A family to call mine: One young man’s search for a love that was never his

Looking for love at the right places.

PUCHONG – “I always knew I was different from the rest,” said Rain Lee as his voice begins to quiver. “From my spoken language to my diet, all the way to my bisexuality, people often saw me as an oddball.”

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It was this cloud of doubt that had been on this young man’s mind ever since the quiet whisperings into his ear that he did not resemble any of his parents. The look of disdain from other family members. Or the pain of isolation he had to bear while sitting at the dining table during family gatherings.

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In this exclusive interview, WeirdKaya spoke to Rain about how it was like growing up in a household that you could never be a part of, the emotional burden of carrying a secret of your past, and his ongoing journey in finding a family he can call his own.

A family to call mine: one young man's search for a love that was never his
Provided by Rain Lee for WeirdKaya

Same but different

Growing up during the innocent years of childhood, Rain constantly had this nagging feeling that he was unlike the rest. “I attended a Chinese vernacular school, where the main lingua franca was Mandarin or Chinese dialects. But my first language was English, which I used to converse with my parents. Because of this, my classmates saw me as a ‘weirdo’.

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“I thought these problems would end when my parents transferred me to a private English educational institution as they saw it as a better alternative to public education and a means to stopping the general perception of me as ‘the different kid’. But it never happened,” he says.

A family to call mine: one young man's search for a love that was never his
Provided by Rain Lee for WeirdKaya

And this dichotomy wasn’t limited to language alone. It applied to his love for songs from a different era, reading habits, and hobbies. “No 10-year-old kid would listen to songs from the 1920s and 30s, but that’s what I loved listening to. I’ve never read a single Harry Potter book (until this year) or watched Doraemon.

“Even when I was in my early years of secondary school, I had zero interest in major mainstream media, pop music, or movies.”

Having endured a fair amount of bullying and exclusion from his peers due to these differences, Rain admits it has taken a toll on his self-esteem. “If I could turn back time, there would be a lot of things I want to change to become more confident as a person and be more interested in things around me.”

A family to call mine: one young man's search for a love that was never his
Provided by Rain Lee for WeirdKaya

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Warning bells

On one fateful Sports Day, Rain began to hear questions about his father, planting seeds of doubt in his heart concerning the man who raised him.

“When I was about eight years old, my dad came to school, and some started asking me who he was as they saw little to no resemblance between us. That was the first time when I heard people pointing out that we don’t look alike,” he recounted.

“Being a kid back then, I didn’t put much thought to it and merely brushed it off.”

But as the years went by, Rain’s suspicions grew stronger each day and starting noticing out-of-the-norm behaviour from his parents.

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“My mum would often become exceedingly afraid whenever she was asked to sign official forms and would resort to sending my dad out instead. She thought she was doing me a favour, but in reality, it made things worse as people could immediately realise the non-resemblance between me and my dad in a heartbeat.”

Love at an arm’s length

Just when things couldn’t get any more complicated for Rain, he also had to grapple with the circumstances surrounding his parents’ decision in bringing him into their home.

“My mother often talked about how she never wanted to be pregnant or have kids, whereas my dad was pining for children to the point where the marriage was on the verge of falling apart.

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“To save the relationship, my mother relented in adopting me and eventually grew to love me, but it was always at an arm’s length, even till today.”

On the other hand, Rain’s father took a more proactive approach in raising him. “My dad took care of me the entire time and insists on doing so even though I’m now old enough to stand on my own,” he said, before taking a moment to wipe away the tears.

A family to call mine: one young man's search for a love that was never his
Provided by Rain Lee for WeirdKaya

Amidst the pain of being loved at a distance, Rain found solace in the form of his paternal grandfather. “Compared to other family members, he was the only one who treated me like his own grandson and would reward me with a fat angpau for every achievement I had. Sadly, he passed away in 2017, and it was back to me being treated as an outsider again.”

In an attempt to minimize public scrutiny about his past, Rain’s parents imposed several limitations on his activities, particularly those that may cause severe injuries.

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“I wasn’t given much freedom in doing the things I was passionate about (like sports) as they were afraid of the possibility of me going to the hospital to undergo a blood transfusion and having no relatives to match my blood type or organs.”

“I was also questioned multiple times by teachers and officers from the higher education staff whether my parents were ‘truly mine’ whenever they came to pick me from school.”

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“It all makes sense now”

As the country was forced to hunker down in March 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19, Rain was finally told by his parents that he wasn’t their own.

“My initial reaction was, ‘It all makes sense now’, since I wasn’t seen and treated like their own son and the endless bullying I suffered during my schooling years.”

However, he couldn’t accept the idea that his parents were trying to protect him by concealing his past from him.

“I believe that they had good intentions, but it ended up going down the wrong path. They are depriving me of something I really should know.

A family to call mine: one young man's search for a love that was never his
Provided by Rain Lee for WeirdKaya

Armed with the truth about his past, Rain was determined to track down his biological parents and began reaching out to friends and strangers online for their help in spreading the word. Major news outlets such as SAYS, Malay Mail, and China Press have also published his story in hopes that someone would come forward and claim him as their own.

While Rain’s father has expressed no objection to him going public with his story, the same couldn’t be said for his mother.

“She was deeply shocked as she didn’t expect the story to go viral. But she eventually came around,” he says.

Rain also received much encouragement from extended family members and friends, who praised him for his bravery in sharing his story.

“Many of them also said that they were wrong to judge, sideline, and isolate me for being different (or as I like to term it, unique).

“I hope everyone can understand this – no one likes to be left out or treated differently for being who they are.”

A family to call mine: one young man's search for a love that was never his
Provided by Rain Lee for WeirdKaya

A new hope

Following the publishing of his story, Rain is confident that he would soon reunite with his birth parents.

“On a scale from 1 to 10, I would give it a 5 as there have been people coming forward claiming to be my birth father, but no one has identified themselves as my birth mother yet,” he tells WeirdKaya.

We wondered what would Rain say to his birth and adoptive parents if they were in the same room, so we popped him the question.

“I guess I’ll tell them I don’t like it when people hide the truth. All my life, I’ve been told not to lie and always tell the truth. It’s only fair that they practice what they preach,” he answered.

As an adopted child himself, Rain plans to start a support group online for those struggling with the reality of being an adoptee.

“Honestly, I’ve always wanted to build a support group for adoptive children to connect with each other.

“You can’t change your actual background. The best option is to go for counselling even though it can’t solve everything 100%. Also, talk to others who are suffering in the same way as you are out there.”

“While I can’t say that these methods solved much of what I went through, but it feels refreshing to share how you feel with others than holding it in all alone.”

You can read Rain’s Facebook post here:

If you can share this post around, please do! Let’s help Rain reunite with family soon!

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Sources: Cover photos provided by Rain Lee for WeirdKaya

Editor: Raymond Chen
Interviewer/ Proofreader: Sarah Yeoh

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