Page 4 - MidWeek Kauai - July 21, 2021
P. 4

        Love remains the driving force for Duane and Lyn Pagay, who are the proud parents of four children and 15 foster keiki.
     The Maui resident spent his childhood on Lāna‘i moving in and out of the foster care system. He was eventually reunited with his parents, but says that ar- rangement only made his life worse. Raised in an environ- ment surrounded by the drug trade, he soon started com- mitting street crimes, selling drugs himself, and eventually ended up in prison.
Despite the bleak circum- stances he found himself in, he was determined to change. Part of that involved owning up to his own poor decisions.
“Family means everything to me,” explains Lyn. “So, if I can help a family, I will try my best, especially in sit- uations like this — to care, support and love on the child. Not only the child, but their parents as well.”
Seeing how well that ex- perience went for the Pagays inspired Mary Leyva, a com- munity liaison with Partners in Development Founda- tion, whose Hui Ho‘omalu program recruits and guides prospective resource caregiv- ers through the foster care li- censing process.
Now a new road presented itself, one in which the cou- ple could provide for keiki the love and guidance that Duane says he lacked in his childhood.
so many children is worth the sacrifice because of the love they have for these keiki and their personal circumstances.
“Being taken from bad times to go into foster care taught me to run from my problems,” he states. “And, being taken from foster care, where everything was go-
It was during this time of personal transformation that Duane met his wife, Jonah- lyn, or Lyn as she is known. Soon, the couple would choose a direction that would
“The Pagays appeared so welcoming and caring for all children; and at the HANAI training, Duane disclosed that he himself had been in fos- ter care in a general home,” recalls Leyva, adding that she encouraged the couple
ince that fateful deci- sion to become foster parents, the Pagays
“Going through the pro- cess of self-healing and to better myself was very hard and hurtful at the same time, because I had to learn to hold myself accountable for all of my mistakes as an adult,” he says.
“Duane and I came to an agreement that we wanted to continue to be there for these
(According to Partners in Development Foundation, a nonprofit that uses Native Hawaiian values and tradi- tions to equip families and communities for service, there are approximately 1,500 children in foster care on any given day in Hawai‘i. These youths often experi- ence a greater rate of home- lessness, sex exploitation, drug and alcohol abuse, and incarceration.)
Duane agrees, saying,“It was an awesome feeling knowing that we were there for a child in a time of need, and to be able to help a fam- ily get the help they needed in a dark time.”
Schildren and let them know that they are loved and want- ed,” Lyn adds.
The ever-growing Pagay family is made up of parents Duane and Lyn, and their keiki (clockwise, from top) Micah, Jaidee, Jaida and Jaiden. Not pictured are the couple’s 15 foster children.
 Duane Pagay was at a crossroads. He was carrying a lot of pain from his past and knew that he was not only hurting himself with his actions, but his family as well.
ing good and getting better, and having to go back to the abuse, taught me to sabotage myself when my life was go- ing good or it made me think thatIhadtomessupformy life to be normal.”
lead them to fostering 15 children, in addition to car- ing for their own four keiki.
Lyn admits to having mixed feelings.
to switch their child-specific license to a general foster li- cense. “After he shared that, I expressed to him and Lyn how relating to children in foster care could be positive.”
Jaida. The couple also recent- ly adopted 2-year-old Jaidee. “She was just 9 days old and has been with us ever
 Their first opportunity on this new path came when they were asked to take care of a relative’s baby. Thank- fully, the Pagays didn’t hesi- tate in making that decision.
“Honestly, it was very hard, as baby came to us at 2 months old,” she reveals. “But then again, it was a great feeling knowing that he got to be with his parents again.”
since,” Duane states.
For the Pagays, fostering
 When the baby boy was reunited with his parents,
have welcomed 15 foster keiki into their home to join three of their own children: 19-year-old Micah, 11-year- old Jaiden and 9-year-old
Duane insists that he’s al-

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