On a Birth Mother’s Demand

When she became pregnant in 1954, Joanne had only one demand of potential adoptive parents for her unborn baby: They had to be college graduates. In Joanne’s mind, college graduates would insure that her child would also attend college, at least statistics said it made that possibility much more likely. Joanne herself had attended college. In fact, the University of Wisconsin is where she’d met her soon to be born son’s father. The father of the boy was a Syrian named Abdulfattah, himself the son of a wealthy family who’d paid for their boy to attend Wisconsin to obtain a graduate degree.

The pair fell in love, and the pregnancy resulted. However, Joanne’s conservative father refused to give his blessing to the union because of Abdulfattah’s Muslim background. So, Joanne traveled to San Francisco to have her son and to find what she considered suitable parents for him there. Soon, what seemed to be a dream couple entered Joanne’s life. The man was an attorney and the woman had agreed to forego her career and stay home to take care of the baby. But then, the couple discovered that Joanne’s baby was a boy, and they had their hearts set on a girl.

The next couple that applied for the child was in no way acceptable to Joanne. Neither prospective parent had attended college. Paul was a repossession man and Clara was a bookkeeper. Clara had had a troubled pregnancy earlier, and they were eager to adopt. They didn’t mind that Joanne’s child was a boy. But Joanne refused to sign the child over to this couple. They begged her and pleaded with her. While their jobs weren’t glamorous or high paying, the work was steady in San Francisco and would definitely provide a secure future for her son. Paul and Clara made Joanne a promise. They would send the boy to college when he was of age.

With that promise in her hand, Joanne reluctantly signed the adoption papers, and Paul and Clara gladly welcomed the boy into their home. Clara feared for some time that somehow, the boy, whom Paul and Clara named Steven Paul after his adopted father, would be taken from them because of Joanne’s hesitancy. But he was never taken from them. Instead, the couple indulged the boy as he grew, they also adopted a sister for him, whom they called Patricia.

Well, true to their word, when Steven came of age, he did indeed attend college, enrolling at Reed College in Oregon. However, the boy, while incredibly bright, didn’t fit in with the college environment and dropped out after one semester. He would move back home with Paul and Clara in 1974 and find work as a computer game technician. He and a friend from high school (a guy also named Steve but whom everyone called Woz) would tinker with the games and work on improving them.

And that’s how Steve Jobs came to create Apple.


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