Steve Jobs's family life a complex tangle of close relationships and deep rifts

October 6, 2011

In public, Steve Jobs was polished, steady-as-a-rock and, in his trademark blue jeans and black turtleneck, nearly always the perfect computer geek.

But his family history reveals a man who lived a life of tangled relationships, was estranged from his birth parents and who himself fathered a love child whom he at first rejected.

And although many of his broken relationships were eventually repaired, his rift with his birth parents endured to the end.

His father, Syrian-born Muslim immigrant Abdulfattah Jandali, told a British tabloid newspaper a few weeks ago that Mr. Jobs had not responded to his e-mail requests for a meeting and that his own "Syrian pride" had kept him from picking up a phone and calling.

"I live in hope that before it is too late he will reach out to me. Even to have just one coffee with him just once would make me a very happy man," Mr. Jandali, 80, told The Sun.

"My Syrian pride does not want him ever to think I am after his fortune," he said. "I am not. I have my own money. What I don't have is my son ... and that saddens me."

Mr. Jobs's broken relationship with his birth parents is just one of the personal details he shielded from the public eye. Although many of his fans know that he and his wife, Laurene Powell, were married for more than 20 years and have three children – Reed, Erin and Eve – Mr. Jobs rarely talked about his personal life and never discussed the fact that he was adopted.

If he had, he would have revealed a tale that was far from straightforward.

Mr. Jobs's biological parents were unmarried 23-year-old students at the University of Wisconsin when his mother, Joanne Schieble, became pregnant in 1954. Under pressure from her parents, who did not want her to marry an Arab, Ms. Schieble went to San Francisco to have her baby.

Paul and Clara Jobs, an Armenian couple who could not have children, adopted Steve. They adopted a daughter a few years later and then divorced.

Although Mr. Jobs did not know it at the time, his biological parents eventually married and had another child, Mona, who in adulthood became the successful novelist Mona Simpson.

Mr. Jobs was also estranged from a daughter he fathered with a high-school girlfriend, Chris-Ann Brennan, in 1978. He denied he was the child's father for two years and at one point swore in court that he was infertile. According to one report, Ms. Brennan collected welfare for a time to support the child.

As his wealth and fame grew, according to unauthorized biographies, Mr. Jobs dated various actresses and even considered marrying the singer Joan Baez. According to one account, he decided not to because she was several years older than him and was likely unable to have children.

Some of Mr. Jobs's family relationships were eventually repaired. He and his biological sister met as adults and Mr. Jobs later described Ms. Simpson as "one of my best friends in the world."

He eventually acknowledged that Lisa Brennan was his daughter and invited her to live with him. And on the rare occasions that he talked about his adoptive parents, he revealed a special admiration for them. He described his father as "a genius with his hands" and said that what he wanted for his own children was "to try to be as good a father to them as my father was to me."

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