2017 was a really big year for country star Thomas Rhett.
In addition to going on tour, turning out the number one hit “Die a Happy Man,” and handling his career skyrocketing, he and his wife Lauren Akins welcomed not one, but two daughters.
In a new in-depth interview with PEOPLE, the 28-year-old opened up about adopting daughter Willa Gray from Uganda, saying, “The word ‘adopted’ doesn’t even make sense in my head anymore really,” he says. “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.”
Shortly after the couple decided to adopt Willa, they found out they were expecting, which meant only three months after they brought Willa home, Ada James was born. “They are two peas in a pod getting into all kinds of trouble together,” Rhett said of his daughters. When they aren’t getting into trouble however, they are living life both on tour and on stage with their famous dad. “Probably as early as high school, I thought if I had kids and I got to tour one day that I’d want my kids to be a full part of that touring life,” the singer explained.
Right now, Willa and Ada are too young to comprehend their dad’s fame and he wants to keep it that way. “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,” he said. “Willa Gray and Ada are outside children. There really is something special when you connect your kids with nature,” he added. “It teaches them a sense of just how big the world is and how beautiful the world is.”
“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 said. “She’s from Tennessee and she’s from Uganda and I want her to be proud of that.”
“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. I hope we can just raise good, kind kids.”