Adoption was part of the plan and dream for Thomas Rhett’s wife, Lauren Akins.
Her mother is adopted, so the story has always been a part of her life and one that she wanted to continue for her own family. That wasn’t necessarily the case for her husband, however, who had never really been close to adoption.
He wasn’t closed off to the idea, but he’d never really pondered it quite like his better half.
So imagine his wife’s surprise when Rhett was the one who spoke up with the idea to adopt Willa Gray after learning of the little girl’s plight in a Ugandan orphanage.
“I love that it started with him,” she told Southern Living during a recent shoot for the magazine, “because so much of me wanting to adopt, I always felt like it was more me, but he just jumped right on the train and never looked back.”
And what joy little Willa has brought to this family as a rambunctious, thriving two-year-old, whom mom professes is a bit of a “wild” child. But it turns out, she’s also somewhat of a baby whisperer when it comes to calming little sister Ada James.
“She tells me if something is ever wrong with the baby,” Lauren says of Willa Gray. “She wants everything to be perfect with the baby. She’s always wanting to help her. Even at two, she’s already so protective and sweet. She just takes care of her.
“They work so well together. If the baby is ever crying, and we can’t figure out how to fix it or make her calm down a little bit, my first line of help is always ‘Where is Willa Gray?!’”
Rhett heads to Sunday’s (April 15) 53rd annual ACM Awards with six nominations including male vocalist and album of the year for Life Changes.