So I was perusing The Wall Street Journal today and came across a story on Steve Jobs that was a very rare feature; it was not on his legacy as a tech genius, his beginnings or how his company will hold up in the wake of his death. This time around, it was about Jobs’s alleged biological father, a man by the name of Abdulfattah “John” Jandali. Jandali was born in Syria and now, at the age of 80, resides in Reno, Nev., and is the general manager of a casino called Boomtown. If you didn’t know before, the Jobs was given up for adoption, and later adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. Why? Well, Jandali was allegedly in a relationship with Jobs’s biological mother, Joanne Schieble, back while studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her father didn’t approve of their relationship, and an already pregnant and stressed out Schieble went to California for a while to “get away.” While there, she gave birth to Jobs and gave him up for adoption.
Jandali says he found out in 2005 that Jobs was his biological son, but only during this year he says, did he start reaching out to Jobs when he found out that his health was failing. He says the most he got back from Jobs was a “thanks” from birthday greetings and get well messages sent via the Internet. His e-mails seem to be the only connection–if that’s what you want to call it–he has to Jobs. In an interview with The Sun in August after Jobs resigned from his post at Apple, Jandali said the following:
“If I could live my life again I would do things entirely differently. And even more so in recent years when I have heard that my son is gravely ill. It makes me feel like time is running out and that I am totally helpless.”
Now, when I read stories like this, I definitely feel somewhat sad for the parent, but of course, I always feel worse for the child. When you really want to have a meeting or a relationship with the children you never got to know or turned your back on, why go to the tabloids first? Scenarios like this remind me of the countless other celebrities who’ve had their parent–folks who seemed to have no interest in them for years–go to the public before going to them about reconnecting. It makes the circumstances look very sketch. Are you reaching out so late because you really care? Or because you want to profit in some way from a relationship with your child in the future?
Jandali did have another child with Schieble: the author, Mona Simpson. After Jobs was given up for adoption, Schieble returned to the University of Wisconsin, and after her father passed, she married Jandali and gave birth to Simpson (who takes the surname of her stepfather). The couple would later divorce. However, Simpson remains estranged to her father, and his attempts to reach out to her, he says, have been unsuccessful. She did, however, write a book in 1993 called The Lost Father. It was a fiction novel about a woman looking for the father she had no knowledge of. Janali believes the book is based on him, and in response to it, he says the following: “She’s entitled to that. It’s the price to pay for not being there for your child when you’re a father. Even though I don’t see her, I love her dearly.” Jandali says he has no plans nor does he want to try and take any credit for his children’s success (his words: “I can’t take credit for my children’s success.”), he just wishes he could have connected with him before it was too late, even if it was just through e-mail:
“I don’t know why I emailed,” Mr. Jandali said. “I guess because I felt bad when I heard about the health situation. He had his life and I had my life, and we were not in contact. If I talked to him, I don’t know what I would have said to him.”
To read more on Jandali, head over to The Wall Street Journal.