Thursday, 13 October 2011

What does Steve Jobs' death mean to adoption?

Last Thursday satirical news website The Onion ran the story Last Man in the US Who Knew What the F**k He Was Doing Has Died. Like all good satire, it was brilliant because it was true. Jobs was an inspiration to many, but maybe particularly to adopted people due to own his difficult start in life and subsequent adoption. He is the proof that out of adversity can come greatness, given the right love and support.

It is a little publicised fact that Steve Jobs was in fact half Iranian. The story goes that his birth parents were young and his birth mother's father strongly opposed mixed race relationships. So he was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.

Steve Jobs clearly enjoyed a close relationship with his adoptive parents. It was his father who taught him rudimentary electronics, and how to work with his hands. However a natural aptitude with technology meant he quickly overtook him. Many adopted people ponder the nature/nurture debate at length. We can only speculate whether this was something Jobs thought about.

Less than a year after he was born, his birth mother's father died and she finally married Jobs' birth father. Two years later, Jobs' biological sister was born. It was clear that he thought about his origins as in 1984 he tracked his sister down, although he kept their reunion a secret until 1986. Throughout the rest of his life they enjoyed a close relationship, with Jobs visiting her regularly in Manhattan. Through his sister he was reunited with his birth mother. However she had since divorced Jobs' birth father, and it seems the relationship remained strained as they were never reunited.

As someone who was ill for so long there is little doubt that this issue of medical history would have come up for Jobs. However, like many adopted people, he would have had little information to draw upon. The British Association for Adoption & Fostering has campaigned for years for not just adopted people, but care experienced adults and donor conceived children to be given access to information about their birth families. In particular we believe it is important to have access to information about medical histories. Although we do not know whether it would have made a difference in the case of Steve Jobs, it certainly highlights the importance.

For more info and advice visit the main BAAF website, or our Adoption Search & Reunion site.

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