Trey and Tag Poynter love to jump on their trampoline.
The brothers also enjoy riding their bikes and playing on their swing set. However, according to little brother Tag, they love to play tic-tac-toe the most for one very important reason. “It’s because I always win,” Tag said with a laugh.
Trey, 9, and Tag, 6, have a typical relationship. According to their mother, Monica Poynter, Trey is “chill” and “laid-back” while Tag is incredibly energetic and hyper.
However, their bond as brothers is both new and unique.
Monica and her husband, Josh Poynter, adopted Trey from China in June 2019, and he arrived in the U.S. in January.
The couple made the decision to adopt Trey mostly due to one specific similarity both children share: Both Trey and Tag have a rare bleeding disorder called hemophilia A.
The disorder causes blood not to clot normally and external or internal bleeding could occur after any injury or damage.
Shortly after being born in 2014 at TJ Sampson Community Hospital, Tag was diagnosed with hemophilia A.
The young couple from Barren County had no family history of the disorder, and they had no idea what it even was at first.
“It was surreal,” Monica Poynter said. “We were just figuring out how to be a family. Thankfully, we got a handle on it quickly.”
Tag’s young years were filled with day-to-day medication. Thankfully for the couple, Monica said that he was a “rock star” in hospital situations.
As the years went on, the Poynters wanted to grow their family and give Tag a sibling, but they were having trouble having a second child.
They finally were hand-delivered an answer to their problem after they read a story in a hemophilia magazine about how a family had adopted a child with the same bleeding disorder as their own child.
The couple felt called to go down the same path.
“When we set our heart on adopting him – we just jumped in,” Josh Poynter said. “We didn’t hold back anything. We were in the process of talking about adoption anyway, and then Trey came across our radar. We thought that having hemophilia is something they could bond over together.”
They began the adoption process through Hand In Hand International Adoptions in the spring of 2019. Not too long after doing so, the family was being flown to China where they would spend two weeks meeting Trey.
“It was overwhelming in a sense, but we were glad to get him,” Josh Poynter said. “Nothing can really prepare you for the actual experience of adopting a child. We got over there, and everyone was very kind to us. We were glad to spend the two weeks in that country bonding with him as we got to see where he was raised.”
“I have to give them credit,” Josh said of Hand In Hand International Adoptions. “I can’t credit what a professional agency they are enough. They made this as seamless as going halfway around the world to adopt a child could be.”
According to the Poynters, Trey was abandoned when he was 2 years old as is common in China to abandon children born with disorders.
The journey in China was also not without some hardships. Trey had some previous bleeds that caused him to be in a wheelchair while the Poynters visited.
Once Trey finally arrived in January, he soon had another serious bleed, but good news would soon be on the horizon.
A new medication for hemophilia called Hemlibra recently became available that allows the boys to only take medicine once every two weeks. They were both able to start the medication together.
“It’s unbelievable,” Josh said of Hemlibra. “The administrating of it has made things much easier for us. We talked with families who lived through hemophilia back in the ’80s when medical advancements were nowhere near to where they are now. Knock on wood, but the medicine has been working great.”
Fast forward to the present where Monica says Trey hasn’t missed a beat, and that he actually thinks it’s cool that he has the same disorder as his little brother.
While Trey did not initially speak English, his communication skills have greatly improved over time as his little brother has been an eager translator for him.
“He was just meant to be in our family,” Monica said.
“He has been home for almost 10 months, and it’s felt like he has been a part of our family forever,” Josh added. “It’s just worked out for all of us. Tag has a brother now. It’s hard to say anything about it without sounding cliché, but we are one big family now. He will be a part of our family forever.”
Currently, both Trey and Tag are home-schooled within the Eastwood Baptist Church Home School Group as they don’t have to worry about current COVID-19 concerns facing public schools.
Over time, the Poynters have joined the hemophilia community, which they say has been an amazing support system.
“Being a father to two kids with the medical conditions they have adds its own layer of complexity,” Josh said. “But I would not change anything at all. We have met so many supportive people through the hemophilia community. Our friends and family around here have rallied to the cause for everything that we try to do as well. It’s been fantastic.”
The future also looks as bright as it ever has for the two brothers.
According to their parents, doctors have told them a full cure for hemophilia should be available within their lifetimes. The current life expectancy for people with the disorder is similar to that of people without it.
“I think they are going to live healthy, productive lives,” Josh said. “I don’t think they are going to be inhibited by this is any way. There are no limits that are going to be placed on them. They are going to be able to pursue whatever they want to do, and I think that as a parent that’s all you can ask for.”
Having recently gone on a tour in a helicopter over the summer, both siblings now have their dreams set on one day becoming helicopter rescue workers.
But for now, both are just happy to have a brother in their life.
“Yea!” the normally shyer Trey quickly said when asked if he liked having a brother.
“I love him,” Tag also answered. “It’s awesome.”