Steve Jobs: Two Mothers, One Revolutionary Child

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No matter how much we may have anticipated this news, Apple founder Steve Jobs‘ death is a tragedy and a shock. Few men have had such an effect on the world as he did. We all admire his blending of design and function, his tenacity and focus on perfection, and his leadership of many companies. <a href="He died from pancreatic cancer, a particularly horrible form of the disease, at too young an age. But what he accomplished in that life is tremendous.

It’s worth considering, too, his two mothers. In 1954, Joanne Schieble was an unmarried college student who discovered she was pregnant. Abortions were available, but dangerous and illegal. Marriage wasn’t desirable at the time (although she later did marry the man who impregnated her). She opted, instead, to give birth to her baby and place him for adoption.

In 1955, Clara Jobs and her husband Paul adopted that baby and named him Steven.

Many of us were placed for adoption by our biological mothers and parents. Many of us were adopted by the parents who raised us. And many of us have adopted children. And it’s just very cool that Steve Jobs is among these ranks.

I was reading a biography of Steve Jobs that said that Schieble was somewhat disappointed that the Jobs weren’t college-educated. In fact, Paul had dropped out of high school. She made them promise they would send him to college. As is well-known, Jobs dropped out of school in his first year because the cost was killing his parents. And yet he went on to become transformatively successful in any case. There’s something so touching about his biological mother caring about her son’s future success, the adoptive parents keeping their solemn promise to her, and the son both thwarting those plans and overcoming expectations. There may be some eternal truths there about the challenge and promise of parenting …

In any case, as we marvel at the work that Jobs accomplished in his too-brief life, and think of his mourning wife and children, let’s not forget the work of his mothers. That goes both for Joanne Schieble who had the courage to place her baby for adoption as well as Clara Jobs who raised that child with her husband Paul.