Adoption and Abandonment

My son Ari ran the Chicago Marathon last Sunday and finished. My wife Risa, son Noah, and I were there along with his wife Elissa to cheer him on. As we were driving into the city to see him, my mind turned to Steve Jobs’ biological father, who abandoned his pregnant wife who then put the baby (Jobs) up for adoption.

Jobs’ biological father, a Syrian immigrant named Abdulfattlah “John” Jandali, ironically moved to San Francisco, the same city where Steve had been adopted by a high school dropout who became a machinist, and his wife Clara. Jandali eventually moved to Reno where he started a restaurant and worked at the Boomtown Casino, which he now manages.

John Jandali never met Steve Jobs or his other offspring, an acclaimed novelist named Mona Simpson.

Driving in for the Marathon I felt exhilaration and pride in Ari, as well as the fear of a father who knows that it is likely that at least one person running the Marathon will die before finishing. (This did happen. A 35-year-old firefighter from North Carolina collapsed and died 500 yards from the finish line).

It is hard for me to imagine what it feels like to give a child up for adoption. The huge number of unwed mothers in a world where prevention of pregnancy is relatively easy continues to baffle me, too. As somebody who has always treasured family, the story of abandonment of offspring, whether it is of the great and famous like Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs, or the crack babies in the ghetto, touches me deeply.

Jobs and Jandali never met one another. Sad.

Question: If you were adopted would you want to meet your biological parents?

John Jandali (left) and Steve Jobs (right)

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10 thoughts on “Adoption and Abandonment

  1. Dave Bradley

    I have 17 foster brothers and sisters running around in this world. I haven’t seen almost all of them for 50 years.

  2. Dave Bradley

    Start this again!! The foster kids at our house were products of un-wed mothers that were sent away,often out of state, to have their babies. That was how things were done in the 50’s and 60’s. They would stay form 6 months to 2 years with us until suitable adoptive parents were found. The last one just stayed and mom and dad adopted her. By the time she was of “legal” age, she wanted to find her blood parents. Her fater didn’t want anything to do with her and didn’t want his family to know she existed. Her mother was a psychotic mess and ended up being somebody you would not want to know. All said and done, the mom and dad that raised her was the only mom and dad she needed. I think she wished that she had not bothered to look for the blood parents other than for medical info.

  3. Nikki Lebo

    I am adopted and I did search for birth family and have been reunited with them since 2000. All those touched by adoption can tell you that it is a complex issue, mixed with different layers of emotion. Not all adopted persons want to find but the overwhelming majority at one time or another, wonder about their biological roots. It is perfectly natural for adopted persons as well as biological family members who have been separated by adoption to seek out one another and at the very least, learn about what became of them. I agree it is sad to me to know that Steve and his birth father never met. They did however, know about each other and most importantly, Steve was able to gather his family medical history because he had searched for them in his twenties. This information will be beneficial to Steve’s children and their children. So many adopted persons today are searching for biological family members and searching for important medical history. I am on the board of directors for the American Adoption Congress. It is a non-profit group who is dedicated to adoption reform and educating others on the realities of adopted life for all family members, adoptive and biological. You can learn more at

  4. Skip Westmaas

    I too am confounded by the high rate of pregnancies to unwed mothers, but even more confounding is the number in general of unwanted pregnancies. Approximately 205 million pregnancies occur each year worldwide. Over a third are unintended and about a fifth end in induced abortion. Some of those “unintendeds” born are given up for adoption and some kept, but still unwanted. I recently was introduced to the term throwaways (as apposed to runaways). Throwaway children aren’t wanted by their parents and don’t show up in runaway statistics as the parents don’t report them missing presumably because they don’t want them back. Whatever side of the isle you are on on the abortion debate, the state of this situation is unfathomable to me in the 21st century. Way too many unintended pregnancies due to a multitude of reasons, In some ways our society is very advanced and others, we are extremely primitive and uncaring (as a society).
    And “yes” to answer your question, if I was adopted I would want to meet my parents, even if was just out of curiosity.

    Skip Westmaas

  5. Dave Wilcox

    I was placed in foster care at the age of twelve and had three brothers who were adopted. One a have contact with, another was last known to be in the USAF, but I have be unable to locate him. The third and youngest (was 3 years old when adopted) lives nearby. I do not know if he is aware that he was adopted. I just do not feel that I can approach him and say “Hi you don’t know me but I am your brother.” If he knows his was adopted and was the seek out his birth family then that is his choice. But if the adopted family has chosen not the reveal the adoption, then I feel I should not be the person to tell him.

  6. Dick Crosby

    Lloyd: Thanks again! For the story and the subject.
    My wife, Georgia, and I, have (7) kids. They now range in age from 37 to 52. That makes me an old f–t. Since they arrived via different means, I tell people I bought (2), bred (2), and borrowed (3). They have all been told their respective stories.
    The ‘bought’ ones came from our church adoption facility in Chicago. (The Lutheran Home Finding Society.) This was a lot of years ago, and, at that time, the records were “permanently” locked up in the vaults down in Springfield. The ‘bred’ ones have grown up with few questions about their histories, especially medical. The same is true about the “borrowed” ones, obtained via the marriage to my current wife of (27+) years.
    Not the case for the adopted ones.
    A few years ago I was watching the local news, and there were some accolades being given to a neat lady with the Salvation Army, who had done some great work in finding and reuniting adopted kids with their birth parents. Either one or both. So, I called her up.
    Well! Since we (Neither I nor Andrea; the youngest of the two.), were members of the Salvation Army, she couldn’t help us. However! She knew a guy in Chicago who probably could and would help. I got his name and number, and turned them over to Andrea, who had been searching for her mother for at least seven years. Andrea and her military husband, could not, for the most part, afford what their former, many, search organizations
    wanted to charge for their service.
    The man was told our story, and he told her he could, and probably would, have an answer for her in a few weeks. I think he charged her/them a couple of hundred bucks. (After it was all over.) In any event it wasn’t a lot.
    Sure enough! He located Andrea’s mom down in No. Carolina, within two months, and learned she had been looking for her long lost daughter for at least seven years.
    Through carefully thought out letter writing, telephoning, and ultimate personal meetings between the two, Andrea and Ardith now knew each other, and Andrea now knows the story of her conception and the rest of their story. Knowledge about her birth father was “out-of-the-question.” It was not to be gained through Ardith. Andrea has not pursued it, so she still has only half the medical knowledge she’d like.
    They got together a few times at each others homes, and Ardith has now passed away. I believe from cancer. Andrea has had a bout with breast cancer, but it’s under control.
    As for my oldest son, Mike, I’ve been after him for years to seek out his birth mother. He’s said he was always going to do it, considering Andrea’s good fortune. But I think he’s always been afraid of being rejected. Again! His birth mother “Gave him away.” And, his adoptive mother gave him to me, without hesitation, when he was 12, along with our birth son, at the time she divorced me back in the early 70’s. Who wants to be a three time “loser” in a situation as emotional as this is and has been. Anyway, he’s seriously thinking about pursuing the matter, now, before it’s too late. And, it may already be too late.
    I’ve told him I’ll help him anyway I can But! Stop procrastinating!
    The laws and attitudes have changed drastically since 1959 and 1966.

  7. Nikki Lebo

    Wow, it’s great to ready everyone’s stories. Yes, unfortunately there are reunion stories that do not end well and that is the risk one takes when searching. But more times than not, people do not regret searching and finding, even if they have bad reunion experience and learn painful information. Most feel that knowing the truth is better then knowing nothing at all or fiction which is sometimes the case. It pains me to hear about siblings being separated through the foster care system or via out right adoption. In a perfect world, which we do not live in, families could stay in tact. @ Dave, you are in an awkward position to know that another person is adopted while they are unaware of this truth. No one can tell you the right answer as to whether it is your place to tell him this truth. Ideally, his parents should have told him. One should never go through life not knowing this information. I have met quite a few LDA (late discovery adoptees) and believe me, they are not happy at all to find out that this information had been kept from them. But having said that, I do not think it would be wrong of you to reveal this to him. IMHO. I wish you could find out if he did know before hand. You may be surprised to find out that he does know and is searching for family. @ Dick, thank you for sharing your story. It is so great that you are supportive of your children’s search and that you helped Andrea and are willing to help your son. Men seem to hesitate when it comes to searching for the reason you pointed out. The fear of rejection. Fear prevents us from doing lot of things. I too have lost my birth mother, as she passed away 7 years after we were reunited so I feel lucky to have known her for that time. Anyway, you may want to encourage your son to go to the AAC website I mentioned in my earlier post as they have great resources and a good reading list and he could contact a representative in his area just for support. And thank you Lloyd for writing this article.

  8. Emily Aniakou

    My husband and I became foster parents a year ago and have had a teenage boy living with us for 9 months now. I live in Lake county Indiana, which has a huge need for foster parents. Unfortunately Govenors Daniels, in his fiscal wisdom, has lowered the already inadequate stipends given to foster parents to care for their children by 30% or so while increasing the qualifications to keep licensure. In the name of a balanced budget it’s these kids who suffer. Being a foster parent is already the hardest job I’ve ever done, and to be “thanked” in this way just feels so disrespectful and degrading.

  9. Dave

    You’re wrong about John Jandali never meeting his other “offspring”. He and his wife raised her til they divorced and then her mom remarried and she took her stepfathers name. Clearly not father-of-the-year material but not the devil that Saint Steven painted him to be. He sent his medical records upon hearing of the illiness but neither of them went any further. Its easy to judge when its not your decision or circumstance.

  10. Chuck Fluharty

    Very interesting that Steve Jobs was raised by his step-father machinist. Manufacturing must not have impacted him much when he allowed the I-Phone to be manufactured by Foxconn in PLA China. FoxConn is reported to have 300,000 workers making the phone which uses the 30 taper Fanuc Robodrill and Brother 30 taper drill and tap machines to machine the stainless steel frame. Based on Fanuc and Brother supplier information, Foxconn has installed over 3,500 machines since 2007. Our country would be further ahead in manufacturing today if those machines and machinists were here in the USA working. Best regards, Chuck


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