Steve Jobs was arguably the most well-connected man (both literally and figuratively) of the 20th century, so it might be surprising to learn that the former Apple CEO had difficult, or nonexistent relationships with much of his family. Not only did he deny paternity of his daughter, Lisa, and have a tumultuous relationship with her mother, Chrisann, but Jobs' biological parents were not a part of his life, by his choice. Jobs once revealed that he chose not to connect with his biological father, Abdulfattah Jandal, after they accidentally met at a restaurant.
“I learned a little bit about him and I didn’t like what I learned,” Jobs told Walter Isaacson, the author of the biography Steve Jobs. Given that every detail of the entrepreneur's life has been the topic of public discussion, it's notable that not much is known about Jobs' biological parents. Yet the new biopic Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender sheds a (brief) light on the subject by including both the restaurant scene and several lines from Jobs discussing his family. The information that's presented makes for a sad, if not unfamiliar, story.
Jobs' biological parents, Syrian-born Abdulfattah "John" Jandali and Joanne Carol Schieble, met at the University of Wisconsin. Jandali was pursuing his PhD, Schieble was an undergrad, and the two soon fell in love. Schieble became pregnant, but her strict Christian family wouldn't allow her to marry the Muslim Jandali. She moved to California and gave up the baby for adoption, and he was taken in by Paul and Clara Jobs. Steve was born in 1955 in San Francisco, and grew to have strong relationships with both of his adoptive parents. Yet he was still curious about his biological parents, and decades later, he located Schieble with the help of a detective. He also met his biological sister Mona and formed a relationship with her, and, of course, had the restaurant run-in with his father, as the movie depicts.
Jobs told Isaacson in Steve Jobs that he can't imagine having parents other than his adoptive ones, so clearly, the move was for the best. The Apple CEO was just one of many other influential people who were adopted and later had happy, healthy families of their own. Here are just a few.
Country singer Faith Hill was born in Jackson, Mississipi and adopted as an infant by a couple in the same area. She is now married to star Tim McGraw and they have three daughters.
Lionel and Brenda Richie adopted Nicole when she was three. The little girl's biological parents were unable to provide for her financially and felt she would have a better life with the musician and his wife. Nicole Richie now has her own family— a son and a daughter— with Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden.
The Oscar-winning actress was adopted by a Canadian couple as an infant. She later married Joel Coen and the couple adopted a child of their own, Pedro, from Paraguay in 1995. The family now lives in New York City.
Although Steve Jobs was undoubtedly affected by his lack of a relationship with his birth parents, he nevertheless achieved some truly amazing accomplishments in his lifetime. Jobs may be gone but his legacy lives on through every Apple product as well as through Steve Jobs the movie, in theaters now.