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As some of you may or may not know, Apple giant Steve Jobs was an adoptee. If you’re a member of the adoption triad, then you know the feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood that it entails. The world lost one of the most important visionaries of our time, a magnificent contributor, and Steve’s family lost a husband and a father and a son.

This post is a tribute to Steve Jobs – fellow adoptee.

Steve’s estranged birth father John, who had given him up for adoption, had been hoping that Steve would call him. John did email Steve, but the emails went unanswered. Pride kept him from calling Steve because, understandably, he feared that Steve would think he was after his fortune. Sadly, pride kept them apart, and now it’s too late.

Steve was born February 24, 1955 to two graduate students, John and Joanne who gave him up for adoption. It’s been said that John did not want to give Steve up for adoption, but Joanne’s family would not approve of their marriage, and they weren’t financially stable. They married in December of 1955 and 2 years later they had another child – Mona Simpson (novelist). I do wonder what changed for them that enabled them to get married 10 months after Steve’s birth.

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A snippet from the Wikipedia page on Mona Simpson (Steve’s full biological sister):

She is the biological sister of the late Steve Jobs, co-founder, former CEO and chairman of Apple. Jobs, the eldest sibling, was placed for adoption by their then-unmarried parents (who married 10 months later). Her 1987 novel, Anywhere But Here, is dedicated to her mother and “my brother Steve.” She first met Jobs when they were adults, after she invited him to a party promoting Anywhere But Here where she revealed that they were siblings; Jobs was 32. The two of them forged a relationship where he regularly visited her in Manhattan. Simpson said “My brother and I are very close, I admire him enormously.”

Jobs said “We’re family. She’s one of my best friends in the world. I call her and talk to her every couple of days.” The interactions between Simpson and Jobs, and learning how similar they were, had a major effect on Jobs. Steve Lohr of the New York Times wrote “The effect of all this on Jobs seems to be a certain sense of calming fatalism — less urgency to control his immediate environment and a greater trust that life’s outcomes are, to a certain degree, wired in the genes.” A few years earlier, Jobs was staunch on most of his character having been formed from his experiences, not his birth parents or genetics (Jobs frequently referred to his adoptive parents as “the only real parents” that he ever had). From Simpson, Jobs would learn more details about their parents, and he invited his birth mother Joanne Simpson to a few events.

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Steve was obviously very loyal to his adoptive parents, Clara and Paul Jobs.

Quotes from Steve’s birth father:
“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”.
“I really am not his dad, he said – 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.”

How very sad.

We need to take something from this. If you’re questioning yourself, or your dreams, or if you should seek out a parent, sibling or relative – do it.

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

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We came back from Michigan, and now we would discover what our “settling in” period would be like. There is a “honeymoon” phase that you read about with adoption reunions, and I think Jeanne’s trip to Scranton and our trip to Michigan were a part of that phase. There’s so much excitement in the beginning, and uncertainty, and emotions – it’s all sort of a whirlwind.

We lived far away, and this was before the internet really took off. So, we talked on the phone. We exchanged gifts for holidays, birthdays, etc.

I came back from Michigan armed with (finally) what my family medical history was. I wanted to become pregnant, and I knew now that I (and my then-husband) would have to get genetic testing. I won’t say why – maybe I will in future postings, (I’d have to find out if it is okay) – but not now.

Luckily, everything turned out okay, and I was able to go ahead and try to become pregnant. It was a long road – so it seemed at the time, and after 10 months of trying, I was thrilled to find out I was finally pregnant.

I don’t recall a lot of phone conversations with Jeanne at this time. I was, of course wrapped up in my life, and being pregnant.

I think it was then that I noticed that Jeanne was a little – “off”? For lack of a better word. She seemed very self-absorbed in this phase of our relationship, and that seemingly self-absorption would only increase as time went on. Things were very superficial, and I didn’t understand why. I was learning a bit more of her own family dynamics, and I remember at the time, being grateful for being in the family that I was in.

My birth mother didn’t seem “connected” – with me, or my pregnancy. This seemed surprising to me. And, as time went on and my delivery date drew near, this surprise would only deepen.

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It was time to meet Charlie – my birth father.  I had no clue what to expect.

We were to meet at a restaurant – my (then) husband, myself, Charlie and his wife. 

It was – awkward. 

I didn’t really know what to expect, so I expected nothing.  My birth mother, I could sympathize with – my birth father – well, was just that.  Someone who I shared genes with.  I knew nothing of him, except that he was tall.  And that he had disappointed Jeanne. 

I couldn’t exactly fault him for that.  Unexpected pregnancies happen.  It’s the women (or teenager) left to deal with the consequences.  Which Jean did to the best of her ability.  They were both young.  Stuff happens.

He was nice, and he was pleasant – he seemed to feel awkward as well (as I believe the picture shows!)  We made small-talk.  I apparently had a half-sister and a half-brother who knew nothing about me.  Charlie wanted to keep it that way.  He told me about them – where they were at in their lives, and that was about it. 

He also shared medical information with me – and that was important.  I realized that I would need to get genetic testing done if I wanted to have a baby myself one day (which I did).  What he told me that day stayed with me, and played in the back of my mind for years.

So, we spent about an hour together.  We took a few uncomfortable looking pictures, and we said our goodbyes.

I wouldn’t speak to Charlie again for 18 years.

Charlie & Me - Hmm - Awkward?!

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Jeanne had avoided going back to St. Joseph’s. She gave birth to me at a hospital in Scranton. After a few days, she and her mother and I went back to their apartment in Clarks Summit. It was still her hope that somehow, she’d be able to keep me.

She had me baptized at a beautiful church in Clarks Summit – “Our Lady of Snows”. The gown I was christened in is the gown she would keep for 31 years. The gown she gave me when we met. It was the gown I had my beautiful daughter, Nicole christened in.

She had named me too – Veronica! (I will say, I’m happy my name didn’t stay Veronica! lol)

Jeanne kept me for two weeks – all the while hoping that she’d somehow be saved. Hoping that my birth father would come through. She knew her time was up and decisions would have to be made.

One day, Jeanne was holding me and was going downstairs. I guess an argument with her mother ensued, and her mother pushed her on the steps while she was holding me. I can’t imagine what she must have been going through all these months, feeling trapped, hoping she wasn’t in this alone.

But she realized she was. She was a 19 year old girl, with a baby and no support system. Her mother apparently wasn’t the answer. My birth father wasn’t going to come through.

With that push on the stairs, Jeanne knew it was over.

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Jeanne was left with no alternative but to tell her mother. I don’t know much about that conversation, but I do know Jeanne was “sent away”. From Michigan to St. Joseph’s in Scranton, PA. The “home for unwed mothers”.

We drove to St. Joseph’s together and sat and talked. It looks so institutional there.

She described a desolate place filled with unhappy girls and strict nuns. You could go out for a walk – if you were “good”. Being good meant that you sucked it up and didn’t CRY or show emotion. Very Christian place. So, you’d cry at night after the lights went out, and hoped that you weren’t caught “being bad”.

Jeanne begged her mother to get out of there. She couldn’t come home, but her mother agreed to come to Scranton. They got an apartment together in Clarks Summit. This is where she waited out the rest of her pregnancy.

In the meantime, she held out hope that my birth father would somehow come to her rescue – you know – “do the right thing”. I believe his parents were supportive of her, and I imagine, but am not sure, that they would have encouraged him to step up. She told me they were extremely nice people. So, she held her breath, and waited.

I was born on September 15th.

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