In his commencement address to Stanford University’s graduating class of 2005, Steve Jobs said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Joanne Simpson, Jobs’ birthmother, can now connect the dots and see that her decision to place her baby boy in an adoptive home helped form him into one of most innovative and charismatic men in the business world. But as a pregnant unmarried graduate student in the 1950’s, she simply had to trust that she was making the best choices available to her for her child’s future.
Jobs’ adoption was not perfectly smooth or easy. As an educated woman, Simpson felt very strongly that her son should be adopted by college graduates. She arranged for a lawyer and his wife to adopt her baby, but they really wanted a girl. When Simpson gave birth to a son, the parents she had chosen for him backed out. Paul and Clara Jobs, who were on a waiting list, received a call that night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They answered: “Of course!”
Unfortunately for Joanne Simpson, this lower middle class couple did not fulfill her vision of the parents she wanted to raise her baby. Clara, an accountant, had never graduated from college, and Paul, a machinist, had never even graduated from high school. Simpson refused to sign the final adoption papers for several months, only relenting when they promised her that they would someday send little Steven Paul Jobs to college. Just like his birthmother, they wanted the very best for their son.
In an interview for New York Times Magazine, Steve Jobs remembers Paul as a “genius with his hands.” In addition to working as a machinist for a laser company, Paul bought cheap junkyard cars, fixed them up and sold them to students for a profit. “That was my college fund,” Jobs says. Asked what he wants to pass on to his children, Jobs answered: “Just to try to be as good a father to them as my father was to me. I think about that every day of my life.”
Since his resignation as the CEO of Apple, Inc. on August 24, 2011, Jobs has been described by many as a visionary, an innovator, a creative force, and even “the world’s magic man.” Among his many achievements, Jobs created the first truly personal computer, pioneered the ipod, iphone, ipad, etc., and helped establish Pixar. This great man began his journey to greatness by starting up a computer company in his parents’ garage. And he got to that garage because his birthmother made the difficult decision to place her son in the home of Paul and Clara Jobs. The rest of the “dots” in Jobs’ life connect back to that point.