Thomas Rhett is quickly becoming one of the biggest stars in country music. He is currently opening for Keith Urban, but not long after that's over he'll be headlining his own tour.
Rhett is the son of country superstar Rhett Akins, but he has paved his own way in the industry. He tries to separate himself from his dad, only because he wants to be known for his own success.
“I love my dad with all my heart,” Rhett said in an interview. “But that’s one of the main questions I’ve been asked since I became an artist. To this day, every phoner I do for a radio station, one of the first things is, 'I played your daddy’s songs back in 1995.’”
Rhett is certainly making a life for himself outside of his father's shadow, and that includes starting his own family. The "Life Changes" singer is married to his childhood best friend, Lauren, although that almost didn't happen.
"I almost married someone else, she did too," Rhett said in an interview. "Her dad called me and said, 'If you don't come over here tonight and tell Lauren how you feel about her, then I'm going to tell her how you feel about her.'"
The two got married in 2012, and five years later they welcomed not one, but two kids. In 2017, Thomas and Lauren announced they were adopting a little girl, Willa Gray, from Uganda. They had met Willa while in Uganda visiting orphans with a charity, and had recently had troubles conceiving. Rhett saw his wife holding Willa and said "it just felt like she was already our daughter in a weird way."
YALL 😩🙌🏼😭💗 Our baby girl is hommmmeeeeee 🎈🇺🇸💙🇺🇸🎈 Thank you Jesus for bringing our family together on the same continent finally :) little cutie Willa Gray Akins came home yesterday after completely stealing our hearts in Uganda over a year ago & we're sooooo happy we just can't stand it 💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛💛 • • • **PARENTS OF THE YEAR: thank you mom & dad for bringing her home since this pregnant mama is officially grounded due to baby Akins #2 coming in August 😩💚💚 • • • **FRIEND OF THE YEAR: thank you sweet @kaileydickerson for capturing some of the most special moments for us & for traveling with me to Uganda and back😘💗💗 • • • ** our FRIENDS & our FAMILY OF THE CENTURY: y'all have walked through and prayed through every single moment of this adoption with us, were our ROCKS through it all, kept it a secret, and truly had faith & hope for us when we felt like we had none left. I could cry thinking about each one of you-y'all know who you are & we are beyond blessed with our community God has given us🙏🏼 we love y'all more than any words could come close to describing. I might just throw you all a giant party celebrating y'all 😭😭💪🏼🙌🏼😘😘😘😘 • • • BRB STILL FREAKING OUT OUR DAUGHTER IS HOME 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸😩🌈👼🏾💪🏼🎉🙏🏼😭🙌🏼💚🎈💗💗
But the excitement didn't end there. While they were in the process of adopting Willa, Thomas and Lauren found out they were expecting their first biological daughter as well. Ada James was born in August of 2017, just months after Willa came home. But even though Willia is not his biological daughter, Rhett says they're both equally his daughters.
“The word ‘adopted’ doesn’t even make sense in my head anymore really,” Rhett told PEOPLE. “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.”
Rhett is also aware that Willa has a different background than him and Lauren, but he wants her to embrace that part of her life.
"I hope God has given me all the right tools to raise Willa Gray to know that no matter where she comes from, she is our child, and that we want her to express her diversity,” Rhett acknowledged. “She’s from Tennessee and she’s from Uganda and I want her to be proud of that.”
Our sweet Ugandan sunshine came home to America a year ago today😭. This pic was us in Uganda in the thick of our adoption, trying to bring our baby home. Cannot imagine a life without my baby girl who made me a mama💗💗 I wish I could still swaddle you and hold you just like this😩💗 So thankful that Jesus gave me you, Willa Gray. Being your mama will forever be the greatest thing I ever get to do. I love you to the moon and stars cutie pie😘😘😘
And if you thought Willa and Ada James would be living an extremely luxurious life as the daughters of a country star, you'd be wrong. Rhett was very clear that he intends for them to grow up like he did, comfortable but not spoiled.
“We had what we needed but it was never excessive or over the top, and I think we’re trying to really instill that in our children too," said Rhett. “When I’m home, I want them to experience a normal life, disregarding what I do for a living or what Lauren does for a living.”
“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 said. "I hope we can just raise good, kind kids.”
Rhett currently has his family on tour with him, saying it was one of his favorite parts of his childhood.