180 – Josh Poynter of Bowling Green, KY – The Father Of Two Boys With Hemophilia
David Hirsch’s guest this week on the SFN Dad to Dad Podcast is Josh Poynter of Bowling Green, KY who is an estimator with Snake Steel in Nashville, TN. Josh and his wife, Monica, are parents to two boys, Tag and and their second son, Trey who was adopted from China. Both boys have Hemophilia.
We’ll hear the Poynter family story including the inspiration to adopt a second child. We also learn about the Hand in Hand Adoption Agency, Kentucky Hemophilia Foundation and Kosair Children’s Hospital to name a few supporting organizations.
That’s all on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast.
Email – email@example.com
Kentucky Hemophilia Foundation – http://www.kyhemo.org
Hand In Hand Adoption Agency – https://www.hihiadopt.org
Kosair Children’s Hospital Louisville, KY – https://www.kosair.com/about-shriners-hospital
Ronald McDonald House, Louisville, KY – https://rmhc-kentuckiana.org
Gift of Adoption Kentucky Chapter – https://giftofadoption.org/get-engaged/kentucky-chapter/
A Child Awaits Foundation – https://www.achildwaits.org
Tom Couch: Special thanks to Horizon Therapeutics for sponsoring today’s Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. Working tirelessly to research, develop and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics’ mission at horizontherapeutics.com.
Josh Poynter: Be an advocate for your child, because if you don’t, certainly no one else is going to. Your kids are only going to have one dad. Be as present as you can. I think your time and your attention is probably the best thing you can offer them—your true undivided attention.
Tom Couch: That’s Josh Poynter, David Hirsch’s guest this week on the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. Josh and his wife Monica are parents to two boys, Tag, and their second son Trey, who was adopted from China. Both boys have hemophilia. We’ll hear the Poynter family story, including how they were really driven to adopt a second child.
That’s all on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. Say hello to David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the Dad to Dad Podcast, fathers mentoring fathers of children with special needs, presented by the Special Fathers Network.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads. To find out more, go to 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com/groups and search Dad to Dad.
Tom Couch: And now let’s hear this fascinating conversation between Josh Poynter and David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: I am thrilled to be talking today with Josh Poynter of Bowling Green, Kentucky, who’s a father of two, and who works as an estimator for Snake Steel in Nashville, Tennessee. Josh, thanks for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the Special Fathers Network.
Josh Poynter: Glad to be here, David, and thank you for having me.
David Hirsch: You and your wife Monica have been married for 11 years and are the proud parents of two boys, Tag, 7, and Trey, 10, who was adopted from China in January 2020. Both boys have hemophilia, a rare medical condition that prevents their blood from clotting.
Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your family.
Josh Poynter: Okay. My wife and I actually both were born and raised in Barren County, Kentucky, in a fairly small town called Glasgow, about halfway between Louisville, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee, to give you some perspective on where it’s located.
My dad is from a large family. There are nine boys and two girls. And my mom’s family is from Edmonton County, Kentucky. There are eight boys and three girls in her family. So large families, with lots of aunts, uncles, cousins on both sides. You know, a typical background, I guess. I was into sports. Stayed with my mom’s side of the family in the summer, working in tobacco and hay hauling and all that stuff.
I have an older half sister who is five years older than me, and my mom’s brother and his wife that I stayed with had an only child who’s my cousin. So he was kind of like a brother to me growing up, because I stayed over there with them during the summers when school was out. That allowed me to be close to my mother’s side of the family as well and learn all the things you pick up doing that kind of work growing up.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Well, thanks for the brief flyby. I’m sort of curious to know, what did your dad do for a living?
Josh Poynter: He worked for the water treatment plant. As I said, my dad was from a large family, and his father passed away when he was only 12. So I never knew my grandpa on that side. My dad dropped out of school in order to work and help with his family, which was common from where we’re from at the time.
He went back and got his GED when I was probably 13, and advanced from a level one operator at the local water company all the way up to plant superintendent. And as a matter of fact, let’s see, in 2019 I think, he retired after 37 years. I’m very proud of him for what he had to go through to get to that point.
He retired from there. He sat out for about three months and then decided he wanted to go back to work for them, because he couldn’t find anything to occupy his time in retirement.
My mom, she was a stay-at-home mom. She raised not only me and my sister, but she kept my dad’s brother’s kids quite a bit. And there were always neighborhood kids that seemed to congregate at our house. Mom was also a seamstress. She sewed curtains, she sewed dresses, that kind of stuff. So she did the lion’s share of the home based stuff and all that entails.
David Hirsch: That’s great. So how would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Josh Poynter: My dad and I have a good relationship. We went through a period there when I became a teenager where I thought he was crazy and didn’t know what he was talking about, you know? Natural rebellion. Knock on wood, I’m sure I’ll probably have to go through that with my two boys.
But we have a good relationship now. He was an avid outdoorsman. I was into sports. I did not take after the outdoorsman stuff. I went a couple of times with him, but just from lack of interest, I didn’t pursue that. Instead, I decided to pursue sports. But he supported me in whatever I wanted to do.
He was a hardworking fella. And I’m thankful, now that I just turned 40 and I have two boys of my own, for some of the values that he tried to instill that I didn’t fully appreciate during those teen years. Again, that’s certainly not common to just us. I’m sure that’s probably more widespread than it is not.
I think about those things now, and I see a lot of his mannerisms in me. My wife says that to me all the time. I don’t necessarily know it’s all a good thing, but she says she sees a lot of my dad’s mannerisms. I find myself saying things to my two boys that he said to me a lot. Matter of fact, things I couldn’t stand at the time that he would say, I find myself repeating that now.
But you know, I guess maybe it’s just a dad thing. We have a good relationship. He’s crazy about the boys, and comes down here to see them frequently. We just have a good relationship.
David Hirsch: That’s great. Thank you for sharing and being transparent about when you were a teenager. I think there’s a Mark Twain quote that goes, “I thought my dad was really stupid until I got to be 21, and I couldn’t believe how much he had learned when I turned 21.”
So, something along those lines. Anyway, I think we each find ourselves saying or doing things that our dads did as we get a little bit older. I’m wondering if there’s a story or two, or something that you’ve tried to incorporate in your own fathering, that you learned from your dad.
Josh Poynter: You know, my wife kids me all the time about me being too punctual. You know, if I’m supposed to be there at six, I want to get there at 5:30, or I want to leave 45 minutes early to make sure we have plenty of time to get where we’re going. That’s one of those things that just has been instilled into me from my dad.
There are plenty of instances I could think of. Me getting my first public job, or even before that, those agricultural jobs I told you about growing up. He was always very big on, “Just do what you told the people you’re going to work for you were going to do, and show up, and do the best job you can.”
I try to tell that to my boys now, as far as a simple task around here. When they want to borrow something of mine, putting it back where they got it from. Little things that at the time you don’t think are going to make any difference at all, until you start to become an adult. When you start to work in your career, you see how these little things you were taught are actually building blocks that transfer over to much more important things.
But as far as specifics, I guess there are probably too many to single out just one. Dad took me to practice driving for my driving test, and all the little things I can think of that he said at the time. I always remember him telling me that when I see crazy drivers, “Josh, it’s not you I’m worried about. And it’s not you that you have to worry about. It’s everybody else out there on the road.”
And I think about that now when I’m talking to my boys about anything. It’s really preparing them for how to deal with everything else out there. It’s just little things like that that I remember.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Well, thanks for sharing. I think what I heard you say was that he has a really good work ethic, super disciplined, and he created some expectations, right? And those are all important things to plant, traits to develop in young people. And it sounds like you are entrusted with doing the same thing with your boys as well.
My recollection was that you went to Western Kentucky University, you got a BS in construction management, and you worked in a number of different roles as a project coordinator for a couple different companies. You did construction management, and then your current role is an estimator at Snake Steel from 2014 to present.
Now let’s switch gears and talk about special needs. What is hemophilia? How was it diagnosed, and what was your first reaction?
Josh Poynter: Hemophilia has two types. There is hemophilia type A, which is what our boys have, and that’s where you have a clotting protein cascade in your blood. And if you have Type A, you are missing the factor eight protein, which you need to bridge between seven and nine to make a clotting factor.
If you have hemophilia type B, you’re missing the factor nine protein. So it’s just a matter of which one of those clotting factors you’re missing. And then within that, there’s also Von Willebrand’s disease, which is kind of an offset of that, but it’s also grouped in with those two types of hemophilia.
But if you have hemophilia type A, like my boys, and you’re missing your factor eight protein, they have three levels within that. There is severe, which is less than 1%. There is moderate, which is 1% to 5%. And then there mild, which is 6% to 30%. You and I probably have anywhere from 50% on up to I guess 100%.
The people that don’t have that are grouped into those three categories, and the both of the boys are severe. They have less than 1%. Hemophilia is very rare. I think the last statistics that I read said there are probably 30-33,000 males in the US with hemophilia Type A currently, which is not a lot, given the size of our population.
Before we learned about Tag, Monica and I had never heard of this. I don’t recall ever reading about it. Maybe I did, but I just couldn’t recall it. He was born at our local hospital there in Glasgow. They did a heel stick on him, and it wouldn’t stop bleeding. So they kept check on that.
Then they went to draw blood out of his arm. He was born on a Monday, and then on Wednesday, two days later, a nurse went to give him a bath. They took off his onesie, and noticed that they had hit an artery in his arm, which caused his arm to swell up to twice its normal size.
This was the morning they were getting him ready for his circumcision, but they couldn’t get his arm to stop bleeding, and she sees that swelling. About the time she discovered that, the doctor who was coming to perform the circ saw that swelling and said, “We need to figure out what’s going on before we go any further.”
Of course, our local hospital is a smaller hospital, without the resources of a place like Vanderbilt or Kosair in Louisville. So their next move was to put Tag and me on a plane and flew us to Louisville. Since Monica had just given birth, she couldn’t fly with us. So she was brought up by ambulance.
Probably within a hour after we arrived, the doctor came out and told us Tag had hemophilia, and he started to explain that to us. As you can imagine, it was chaos and confusion. We were definitely disoriented. We had thought by Thursday we would be going home with our firstborn child, and now here we were in Louisville at the specialty children’s hospital, trying to figure out what this means. What is this hemophilia we’ve never heard of?
So that’s how we found out. And then I think we spent ten days at Kosair. They had to keep Tag there overnight, while we stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. We spent every waking moment with him, up until the time they told us we had to leave due to hospital policy and go across the street to the Ronald McDonald House.
But they kept him in there, and they had to infuse him with the medication that he needed to obviously get that arm swelling down. As you might imagine, they couldn’t do any major surgery. The swelling was causing a lot of pressure, and if we had not gotten him there when we did, there would have been even more complications.
When they got us up there, we found out that Kosair was world class. They treated him, and then for ten days Monica and I had a crash course in trying to determine what hemophilia was and learn all we could about it. And then we got to come home after ten days, still trying to figure out what life was going to be like for us and what all this was now going to mean.
And it was, and still is, a learning process. Because as you can imagine, treatments and care were changing every day, and we tried to stay top of that. But the main point is we do live in the country where they even have medicine to treat this, and second, that we have access to it.
I want to point out that we’re certainly thankful for that. This is a serious condition, make no mistake about it, but it’s much more serious probably for somebody in an underdeveloped country who obviously has no access to the medicine that we have over here. So that’s the short version.
David Hirsch: Well, thanks for sharing. It sounds like it’s been quite a journey, especially that first week or ten days. I’m wondering if there’s some meaningful advice that you received early on, not in those first ten days, but subsequently, that’s helped put this hemophilia journey in perspective.
Josh Poynter: The support system we’ve discovered has been great. When you start to get into something like this, you discover there are plenty of people who have walked that path before you, and they’re selfless with their help and information, which helps you.
Every step of the way we have had a good support system in place, with family and with the medical professionals they refer you to. So my advice would be to draw on others’ experience and help as much as you possibly can. The unknown is a large part of the fear. And I think that probably you could apply that to any type of situation.
But the unknown is the scary part. When we got to Kosair and they told us Tag’s diagnosis, from that point on it became a lot less scary. You know what you’re working with or you know what you’re working against. The not knowing is certainly the worst part.
My advice would be to realize that it’s manageable. Being a parent in general is obviously hard, and with this being our first child, we were already scared of the challenges we were going to face. But once we got the diagnosis, we started to learn what we needed to do as responsible parents to help our child to the best of our ability.
Then you follow the advice of the professionals who have walked that path and who can help you. So it’s the same advice that I would give any parent. Get all the advice and all the information that you can, and then make the best decisions you can at that time with the knowledge you have.
David Hirsch: Crystal clear. Thanks for sharing. Well, it’s not lost on me that you have two boys. One is your son Tag, who’s your biological son, and then you and Monica decided that you wanted to grow your family, and you decided to adopt. And I’m wondering, what’s the backstory on pursuing the adoption?
Josh Poynter: We had trouble conceiving Tag. We tried for a couple years and we began to almost think that we were not going to be able to have a child. Then lo and behold, Monica became pregnant with him and we had him. But then we were trying for a sibling, but it just wasn’t happening. So we started talking about adoption.
We attended a couple of local classes with Foster to Adopt in Bowling Green, which was now our home town. And both of us got this feeling at the same time. After each one of those classes, we would get back in the car. We’d say, “What do you think? What are you feeling?” And it just didn’t seem the right fit for us. So we were kind of still in a holding pattern, exploring fertility treatment options, trying to figure out the next step.
Well, we get a monthly magazine called HemAware, which is published by the National Hemophilia Foundation. And it just so happened at the time we were looking for some type of direction, there was an article in there by—I have to name drop here—Shari Luckey from the Michigan Hemophilia Foundation. The article was about international adoption of kids with hemophilia, which kind of ties into what I was mentioning earlier about access to medicine.
You know, they had some stories in there about these kids coming from some underdeveloped countries that had no access to medicine, and some of their stories—not to make this a competition, but our experience with Tag, as scary and frightening as it was, pales in comparison to what some of these kids faced and what their parents faced.
You know, we got to go to Kosair in three days, and we found somebody who diagnosed him. They had the stuff for treatment. We come home, we have access to medicine. Okay? To receive that type of news, that’s probably as good as things can go. Well, you know, you read these stories about these international kids, and they had a different experience, to say the least.
So that got Monica’s wheels turning. When we were talking about adoption and foster to adopt, we weren’t necessarily talking about finding another child with hemophilia. Okay? We were just talking about a sibling for Tag. Well, when Monica read this article, then we got to thinking about how that would give them a bonding experience.
Like I said, hemophilia is rare. So if there was a child who had it, one, we could get them and they would have access to the medicine and treatment that we have over here. And number two, that would give the siblings something to bond over.
So Monica kicked off the process by contacting Shari, and she referred us to the Hand in Hand adoption agency. Monica had some initial interviews with them and kinda started kicking over the rocks of what that process would be, how long it would take, and what all that would entail.
This would have been in late March, early April of 2019. They told us it was going to be a several month process. So we probably committed around that time saying, “Okay, this is definitively what we are going to do.” Then came the endless list of questions you have. But we got in touch with Hand in Hand and told them we were committed to doing that, and that got the process kicked off around April of 2019.
So they start sending us potential adoption candidates, and Monica settled on Trey. Call it mother’s intuition. We went through some of the profiles and just decided on him. In 2019, he would’ve been eight. And when you’re that age in the adoption process, most people probably are looking to adopt a kid that’s a little bit younger so they can have more time to bond with them. They can have those early growing up years.
When you start to get around eight or nine or ten, I hate to use the word less desirable, but that’s precisely what it is. And he was getting to a point where the adoption agency was worried that he was going to age out, as they term it. And I guess it tugged at Monica’s heartstrings, so she said definitively that’s what we’re going to do.
So we let the adoption agency know that, and they start that process by having correspondence with the adoption agency in China where he was based. The you have the process of having to get qualified and cleared over here, and then you have to get your documents over there so their agency can comb through them.
My wife would be much more well versed to describe the process. But it was a lot of paperwork, a lot of getting things notarized. My wife did the lion’s share of that, and she deserves every bit of the credit for driving to Frankfurt to get stuff notarized. She was a tireless worker, in addition to taking care of Tag.
She spearheaded that process, certainly with a lot of help from Hand to Hand. And then Hand in Hand referred us to three nonprofits who helped with grants, because it is an expensive process. So they recommended us to A Child Awaits, Help Us Adopt, and Gift of Adoption. Those are three nonprofits that gave us grants to help us.
And of course we had tremendous support from the local Kentucky Hemophilia Foundation based in Louisville that you had reached out to Ursula regarding. Not only were they fantastic with the adoption, they have been fantastic every step of the way since Tag was born.
I would be hard pressed to name anybody that is more supportive and just such an advocate for the hemophilia community than Ursula Connolly, as she is fantastic. And she certainly cares about every kid that they come in contact with there. And she was fantastic during this process as well.
So long story short, we got all the paperwork lined up by January of 2020. We flew over there. Tag’s never been on an airplane. So we flew from Nashville to Detroit to Beijing, China in 16 hours. I’ve lost count of how many time zones we went through. Then we flew from Beijing down to Guang Jo, which is the southern part of China, where were to stay before meeting our in-country liaison.
And then we had to go back into the countryside in the city of Shawan, which is the actual province where Trey and his adoption agency were, to the orphanage where he was staying, to pick him up. So I guess we were in the country for approximately two weeks.
We got home the last week in January, and as you well know, by that point there were rumblings of the Covid 19 pandemic on the horizon. But nobody had any idea, I don’t think, in January of 2020 what was going to happen with the lockdown two months later. So we were extremely fortunate to get back with him before all that happened.
And I have to be careful how I say this. Obviously Covid has caused a lot of trouble and heartbreak. But the lockdown occurring when it did and being forced to quarantine, was probably beneficial to us, in that it made us a tighter knit group after Trey got here.
So if you can say nothing good about that, at least that came out well for our family. We kind of sheltered in place like everybody else. We’ve got this new son, and then we’re overcoming a language barrier and just getting used to having another kid, and managing Tag’s reactions, and just becoming a family.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I love the story. I love your hearts, and what a journey it was to go through the sort of process psychologically about considering fostering to adopt and then, not abandoning that, but not feeling it. And then educating yourselves, learning a little bit more about what’s going on in China and the situation, and how God touched your hearts, and that puts you down that path.
And it’s not lost on me that you find yourself as a young family, the two of you and your young son Tag, flying overseas to find his…I was going to say younger brother, but it turns out it’s his older brother. I don’t know a lot about adoption, but I know that they usually advise couples that are adopting if they already have a child or children, to adopt younger so that the birth order doesn’t get changed.
Josh Poynter: Right.
David Hirsch: And I’m wondering if that was an issue, or if there were any other concerns or considerations that you and Monica had to address.
Josh Poynter: We did have that discussion, when she definitively decided that Trey was the child that we wanted to pursue. We were obviously aware that he was older than Tag, and we were going to be upsetting the birth order.
And when I mentioned earlier, as far as advice, to get all the information and input that you can, keep in mind not all of that is going to be something you want to hear. We read the books on adoption, and not all of it was to expect good news. You are going to have trouble, and you’re going to have questions that obviously you’re going to have to find the answers to.
And one of them was upsetting the birth order. But we kind of took it as a leap of faith that he was still going to be the child we were going to go after, and we would deal with that accordingly. And now with the benefit of hindsight, having him home, it’s worked out great.
He and Tag are polar opposites, personality wise, but they’re good counterbalances to each other. So I would have to speak with another family who upset the birth order to see if they had trouble from that, but that’s not been our experience, and that’s all I can speak to. All the books that we read said they don’t recommend doing that. But knock on wood, in our case, we’ve not had any issues with it.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. And, not to focus on the negative, but to be authentic, I’m wondering, what have been the biggest challenges that you and Monica have faced since you brought Trey home from China?
Josh Poynter: You know there’s definitely still a little bit of the language barrier that we are overcoming. Trey is picking up conversational English more and more each day. He still has trouble sometimes trying to clearly articulate what he’s wanting to tell us and find the way to say that, but that just comes with learning a new language. So we’re working through that. We have a local lady who comes from the university to help Trey stay in touch with his Chinese language. And she’s actually helping Tag as well. She tutors them both in Chinese.
But we have that language barrier, and then there is just getting him into a new place and getting him into a routine that is probably so different from what he was accustomed to. But now we’ve had him home as long as we have, it’s very weird. It’s almost like he’s been here for longer than he’s been here. He’s just a part of our family now. We can’t imagine it without him.
But as far as the trouble, you know, we’re no different than any other parents. Even if our boys did not have hemophilia, even if they had no health concerns, were not special need kids, you still worry about your children. You worry on a day-to-day basis, “Am I making the right decision? Are we doing the right things?”
And sometimes you’re probably not going find out until later on in life—when they’re out on their own and they’re productive members of society—what you did right or wrong. But these are questions most parents ask themselves. So we wrestle with concerns as parents, and then we also wrestle with concerns as parents of children with hemophilia.
You know, for instance, we’re taking them to the hemophilia camp this weekend. They’re going to do it in pods, given that there’s still some concerns with Covid out there. It’s just going to be us in a group going through the camp activities and then going back to a hotel. But that’s still something for them to do.
But we didn’t want to only do things within the hemophilia community, as fantastic and as supportive as they are. For instance, before we got Trey, Tag played soccer at our local little league. I hate to use the word normal, but we just want them to have a normal childhood and to be able to be as carefree as possible, to enjoy being a kid and everything that entails. At the same time, we have to balance that while keeping in mind that they are somewhat limited by the hemophilia.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, I appreciate your transparency. And I think I picked up on the reason to avoid using the word normal because the opposite of that is abnormal.
Josh Poynter: Right.
David Hirsch: I think what you’re intending is the word typical, right? You want them to have a typical experience. That’s a broader term, and I think it’s a little bit more socially acceptable.
So I’m thinking about advice now, and I’m wondering if there’s any advice that you can offer a dad who might be listening, who’s either going through a similar situation to the one that you’ve described, or maybe contemplating adoption for that matter. Is there any specific advice that you can share?
Josh Poynter: For me, that’s a difficult question. I struggle being a father every day, and I still wonder sometimes, am I doing the right thing? When they’re in bed at night and they’re quiet and they look like angels in there, I can totally forget about the trail of devastation they have left earlier in the day. But sometimes I think, did I overreact there? What kind of long term harm might come from my reaction?
But the advice that I would give is that you are the biggest advocate for your child. And be present. Like I said, I think back now being six and seven years old and remembering specific things my dad told me, or remembering specific things we did—you know, it’s funny how you remember that later. And my kids are going to do that. So I try to keep that in mind at all times.
Do I succeed in how I act about certain things with them? Probably not. Tag is about to turn seven, and I look back to his pictures that his mother has up of his first Christmas. That’s not been six years ago, but I have a hard time remembering what that was like.
To me, he has always been the age that he is now, and weird for me to think that he is about to be seven. On one hand he’s an avid reader, and he’s exceptionally smart. Both boys are super smart, and I’m proud of that. But at the same time, it’s crazy to see just how fast they’re growing up.
And in the context of another couple years, they’re not going to want to have anything to do with Dad for a little bit. Probably they’re going to get into those independent years, and then sure enough, they’re going to be moving out and going to college. And if these next couple years go anywhere near as fast as these seven have been, or the almost two since we’ve had Trey home, I’m going to be wondering, where did they go? I’m already wondering where the previous years went.
So I would say to dads out there, be present, slow down if you can. Everything is so fast paced these days. Just about all aspects of life are so fast paced. Try to slow down and enjoy what you can. My boss has got an older son and an older daughter that have moved out and gone to college, and he’s telling me, you know, you need to get a notebook, Josh. Write down these things your boys say that you think are so funny, because you won’t remember them. Then you’ll look back one of these days and read over those and enjoy it.
So my wife and I try. We don’t do as good a job as we should, but we try to do little things like that, so we can think back to this time. But I also want to be present for this time. I don’t want to just record memories of it to look at later. I want to enjoy them so much now, the best that I can, so they’re ingrained in my memory.
But be an advocate for your child, because if you aren’t, certainly no one else is going to be. Your kids are only going to have one dad, so be as present as you can. I think your time and your undivided attention are probably the best things you can offer them.
Probably the biggest lesson I had to learn when Tag was born was just how perceptive children are from an early age, when you think they’re not paying attention, when you think they’re not learning to mimic and pick up what you’re doing. I learned that the hard way, trust me. But they certainly are watching from an early age, and they pick up on things, whether you think they do or not.
So I try to not take my work aggravation around them. Everything else out there, you know, there’s no manual. It’s trial and error. Even my dad and I, we have a good relationship now and a lot of the things that he said were certainly true and, and I’m finding that out. But we also still have our differences on other things. We’re two individual human beings.
So there’s no 100% right way to do anything. We’re all doing the best we can, given the information we have at the time. There are going to be missteps, so just be present, give your kids as much time as you can afford, and I think they’ll certainly remember that.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, thanks for sharing. Just to paraphrase what you’ve said, be their biggest advocate and be present. Which is very consistent with the mission statement of the 21st Century Dad’s Foundation, which is inspiring dads to be present physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually.
And then I really like that idea about journaling. I missed out on that. Our kids are 24 to 31. I think that there’s something there, right? Taking notes. I mean, some people do that with pictures and videos, but you want to capture those moments, right? So when you look back, you’ve got a more vivid memory. That’s what I heard you saying about the experience.
So I’m sort of curious to know, why is it that you’ve agreed to be a mentor father as part of the Special Fathers Network?
Josh Poynter: You know, being a father is extremely hard and extremely rewarding. I had a friend one time that I’d grown up with who had just had her first child. I asked her what it was truly like having a kid.
She was an English major, very articulate, and she said, I’m at a loss for words here. All I can tell you is that it is really good and really hard at the same time. I kind of dismissed that at the time. But when Tag came along, I started to see that.
It’s hard for me to pin down what being a parent is like. But it is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. So trying to figure out what I could offer to any other fathers out there who might have thought along those same lines is something I would like to do.
As a matter of fact, for all the podcasts I’ve listened to, with what you’ve done, and the awareness you’ve raised, and the role that you’ve played in trying to make fathers aware of just how important their role is—that’s an admirable thing. So whatever I can do that somebody else may listen to, I would certainly like to offer that.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, we’re thrilled to have you. Thank you for being part of the Network. I’m curious to know, is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Josh Poynter: You know, I’ve tried to give shout outs to everybody that I could think of. The Kentucky Hemophilia Foundation. Again, thank you, Ursula, and the Foundation for the tireless work that you do. And anybody out there that is as willing and in a position to offer some support to them, I would certainly recommend looking them up. They’re easy to find online these days.
And to all the dads out there who are working every day to be good fathers, keep it up, guys. Keep it up. And all the mothers out there. Obviously I have no problem in telling you that my wife does the lion’s share of the stuff here in our household.
She runs things, and she’s just fantastic. There’s no way that I could be the dad that I am or try to be without her. You know, dads, my father is now getting to be in his sixties, and not to sound morbid, but I realize how much I’m going to miss him when he’s no longer around just to have casual conversations with.
He’s my phone-a-friend guy when I have a leaky toilet. “Hey, how do I fix this?” I can call him, because chances are, all the things that I’m getting ready to do, he’s probably done and can save me a lot of time and heartache. And just having him as a resource for little things like that—and somebody to talk to—you know, there’s no value to be placed on that.
And I want my boys to say the same thing. They may go through that phase where they’re teenagers, and the old man’s crazy. But hopefully they’ll circle back around, and then we’ll be like my dad and I are now, and they’ll realize they can count on me.
But being a father is tough, and it is far and above the most rewarding thing in my life. I’m very proud to be a father to my two boys. And so dads out there, just be the best dads you can be. It’s a very important role. It’s hard to overstate how important having a father is.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Well, if somebody wants to learn more about hemophilia or adoption or to contact you, how would they do that?
Josh Poynter: The Kentucky Hemophilia Foundation can be found at kyhemo.org. They’re relatively easy to find. I’m on LinkedIn. There are connections on there. That’s pretty much the only type of social media I use. Other than that, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Hirsch: I’ll be sure to include each of those in the show notes, so it’ll make it as easy as possible for somebody to follow up with you.
Josh Poynter: Thank you very much
David Hirsch: Josh, thank you for taking the time and many insights. As a reminder, Josh is just one of the dads who’s part of the Special Fathers Network, a mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs. If you’d like to be a mentor father, or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21stcenturydads.org.
Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. As you probably know, the 21st Century Dads Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free to all concerned. Would you please consider making a tax deductible contribution? I would really appreciate your support.
David Hirsch:, Josh, thanks again.
Josh Poynter: David, thank you for having me. And thank you for all your work in this field.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast. The Special Fathers Network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support other dads. To find out more, go to 21stcenturydads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com/groups and search dad to dad. Also, please be sure to register for the Special Fathers Network biweekly Zoom calls held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month.
Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story, or know of a compelling story, please send an email to David@21stcenturydads.org.
Tom Couch: The Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast was produced by me, Tom Couch. Thanks again to Horizon Therapeutics who believe that science and compassion must work together to transform lives. That’s why they work tirelessly to research, develop, and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about Horizon Therapeutics at horizontherapeutics.com.