Steve Jobs’s Biological Father Regrets Adoption

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Steve Jobs’s biological father, 80 year old Syrian immigrant Abdulfattah John Jandali, said in an interview this weekend that he regrets giving up his son for adoption. According to The New York Post, Mr. Jandali said that he and Steve Jobs have never met or spoken, but that he would like to do so.

Abdulfattah John Jandali

Abdulfattah John Jandali
(Click the image for a larger version)

“This might sound strange, though, but I am not prepared, even if either of us was on our deathbeds, to pick up the phone to call him,” Mr. Jandali said. “Steve will have to do that, as the Syrian pride in me does not want him ever to think I am after his fortune.”

According to Mr. Jandali, he had asked his girlfriend, Joanne Simpson, to marry him after she became pregnant, but that her father forbade the marriage because of Mr. Jandali’s Syrian origins.

It being 1955, Ms. Simpson then skipped off to San Francisco to have the baby in order to spare the family any shame at the out-of-wedlock birth, where the baby was then adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs, who then lived in Mountain View. [Editor’s Note: Ask your parents or grandparents about getting pregnant out of marriage in the U.S. in the 1950s if that sounds kooky to you. - Editor]

Mr. Jandali also said that Ms. Simpson’s father died soon after the birth, that the two reunited, but that it was too late to do anything about the adoption.

Mr. Jandali, who goes by John in his adoptive country, is still working, despite being 80 years old. He is the vice president of the Boomtown Casino and Hotel in Reno, NV, casino. According to the Post, he works six days a week, gets up every morning at 5:00 AM to work out in a gym, and drives himself to work in a Jeep Cherokee.

“Now I just live in hope that, before it is too late, he will reach out to me, because even to have just one coffee with him just once would make me a very happy man,” he said. “Because I really am not his dad. Mr. and Mrs. Jobs are, as they raised him. And I don’t want to take their place. I just would like to get to know this amazing man I helped in a very small way to produce.”

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Comments

mhikl

I can understand his interest. A son is a son, regardless. Sounds like a spunky fellow keeping in shape and engaged in a job he probably enjoys and not driving an old man car. Steve was/may be just as nervous about a visit as he is.

I agree. Times have changed since the fifties so someone should make a move before it’s too late.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I can understand his interest. A son is a son, regardless.

Horseshit. Let me offer a good rule of etiquette on adoption… If you are not touched by it, just shut the f—- up with opinions about it.

My recently deceased grandmother, about 25 years ago during a pretty severe health crisis for her, stitched a pillow for my Mom (adopted) which read: “Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone. But miraculously my own. Never forget even for a minute, you were not born under my heart, but in it.”

Regardless of what you see on Oprah, that is actually all you need to know about adoption. It is still very personal, it was never shameful for child or parents who adopted. If Steve doesn’t want to connect with a sperm donor, that’s his business, not anyone else’s. Mr. sperm donor is a first class prick for making a public issue of it.

furbies

Well, as someone who is adopted, let me stick my oar in.
(I was born and adopted in early ‘64)

I don’t think it was very sensitive of Mr Jandali to talk about the adoption of Steve Jobs in a public forum/media without Steve’s consent.

However I can say from personal experience, that it can be very interesting/enlightening to meet one’s biological parents. From that I met 2 sisters & 4 brothers (I have a lot of half siblings), and a niece & nephew.
And just for laughs, one of my sisters is also adopted.

And Bosco, from reading the New York Post article, Mr Jandali was more than just a “Sperm Donor”

Rayu Thompson

As an adopted child who had been fortunate enough to find and know both of my birth families (birth parents were deceased), I appreciate the sincerity and tone one this man’s understandable position.  I hope they can meet sometime…
—-
Bye R@y

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@furbies: To Steve Jobs, all Mr. Jandali might appear to be is a sperm donor.

Can we all agree on a couple of facts here. (1) If Steve Jobs wanted to get in touch with this guy, he could do it using that private jet the company bought him. (2) As a tissue recipient and one who has suffered some terrible health issues, he probably has strong incentive to have contact with biological relatives. (3) I don’t like Steve Jobs, so my consideration of how he might feel as muy importante indicates how personal I think this issue is. Look, not all “adopted” people desire contact with biological donors or other offspring of biological donors. It’s a choice, and both options deserve respect, not just the one that infatuates daytime TV watchers.

@Rayu: Would you consider modifying your statement to be that you hope they can meet if both desire to meet? It ought to be pretty damned obvious to any Mac Observer (or other observer for that matter) that for 56 years, one of them hasn’t.

And FFS, can’t the guy just send Steve an email? Everybody else does.

BlueDjinn

From the info given in the article, and from his comments, it certainly *sounds* like he’s a decent guy.

The real proof would be this: Who arranged for the interview? That is, did the Post hunt him down and request the interview, or did he contact them?

If they called him, fair enough.

If he (or his representative) called them and/or any other media outlets to arrange for an interview, then that sure as hell sounds like trying to exploit his relationship to me.

RonMacGuy

Seems to me that John is pretty sincere.  But it all depends on what Steve wants to do.  Yes, it probably should have been more private, but given John’s understandable hesitation to “pick up the phone and call him” I can see why he took the approach.  I suspect Steve’s soon-to-be-published biography probably talks about the adoption, so it’s not like the world won’t know about Steve being adopted.  Sad circumstances surrounding the pregnancy/adoption, for sure, and I can understand why they couldn’t do anything to get Steve back after the girl’s father died.  Sad story, but of course if things worked out differently Steve may not have turned into the leader that he did.

Metalizer

...well another workaholic, for sure ? must be in the genes! wink

Lee Dronick

I see the resemblance.

I suppose that they will meet sooner rather than later.

BayouMan

Do not begrudge this man one possible last shot at meeting his biological child if either/both of them wish it. Every situation is unique, we cannot nor should not, know the situation which they find themselves in and we cannot or should not judge the outcome. If it takes a public forum to make it happen, so be it. Unless you’ve lost a parent or child, you cannot know the hurt that is felt from that loss. If i had the chance to visit for one coffee with my mother who I lost 22 years ago, I’d gladly accept it in a heartbeat.

Terrin

Calling the guy a sperm donor seems rather insensitive. Sperm donor suggest the guy didn’t want anything to do with the child. If the story is to be believed, the guy wanted to marry the mother of his child. Circumstances in the fifties were much different, especially concerning race and pregnancies out of wed lock. Further, like today, the mother has all the power. She gave the child up for adoption. That doesn’t negate a father’s interest in the child that was given up.

In addition, to label the guy seems harsh especially considering you are making assumptions. The guy was obviously interviewed, but that doesn’t mean he proactively sought out to be interviewed.

I don’t blame Jobs for not wanting to met the guy, but that doesn’t mean the biological father’s wishes deserve to be treated with any less respect then Jobs wishes.

Horseshit. Let me offer a good rule of etiquette on adoption? If you are not touched by it, just shut the f?- up with opinions about it.

My recently deceased grandmother, about 25 years ago during a pretty severe health crisis for her, stitched a pillow for my Mom (adopted) which read: ?Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone. But miraculously my own. Never forget even for a minute, you were not born under my heart, but in it.?

Regardless of what you see on Oprah, that is actually all you need to know about adoption. It is still very personal, it was never shameful for child or parents who adopted. If Steve doesn?t want to connect with a sperm donor, that?s his business, not anyone else?s. Mr. sperm donor is a first class prick for making a public issue of it.

mhikl

Ignore trolls and Apple Haters. Don’t be an audience and dance to their twist. Join the club, the majority. Choose ignore memberinstead.

daemon

I don’t know…. I hope that Steve Jobs wanted to meet is biological parents and that this article brings about their meeting, however if he never wants to see them, I can only see this article as being in poor taste.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

If i had the chance to visit for one coffee with my mother who I lost 22 years ago, I?d gladly accept it in a heartbeat.

Right. Because (from context I’m assuming that) she was your mother who raised you, not just an egg donor. My Dad was also adopted. Neither of my parents ever made any kind of deal about being adopted. My Mom’s birth mother was related to my Grandmother, and an aunt kept in touch enough with that family.

I also have a close friend who gave up her baby. The last thing she would want in her life now is to have someone pop in searching for something that was more than health related.

My point is that the desire of children and their sperm/egg donors to reunite is not universal, nor is it a more laudable goal than just valuing the kids you raise or the parents who raised you. In situations where child and birth parent have conflicting views about meeting, deference must be paid to the one who does not want to meet.

Oh, and someone get mhikl some tampons. Just grab the blue box.

Janet

Jobs is 58 and Jandali is 80. That’s old enough for the two of them to build a bridge and meet somewhere in the middle. Godspeed to them on their journey.

FlipFriddle

As a parent who recently adopted a newborn (who’s now almost two), my son won’t have to go through this since we have an open adoption and his birth parents are nearby and still very supportive of their decision. It’s too bad the social situation in the 50s prevented John from keeping his son, but I know his decision made the Jobs’ very happy.

As soon as I saw this article, I thought it was someone just seeking money or publicity and I hope that’s not the case. Giving up a child for adoption must be an incredibly difficult, but very responsible decision if you know in your heart that you can’t handle it. I know how happy having my son Paul has made us, and I thank the birth parents every day for the greatest gift my wife and I have ever or will ever receive.

Lee Dronick

Great post FlipFriddle

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Some more context on the story... Jobs actually went to a lot of effort to track down his biological sister, novelist Mona Simpson, and established and maintained a deep friendship with her, referring to her as “family”.

Ross Edwards

It ought to be pretty damned obvious to any Mac Observer (or other observer for that matter) that for 56 years, one of them hasn?t.

Not necessarily.  I was adopted at birth, 37 years ago, and have never met my birth mother, yet I know exactly who she is and where she is.  It’s not as simple as wanting to meet and I’ll see you at the Benihana on Sunday at six and that’s that.  My half-sister, whom I do know, has met with her and has a relationship, and has made it clear that my mother welcomes me to contact her at any time… but again it’s not that simple.  I do want to meet her, but what kind of disruptive effect will that have on my family?  I cannot know in advance, and that is a Pandora’s box that cannot be shut once opened.  You weren’t adopted, so you can only guess from second-hand information (that I will concede is close).

And that’s beside the point of finding out the fate of my birth father, who was serving in Vietnam at the time but whereabouts now unknown, and being in touch with my other three partial siblings.  Back in the world of the known, I have a wife and three kids.  My parents (adoptive) are still very much alive and involved in my life, and my wife’s family no less so.  There are other feelings to consider beside my own.  I had a cancer scare a little while back and came a whisker away from making the call, but couldn’t do it.  Maybe next time.  Maybe I will be so fortunate as to have another realistic chance.

Some more context on the story… Jobs actually went to a lot of effort to track down his biological sister, novelist Mona Simpson, and established and maintained a deep friendship with her, referring to her as ?family?.

As you can see above, this is a familiar story to me.  Sometimes it just works out better that way.  Don’t assume Jobs has no desire to meet/reconcile/etc with his birth father… it is possible he does not, but just as possible that he does and emotional or other considerations are still getting in the way.  It’s his business and he will do what he does when he’s ready.  John Jandali has extended an olive branch in a very public way, which I would judge as a sign of his humility and sincerity, accruing to his credit, but Jobs may not see it that way.

BurmaYank

Thank you, Ross Edwards, FlipFriddle, Brad, BayouMan, Rayu Thompson, and furbies for humanizing this story for me with your poignant personal contexts.

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