Country musician Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren Akins have two beautiful baby girls. One of their girls, Willa Gray, was adopted from Uganda in May of 2017, and the other, Ada James, was born three months after Willa Gray came to her new home.
Even though the adoption process wasn’t quick or easy — it was a year-long process before Willa Gray came to live with her parents — the country music star says it feels like Willa Gray has always been part of the family.
“The word ‘adopted’ doesn’t even make sense in my head anymore really,” he told People magazine. “I know that it happened and I remember it very vividly, but it kind of feels like she has just always been here. Even though Willa Gray comes from [a] whole different part of the world, she’s ours and it feels like she never wasn’t.”
And now that they’re a family of four, he and his wife are teaching their kids to embrace their roots.
Willa Gray and Ada James may not have been born on the same continent, but they’re both being raised with Tennessee roots, which includes an embrace of the outdoors, an appreciation of music and more.
“Willa Gray and Ada are outside children,” Rhett told People magazine. “There really is something special when you connect your kids with nature. It teaches them a sense of just how big the world is and how beautiful the world is.”
He also notes that Masindi, where Willa Gray was born, is similar to Tennessee in its landscape and values.
“It doesn’t get any countrier than being in Masindi. Everywhere you look is corn or beans, or chicken farms, or cows,” he told the publication.
Clearly, this family loves being in the outdoors together. This photo was taken during a hike and Akins uploaded it to her Instagram:
“In Uganda, family and religion are super important and music is gigantic,” continues Rhett. “If I just pick up a guitar, Willa starts dancing. It’s in her blood.”
Raising two little ones who are close in age — Willa Gray is 2 years old and Ada James recently turned 1 — isn’t always easy. But it’s nice that they’re able to grow up together and, because of this, they’ll likely always share a close bond.
“As hard as it is having the two of them so close together, it’s also amazing,” Akins told Us Weekly. “I love that they have each other. It is very, very sweet.”
The pair does manage to get into mischief — which their mom documents on Instagram:
“As of two hours ago just this morning an entire milk bottle spilled on our white fabric couch, Ada James got her head stuck in the metal bars under our side table behind the couch, the Willa Gray proceeded conveniently get her hand stuck in the OTHER side table right after-neither of those things have ever happened in the last 15 months they’ve both been here btw,” the mom wrote.
But then there are also moments when the two are sweet as can be. Take this quiet moment on the beach that was captured and shared on Instagram, for instance:
What’s most important to the family is that their daughters can grow up to be good people and always be proud of where they’re from.
“I hope that we can raise both of our children to be super proud of who they are and where they come from — and that they know me and Lauren love them beyond anything else that exists in this world,” Rhett told People magazine. “I hope we can just raise good, kind kids.”
So far, they’re off to a great start! We couldn’t be happier for this adorable family!