Thomas Rhett’s 6-Year-Old, Willa Gray, Is Starting to Ask ‘Intense Questions’ About Her Adoption
As a busy parent of four, Thomas Rhett says the biggest challenge that he and his wife, Lauren Akins, are facing right now is making quality one-on-one time for each of their kids.
For their oldest, 6-year-old Willa Gray, there's an additional factor to consider: The couple adopted her from Uganda, and are starting to field questions from their daughter about how she became a member of their family.
"She asks questions all the time," Rhett tells Today co-anchor Hoda Kotb — who adopted two children of her own — in her new podcast, Making Space With Hoda Kotb. "She talks to Lauren, like, 'When can we go see my friends in Uganda?'"
That can prompt responses from Willa's younger sisters, like 4-and-a-half-year-old Ada James. "And then Ada James will be like, 'Well, when can I go see our friends in Uganda?' And Willa Gray will be like, 'Well, they're not your friends, they're my friends.'"
Rhett doesn't always know how he should respond to Willa's questions, he admits. "I think when you become a parent, you're like, 'Well, I'm a dad, I have all the answers.' Or, 'I'm a mom, I have all the answers.' And adoption is one of the most beautiful things in the world, but I don't think at the beginning of it you go, 'Oh, in six years I'm gonna have to start answering some really intense questions,'" he continues.
"You go, 'Well, what age is the right age?' The world is moving so fast that it's like, to have a conversation with a 6-year-old like that — maybe I'm old-school that way — but I'm like, 'Maybe we need to wait 'til she's 10,'" Rhett goes on to say.
The singer and his wife sometimes struggle to find a balance between honesty and preserving their children's innocence for as long as possible. "They haven't been tainted by the world yet. They haven't been jaded by the world yet," he points out. "They don't see things like adults see things. And so in your parent brain, you're like, 'How can I keep this innocence alive as long as possible?'
"We try to be as honest as we can without the confusion. But it's freaking hard," Rhett adds.