Hey hey! It’s Friday! Can I get a whoop whoop?!
I’m glad that you’re back to read the next installment in our series. If this is the first time you’re joining us – WELCOME, it’s good to have you. Here are the other features in case you want to catch up.
Here’s a little bit of background as to why I want to do this series and why I want YOU to read it and share it with your friends. I am one half of a mixed race marriage (if you want to read my story, check it out here) and we have had our fair share of adjusting to this new life that is often not accepted by everyone.
Besides the odd intentional racist, I feel like a lot of the hurtful comments floating around are actually just brought about through ignorance about how their words will affect other people. Thinking only of our own personal situations with little regard for others, because that’s all that we know. So in an effort to broaden what we know, I thought I would interview a wide range of South Africans that have a variety of different situations – from mixed race couples to single race couples that adopt cross racially to couples that share the same “race” but differ vastly in terms of culture. A bit of a mumble jumble of everything really.
So let’s get started!
If you would like to join in and be featured in this series or know of someone that would, please feel free to get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want this to be a safe space where we can share stories and encourage each other to be more accepting of our fellow South Africans of all races, cultures and situations. So while I want to encourage you to comment and open a discussion, I will not tolerate any abusive or troll like comments here.
Today we’re mixing it up a little and interviewing the man in the relationship! Thanks to Terence who took the time out to answer this after just having a gorgeous little baby AND wrangling a toddler – you guys make parenting look easy!
Terence and Julie have a slightly different story – as you will see…
- Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do, what you like to spend your time on etc
I’m a Digital Content Producer for a local radio station – so I spend a lot of my time playing around on social media!
The few moments of free time I get is usually spent working on my Youtube channel and Facebook page, reading and, if my knees allow, play hockey.
- Tell us a little bit about your partner – what they do, what they like to spend time on etc
Julie, my wife, is pretty much the most wonderful person ever – she’ll probably hate the fact that I’ve said that though! She works on a project that focuses on helping parents with their children’s first 1000 days of development.
- How did you meet?
At our church’s youth group – she was the band newest singer, and I was the grumpy sound guy at the back. She asked me for a mic, I sarcastically told her that new singers don’t get mics (as a joke) and we immediately disliked each other!
Eventually we got to know each other better, though. I’m tough to resist when I put on the charm.
- Give us a bit of insight into your racial/cultural backgrounds.
Julie is white – her dad is South African and her mom is English. I’m coloured – although most people say I’m not a “real” coloured. I’m still trying to figure out what they mean by that. Maybe I need to lose my front teeth to make the club, or something?
- So your situation is just amazing. Before deciding to become parents yourselves, you saw the need to help children in need by becoming “safety parents” for children awaiting adoption. How did you get into this and how did you handle having to give that child “away” to their new family?
We were still dating the first time Julie broached the subject of temporary safety care – she wanted to care for a baby during the last month of her varsity vacation, and she wanted me to help! That was a scary idea, but it wasn’t something I could say no to!
After we were married for a year, we decided that we had capacity to do it again. I’m not going to lie. When that child came and left our home it created quite a bit of emotions – but knowing that we had been a positive part of her life story made it worth it!
- Tell us about deciding to adopt Liam. Did you have any concerns about adopting a baby from a different race?
Not really – we’ve had a bit of experience with inter-racial relations (being a mix-race couple), so we knew that we were surrounded by friends and family who would see Liam for what he is: our son.
That being said, we did take some to think about what his life might be like further down the line. We realised that he was going to experience some issues with culture and identity, and that our job was to acknowledge them and help him work them out. So there were many conversions about how we would create a space for him to experience as many cultures as possible – and then allow him to identify with whatever he wants to.
- Shortly after officially becoming Liams parents, Julie discovered that she was pregnant. How did you feel about having another baby so soon after adopting your first?
My brain went through these phases:
- Laughing at the irony of the timing
- Expectiveness? Is that a word?
And then it kind of cycled through those for Julie’s entire pregnancy.
- Did you have any concerns about having a mixed race baby? Are they any different since you have welcome Eli into the World?
The only concern I had was that Eli was already coming into a family that was different from the norm (whatever that is), and that he is going to have to figure out how to be proud of all the things that make us different. I was also concerned about how people might treat him differently from his big brother because he was going to be so much lighter (in skin tone, but also weight).
Again, we are blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who are an incredibly loving and accepting bunch of people. It might be because we’re all pretty strange.
- What kind of experiences have you had when you have been out with your kids (alone with them or together as a family)? (Do you regularly get accosted with ignorant people throwing around silly statements)
We’ve had people who have asked quite personal questions about Liam – where is his “real” mom etc. We’ve also had people comment about how amazing Julie and I are, as if Liam was an abandoned puppy who we rescued. That drives me crazy, because you wouldn’t say that to any other parent. We’re the lucky and blessed ones to have Liam as a son!
Also, people like to stare a lot. But we’re used to that because of the hair, so we’ve learnt to just stare right back. Right into their eyes. (Editor note – I had a good long laugh at that! Thanks T)
- How do you and your partner view race in your relationship? What kind of role does it play in your family? Does it even feature?
We’ve found that the small differences that race creates between us makes for interesting conversation! Julie is incredibly sensitive and knowledgeable around issues of race and privilege, so we are able to talk about the differences in our childhood.
- Are there big differences in your marriage relationship that are affected by your heritage/culture?
Yep. Julie has no concept of how public transport works.
- How have your families reacted to your relationship?
In the incredibly unlikely event that Julie and I divorced, my family would want to win her in the settlement. That’s how much they love her. Frankly, I’m not surprised.
(and that I was able to set up their surround sound)
- Do you have any advice for those new to this experience?
Don’t be afraid to talk about your differences! You can actually have quite a lot of fun trying out your partner’s culture (especially, as I’ve mentioned before, their culture’s food!)
Like what you’ve read here? That’s flipping awesome – feel free to share it with your friends. Also come hang out with me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram where you can expect to find a whole lot more of this, just shorter.
Also I’m sure Terence and Julies beautiful photos have inspired you to have a shoot of your own done? Well the good news is that the Nestling girls are here in October and you WANT to book a shoot with them. Seriously beautiful photos! For more info connect with them here (click on the picture or HERE):