' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Steve Jobs Did Meet His Father--without knowing it

Friday, October 21, 2011

Steve Jobs Did Meet His Father--without knowing it

Steve Jobs’ biological father, Abdul Fattah Jandali, shown here with Joanne Carol Schieble, Jobs’ biological mother, never met his famous son. The 80-year-old Jandali, a Syrian immigrant from Homs, lives and works in the U.S. state of Nevada. (Photo courtesy Al Arabiya)
Steve Jobs’ biological father, Abdul Fattah Jandali, shown here with Joanne Carol Schieble, Jobs’ biological mother, (Photo courtesy Al Arabiya) See new details in the post today, Saturday, Oct. 22.

In the category of you couldn't make this stuff up--Steve Jobs did meet his father--and neither knew they they were father and son! This is a snippet of the new biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, today gleaned from the Huffington Post
Meeting His Biological Father
Jobs, who was adopted, was a customer at a Mediterranean restaurant north of San Jose without realizing that it was owned by his biological father -- from whom he was estranged.
The two eventually met. "It was amazing," Jobs later said of the revelation. "I had been to that restaurant a few times, and I remember meeting the owner. He was Syrian. Balding. We shook hands."
Nevertheless, Jobs still had no desire to see him. "I was a wealthy man by then, and I didn't trust him not to try to blackmail me or go to the press about it."

Like father, like son ... John Jandali and Steve
Jandali and son, Steve Jobs
Estranged is one way of putting it for a short capsule--Jandali was his biological father--but Jobs, as the world knows, was given up for adoption. In an interview before his son died, Jandali stated that both his Syrain pride and the fact that he did not want his son to think that he was going to hit him up for money prevented him from making more of an effort to meet Jobs. It seems that Jandali knew that his son felt this way--that he, Jandali, would hit him up for money, and so that did prevent him from making more of an effort to meet his son and reconcile to some degree. Jandali and son were connected by DNA, and it's not surprising that they both had this same understanding. 

After Jobs died, Jandali did reveal to the Wall Street Journal that he had sent his son emails as his cancer progressed, and that he sent him medical records that might be useful, and his son responded tersely. While that seems harsh, we know as first mothers how even such an acknowledgment from children who do not respond in any way would be better than the silence we may encounter.

I'm assuming that the book goes into some detail about Jobs's birth to Joann Schieble, his birth/biological mother. Schieble was a single woman in 1955 when her tyrannical father objected to her marriage to a Syrian Arab, Abdulfattah "John" Jandali when they fell in love as graduate students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. To hide her shame in her home state, Schieble she went to San Francisco, had her son, and gave him up for adoption to a couple named Paul and Clara Jobs.

Ten months later, after the death of her overbearing father, Jandali and Schieble married and had a daughter, Mona. According to Fortune magazine, financial setbacks here led Jandali to settle his family in his native Syria, in the hope that he could get a job in the diplomatic corps, where he had a relative. That did not work out; Jandali went to work in an oil refinery. Not long thereafter, he and his wife separated, and she moved back to Wisconsin, where she eventually remarried someone named Simpson. Mona also took that last name--perhaps she was legally adopted, I would assume that but have not read it--and she grew up to become the acclaimed novelist, Mona Simpson.

The way life plays in this family drama has the aura of a Greek tragedy. Jobs could not "forgive" his father for his adoption, no matter how good his adoptive parents were, or how his life turned out. When adoptive parents bully us birth mothers, as they have in the last couple of weeks, what they do not consider is that no matter the circumstances, being given up for adoption instills a sense of abandonment in the heart of the given up. The story of Moses would be an exception, because he would have been killed if he had not been set adrift in a basket of reeds. But that is not it is how for the rest of us, both birth/natural mothers and adoptees. And we make do with what is. --lorraine


  1. Steve Jobs going to that restaurant and unwittingly meeting his biological father is just one of those'coincidences' that we as reunited first mothers know all too well. For instance, in the years leading up to my finding my son, I used to do research in the library(in the days right before the internet). There is a library less than a mile from my house. Did I go there? No. I felt compelled to drive 12 miles almost every day to another library that, as it turned out was at the entrance of the road leading to where my son was. Strange coincidence?

  2. Too bad Steve Jobs didn't talk to Oprah. Not all Birth/First/Natural parents or relatives fit the negative adoption mythology.

    I think these kinds of things happen very frequently in adoption. My son was raised half a block from my grandmother's house. We played in the same neighbourhood as kids. The hill he went down on his skateboard I went down on my rollerskates. Cracked my tooth once when I fell, the little crack is still there.


  3. Sorry to say it, but I have to agree about the sense of abandonment. I struggle with it every day. On a rational level, I know why she did it. I know why she felt pressured, although she was 22 and had a job. There was, in the Midwest, no way she could keep me without the support of her parents. Combined with not knowing my father: well, I was cooked. As an adult, I can see and understand, but the baby, not so much. Emotions and the cognitive center don't always align.

  4. Ms. Marginalia:

    that is so my story that you have there: raised in the Midwest, and 22 years old and it was 1966. Not the era of flower children and love, but of good girls and shame if you were not.

    Yes, from all that I have learned, that sense of abandonment in the hear of the adoptee never leaves.

  5. I agree - it is the silence that is most agonizing. I didn't know what to expect after initial contact was made with my twin daughters given up for adoption. I know I did not expect the long periods of silence from them, years even. Trying to be respectful of their needs, I continue to allow them to take the lead, even into silence. But for me, these elusive touches seem only to exacerbate my questions, regrets, insecurities and grief. I can't help but think we must be seeking the same thing on both sides - solace, comfort, reassurance of our existence. Yet it seems so difficult. The barriers seem numerous and informed by many variables - social, religious, cultural - and the reality that while we are genetically the same, our paths separated more than 26 years ago, expanding and multiplying those variables. I see no easy solution, nor I suppose, did I expect one. Only one foot in front of the other; it's a day-to-day journey, this life.


  6. "I was a wealthy man by then, and I didn't trust him not to try to blackmail me or go to the press about it."

    I find this comment interesting. I have heard this comment more than one time from adoptees who have not yet reunited and it is most often from the males. I am curious why they think that this is even a possibility. In this case, the evil doer was the mother's father, who forced them to separate and forced the surrender, even though the father tried to do what he could. And, still, with that, Jobs was fearful that he would hit him up for money. I cannot believe that this is not something that is taught. It makes me wonder what the messages, subliminal or overt, that the adopted child is receiving about the people who gave him/her life.

    Further, where are these messages coming from? Who is conveying this information to the child?

    This further reinforces the "crack-whore birthmother" myth that the mothers have attempted to dispel for decades.

  7. I remember thinking my mother was going to ask me for money when she met me. Because I figured she was an axe-wielding, drug-addled prostitute and she probably needed money--just to get through the week, man.

    I felt sad that I didn't have any to give her.

    I can't relate to feeling like money is more important than people.


  8. It's my understanding that there is a lot more interesting facts to Steve's life story. He did have a very good relationship with his sister born after their parent’s mother married. Ironically, only 10 months after Steve had been placed for adoption and the stern religious maternal grandfather had passed away.But why did Steve choose to stay in contact with his sister who he apparently didn’t even object to her writing a book about him? Perhaps it had to do with the relationship that his sister had with their father over the years that helped Steve determine what he needed from him as well. Not criticism, I just find what didn't make the news media or in any book could change how we perceive Steve's personal feelings about his father.

  9. @Sherri,
    Did your daughters tell you not to contact them or are you just assuming they don't want contact because they aren't the ones initiating it?


  10. Kitta here:

    what I find interesting is that Steve Jobs apparently did not have the same fears regarding his mother. He actively searched for her.

    I wonder if Jobs held his father responsible for the abandonment. I think that male adopted people sometimes are able to put themselves into the role of the abandoning father.

    Of course, that is NOT always what happened. But it happened often enough.

  11. Honestly, I am not even remotely surprised. I know that my daughter and I lived no more than 300 miles apart, sometimes even passing within a few hundred feet of each other over the years (after the adopters brought her back to the US). She was raised in a very small town that I passed through numerous times and had even lived in for a short period of time while she was still overseas.

    to Anon 5:30 p.m. - just a thought but he may have learned what her "take" on their father was, but not about his father. One thing I know for sure is that just because you are in the same place, watching the same thing, you don't get the same memory. So, there is no telling what Jobs' father was really about by listening to his sister - who had her own paint on that picture as well.

    Just a thought.

  12. Re Mona Simpson and Steve Jobs:

    The book is called "A Regular Guy" and he was apparently at first angry but they reconciled. See one of FMF's earlier columns.

  13. Given the story my APs had told me about my mother in childhood (which was close-ish to the real deal) and what I'd learned from my non-identifying information about her education and background, I doubted strongly that she'd want anything from me on the financial side. When I approached her, I was married and 31 and financially stable--at least my husband was, I was in grad school. She turned me down flat through the CI, and I always harbored the fear that *she* worried I wanted something from her. In the letters I wrote over the ensuing 11 years I made it clear that I was set and just wanted to know her.

    It's so very sad that we have to walk these tightropes and worry very intensely about upsetting the other party. To this day, I fear offending her, and will ask, "Did I offend you?" if she abruptly says she has to go. There are so many attendant variables.

  14. My understanding is that Jobs did NOT search for any of his birth family. His sister found him and invited him to a party and sprang the news on him at the social gathering.
    My understanding is that the father abandoned Jobs' sister when he divorced her mother. Perhaps Jobs was instructed to stay away from the man being as he eventually became close to his sister.

  15. Jobs did search. See previous posts.

  16. @Robin The first time, they said they wished to "step away" and that they would re-engage contact when they were ready. Several years later, one of them initiated e-mail conversations, and she did not make a firm statement like the first, simply stopped responding. After a number of unanswered e-mails from my side, I can only wait. And send them both a wish for a good birthday when it comes around. What else?
    ~ Sherri

  17. Regarding the fear that birth parents or adoptees are seeking a reunion for money: In his book "A Man and His Mother," adoptee Tim green wrote that his birth father was reluctant to meet him, assuming that Green was after money. Green was a popular author and former NFL player and, as he told his birth father, he had his "own dough." Still it took some convincing.

    My daughter Rebecca contacted her birth father and told him she wanted to meet him. Upon learning she was a Mormon, he said "you're not coming here to convert me, are you?.

    It's sad that there is so much misinformation about adoption that otherwise intelligent people are ignorant about why adoptees and birth parents seek reunions.

  18. Nancy Effay:

    I did try to read your blog, but I started laughing so hard I had to stop...before I vomited all over my keyboard.

    So, are you the thought police now? Or the word police? You want Lorraine and Jane to remove their blog? Are you out of your mind?

    I bet you burn books on your spare time and lobby school districts to remove objectionable books, like Tom Sawyer and To Kill a Mockingbird.

    It's women like you who give adoptive moms a bad name. Most of the amoms I know are decent and loving human beings...kind of the antithesis of you.

  19. Thanks for the info, CB. Wouldn't you know, the NCFA afraid to post under its own name.

  20. So many interesting issues have been brought up in this post.

    "what they do not consider is that no matter the circumstances, being given up for adoption instills a sense of abandonment in the heart of the given up."

    And sometimes a sense of rejection, of being unwanted and often a pervasive sadness. I have been thinking about the terms birth mother, first mother, original mother, etc. I think that by using these modifiers it softens the impact of being given up. The truth is my PARENTS relinquished me and that's why it hurts so much. Obviously, here at FMF we have to use these modifiers or it would be too confusing to know who we were talking about.

    Playing armchair psychologist here. I wonder if the whole money issue with Steve Jobs and his n-father was just an excuse. Maybe Steve was angry at his father and felt that he could have stepped up to the plate and raised him. I have also wondered if his reported tyrannical management style had some of its roots in adoptee anger.

    Coincidences: I have spent time in both the city where my mother grew up and the town where many of my first father's family lived. I may have walked by my relatives and neither of us would have had a clue. Turns out I even went to the workplace of one of my relatives and again we may have seen each other and never knew we were related. It actually seems unfair to bio-family members of a closed adoption since they are missing part of the truth of their lives, too (i.e. not even knowing they have another family member).

    And if Nancy Effay is NCFA maybe she should be Eff-U rather than Eff-A :)

    I just asked that because it can be helpful to an adoptee if the mother makes more of the contact. I know in my case after my initial phone call to my first mother, she was the one who initiated most of the rest of our contact. That was very helpful/healing to me as it eventually enabled me to let down my guard when I could see that she wasn't going to abandon me again. I have read comments here at FMF that suggest since the child was not in control of the adoption that s/he should be the one to initiate further contact after a reunion. I disagree. I think it is better for the first mother/father to demonstrate to the adoptee that s/he is there for them. And by this I don't mean calling 6 times a day! I mean a reasonable amount of contact. Reunions are not like developing a new friendship where both people want to make a similar amount of effort to show that they are both interested in pursuing the relationship. I just couldn't tell by your comment, Sherri, what the situation was with your daughters. Thought maybe this would help :)


  21. Ms. WanderGirl said, "My mother is 'stuck' and has not responded to my communication. I did connect with someone from her past, who was definitely sussing me (maybe to make sure that I was telling the truth and/or not going to ask for money)."

    Here's my edited version, which is very similar:

    My daughter has not responded to my communication. I did connect with someone from her past, who was definitely sussing me (maybe to make sure that I was telling the truth and/or not going to ask her or her parents for money).

    Same story, different cast of characters.

    And Mrs. NCFA...er...Nancy Effay - I, for one, love your blog. Your satirical whit captures the extremes of the adoption industry in such a clever fashion. Fortunately, I know there are *many* adoptive mothers out there who aren't so...whatever it is that you are. Thanks for the laughs anyway.

  22. @Raven,
    I did the same thing you did with Nancy Effay. Parody, ha ha ha. Loved the story about using lemons to turn the boy's red hair blonde. And Lorraine is on the Watchlist as an enemy of adoption. lol


  23. To the ANONYMOUS A individual who keeps writing that Jobs was "ambushed" by his original family and did not search (from Wikipedia, and if that was wrong, it certainly would have been corrected):

    When Steve Jobs tracked down his biological mother, she told him that Mona Simpson was his biological sister. The siblings met for the first time in 1984 and developed a close friendship. After they decided to find their father, Simpson searched and found Jandali managing a coffee shop. When she reached Jandali, Jobs recalled in a taped interview, Jandali said, "'I wish you could have seen me when I was running a bigger restaurant.'"

    Without knowing who his son was, Jandali volunteered to Simpson that he had once managed a popular Mediterranean restaurant in Silicon Valley. "'Everybody used to come there,'" Jobs biographer, Walter Isaacson, says Jandali told Simpson. "'Even Steve Jobs used to eat there. Yeah, he was a great tipper.'" [9]

    In the taped interview aired on 60 Minutes, Jobs said: "When I was looking for my biological mother, obviously, you know, I was looking for my biological father at the same time, and I learned a little bit about him and I didn't like what I learned. I asked her (Mona) to not tell him that we ever met...not tell him anything about me." [10]

    The siblings kept their relationship secret until 1986 when she introduced him at her book party for her first novel, Anywhere But Here, which was loosely based on her life travels from Wisconsin to California with her mother.[11]

  24. We all keep hearing about His father. Whats the story with his mother?

    Money is huge in reunions. I know when i wrote a letter to a potential father i made sure it was understood that i WAS NOT looking for money. Had a career and was able to support myself. I had 2 intelligant people tell me that adopted children look for parents for money. I was so stunned i didn't say anything. Then i felt dirty, as if thats what everyone thought i was doing. When in reality the whole reason a child is given up(usually) is for lack of money. So one would assume they are still poor.

    My bmom was poor, so what. Not sure who my bfather is. I have a brother that won't search ecause he is afraid she will ask for money that he does not have! You know some males really Identify themselves by how much money they make...maybe thats where it comes from?

    AS far as living close....well I was adopted through the state so it only stands to reason i would be adopted by someone in state...I was adopted into the NEXT TOWN OVER! I lived with the inlaws when i first got married...biograndmother lived in apartment complex right behind me, my aunt(whom i was very close to) lived in the same complex. I was there all the time and thats where iwent to meet my first mother for the first time.

    All I know is that feel so um... I don't know...shameful , as if money is the unspoken reason that adoptees look when i mention finding my father...I really hate it. If Steve Jobs was feeling resentment, abandonemnt, anger towards his father i can understand his holding back just based on money. Its not healthy, its not right but i can understand it.

    I remember a mother saying that after she palced her child she went to college, never had any other children and was wealthy. Didn't know whterh she should leave her money with her placed son or give to charity. She said that he would have to live up to her expecations and need to prove he desrved it...I told her to give it to charity.

  25. Honestly, I'm not sure I could ever deem myself someone's "love child".... seriously "anon" ... is that the way we stick up for our mothers? Doesn't she deserve a little more respect?

    Steve Jobs had the anger.. and the desire to know as well... speculation is fulfilling in a way, but it seems to me, he was just as conflicted as your regular, garden variety adoptee... we are all the same in so many wa

    A word of caution, it's so easy to scapegoat our mom's... I always try to think, what would I have done if I were 14 and had no options... mine still held out for a year.. she deserves my respect and admiration, not judgement, not scorn. I hate the expected and assumed burden of emotional responsibility that is arbitrarily placed on our mothers. I'm probably off topic, but that is where my heart and head are tonight.

    btw, Nancy Effay = kook, can't be anything but NCFA.... so glad you guys cleared that up... jeeeeeeeeez! Lo, never ever take down a blog!



  26. So are those against search now thinking that adoptees are only looking for our first parents so that we can get money from them? Let's see, we've been the shame, the embarrassment, we ruined their lives, can't we just accept that our adoptive parents are our REAL parents and let sleeping dogs lie? Will it ever end?

    When I was searching for my n-mother the thought of getting money from her never even crossed my mind.


  27. Tamara, the teensy bits of information I have discovered so far suggest my birthfather with Nancy was a married man, and as you know when the father is married the baby is often called a "love child" so I think I have the right to call myself that.
    I am sure my Nancy wouldn't have been the sort of girl to have sex with a man if she hadn't been head-over-heels in love with him.
    I've also picked up a few hints that my birthdaddy may have been one of the founding fathers of the NCFA and do you know, that wouldn't surprise me at all.

  28. "The story of Moses would be an exception, because he would have been killed if he had not been set adrift in a basket of reeds."

    Personally, I'd've rather've been killed - at least then the lifetime of agony would've been over in minutes or hours or days or even weeks, certainly quicker than these decades of agony that I've had to endure.

    Wrt living by bfamily: A'rents lived (according to Gmaps) 4.7 miles from bmom, and pat.anan lived directly across the road from bmom and used to take me to play on the park that was attached to the flats that bmom lived in until I was 7. This means that without knowing it, I may even have played with my older sister as a kid on the park. It also means that I may very well have seen my bmom when walking up and down the High Street or around the local market as a kid, scouring faces to see if anyone looked even vaguely like me. Also, said mat.bsis was in one of the local marching bands that I used to see pretty much every weekend because I was also in one of the local marching bands, which used to go out every weekend in the summer to compete against the band my sister was in.

    Yup, complete and utter mindfrak.

  29. Adoptive parents bully("?") birth mothers?
    That's a wanton generalization.
    As for Steve Jobs adoptive parents, they have NEVER bullied his biological parents.
    How many adoptive parents bully the biological parents? Do you have some statistical proof?

  30. Preston Bagration--I re read the post and it does not say that Jobs's natural parents bullied him; I was referring to what does occur at times on Facebook.



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