in some ways, it did me way more harm than good. I've learned here in blogland that the nasties are still nasty, so why bother being nice? Might as well just be Steve. LOL They don't care what the adoptees think, anyway.

  42. Outside of adoption issues, which he seemed to me to be pretty up front about it, at least much more forthcoming than I am IRL and he did it as a public figure.

    Another part of this is though that brilliant people have never been known for their placid personalities.

    There are a lot of biological imperatives at work. I had a friend who was prominent in a specific medical research field who had worked with someone who had received the highest prize you can and he said that guy like to cuckold his lab assistants. I said that I had heard some research study that claimed desire for more access to sex was a prime motivator for Nobel winners- you know the glow that comes with that. He surprised me by saying, "I think that is very true"


  43. Perhaps if our moms wanted so badly to be included in our obit's it would've made more sense for them to keep us instead of abandoning us like they did? And yes, this doesn't apply to those who were drugged or tied-up 'n' such like - but for those who just caved to family/societal pressure, then tough. There's enough women who did/do fight to keep their kids that that excuse is just that - a lame excuse that excuses nothing.

    You wanna be included on your kids' obit., then DON'T ABANDON YOUR KID/S. Simples.

  44. Perhaps if our moms wanted so badly to be included in our obit's it would've made more sense for them to keep us instead of abandoning us like they did? And yes, this doesn't apply to those who were drugged or tied-up 'n' such like - but for those who just caved to family/societal pressure, then tough. There's enough women who did/do fight to keep their kids that that excuse is just that - a lame excuse that excuses nothing.

    You wanna be included on your kids' obit., then DON'T ABANDON YOUR KID/S. Simples.



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