The Home Front

How Adoption (and Steve Jobs) Changed Our World

This week, we’re in Gatlinburg, Tenn., for fall break with the kids. (Dollywood is great in October, by the way. No lines!) We’ve hiked six miles, seen eight bears, eaten ice cream every day, and are preparing to go to the NASCAR Speedpark tomorrow. However, all of the fun was temporarily halted when we found out about the death of Steve Jobs. My husband was a big fan. In fact, here’s how he describes himself:

I have to come clean. I’m one of “those people.” You know the kind . . . the person who talks endlessly about their Mac, who eagerly scans the internet for rumors of the latest offering, and who bought the iPad simply because “Apple made it, so I must need it.” I was an Apple evangelist before we were all Apple evangelists, and — at some point during those years — I may have even crossed the line from “enthusiastic” to “annoying.” I’m getting the iPhone 4S the day it comes out, even though it’s only an incremental advance, and I agonize endlessly over whether my magnificent new Macbook Air has become — for all practical purposes — an “iPad killer.”

When we got back to our cabin, he wrote a nice note about the legacy of the famous Apple creator. However, as I was reading about his death, I was reminded that he was adopted. In 1955, a Syrian-born Muslim immigrant named Abdulfattah John Jandali fathered a baby boy with his German-American girlfriend, Joanne Carole Schieble. They weren’t married, so they gave the baby up for adoption to Paul and Clara Jobs, a couple who hadn’t been able to conceive. And, by all accounts, he was raised well:

Clara worked as an accountant and Paul was a Coast Guard veteran and machinist. The family lived in Mountain View within California’s Silicon Valley. As a boy, Jobs and his father would work on electronics in the family garage. Paul would show his son how to take apart and reconstruct electronics, a hobby which instilled confidence, tenacity, and mechanical prowess in young Jobs.

While Jobs has always been an intelligent and innovative thinker, his youth was riddled with frustrations over formal schooling. In elementary school he was a prankster whose fourth grade teacher needed to bribe him to study. Jobs tested so well, however, that administrators wanted to skip him ahead to high school—a proposal his parents declined.

As the mother of an adopted child — we got a toddler from Africa over a year ago — it’s always very touching to see adopted children grow up and do such amazing things. Adoption changed the course of Steve Jobs’ life, and — consequently — the course of our nation and our world.