When I did my original post on Steve Jobs I did not realize that he, in addition to being an adoptee, was also the father of a child conceived, as the English might say, on the wrong side of the blanket.
And if what I am reading is right, he behaved in a not very honorable way. He denied paternity and only owned up when a DNA test indicated he was the child’s father. Her mother was his high school sweetheart. This is a scenario that many of we mothers of the adopted are familiar with in its myriad variations: the “putative father” who, for one reason or another, doesn’t step up.
But that isn’t what hit me about Steve Jobs’ situation.
What hit me is the fact that he, consciously or unconsciously, found himself in the same situation as his own parents, at exactly the same age and in somewhat the same circumstances. He, like his parents, was at the beginning of a promising career. And he was behaving in the same way he probably had reason to believe his father behaved, abandoning his child’s mother.
I was thinking about this same repeating behaviour issue while listening to the reaction show for the documentary Motherhood Interrupted on the CBC radio’s, The Current. (See TOP POSTS link on the right) On the show, they read an email from an adoptive mother who was not pleased that The Current had even done the documentary. She gave, as part of the rationale for the rightness of her adopting, the fact that her adopted children’s mothers were age 16 and 19 at the time they gave birth. And then she added, lest there was any doubt about the young woman’s unsuitability as a mother, that it was the 19 year old’s second pregnancy.
The implication being: Clearly, she was messed up or a young woman of dubious virtue. And, ergo, not worthy.
It is possible this truly was a troubled young woman but it is also possible that the loss of her first child to adoption was the source of the trouble. The baby had been born circa 1967.
A lot of us here on the Internet devote a lot of digital ink to saying losing a child to adoption at that time (or any time) does a pretty good job of rearranging your head.
Is it possible that this two time 19 year old CBOW* mother and Steve Jobs have something in common?
I think the answer to that question just might be yes. The second pregnancy may have been her way of trying to work it all out somehow. Getting someone pregnant may have been his. I didn’t say it was a good way, particularly for her in the 60’s, but it was a way.
Why does someone repeat a behavior that caused them personal grief?
Why does someone despise or condemn a behaviour and yet repeat it?
Why does a son whose father left his mother for another woman, leave his own wife for the same reason when his son is the very same age he was when his father left?
Why does an adoptee who is living the realities of adoption become pregnant and keep her child or not keep her child? Or in Jobs’ case not even acknowledge his child.
I truly believe it is because they are subconsciously trying to understand their own situation and their parent’s experience, rationale or thinking re the event that involves them.
I can’t quote a study to back myself up, but I think repetition of a questionable behavior is often an attempt to understand your own or a significant other’s actions.
Society, because it understands so little about the effect of adoption on the people that it most impacts, judges the behaviour because that’s easier. She’s a slut like her mother, he’s an irresponsible egotistical jerk.
Jobs’ first child, Lisa Brennan-Jobs is now 29. She was raised by her mother. She graduated from Harvard and probably has a few theories of her own about repetition of behaviour.
She is a writer.
Another way, in case you haven’t noticed, of trying to work things out.
*Child Born Out of Wedlock