Adoptive parents deserve every ounce of respect that we can give them. I mean, raising children is hard enough on its own.
But the act of virtue that is adoption can introduce all sorts of complications. For example, most adoptive children come from completely different backgrounds than their new parents.
Even if they’re well-adjusted kids, mothers and fathers can quickly find themselves in over their heads. That seemed to be how country musician Thomas Rhett felt when he and his wife, Lauren Akins, welcomed their adoptive daughter, Willa Gray, into their home.
“Every day, you wake up with a whole new set of challenges that you never even heard of,” he told People magazine. Still, the singer wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“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.”
Willa Gray was originally from Uganda, and the family wanted to make sure that she understood she belonged in both the American South and her birth country. “She’s from Tennessee and she’s from Uganda and I want her to be proud of that,” Thomas Rhett said.
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“You don’t have to be from the South to be in the country. … It doesn’t get any countrier than being in Masindi (Uganda).”
That care, consideration and inclusiveness were on display in a recent picture Rhett posted on Instagram. It showed him cuddled up with Willa Gray in bed.
In it, they were both wearing pink bonnets with polka dots on them. The bonnets had elastic cinching in them so that they clung closely to the wearers’ scalps.
“Just a little night cap,” Rhett wrote for the picture’s caption. And while it was cute to see a dad acting slightly silly with his daughter, People magazine insightfully noted that the snap had a deeper significance.
Many Anglo-Americans don’t realize that people from Africa have different hair-care needs. A bonnet will keep the tight curls atop Willy Gray’s head from getting frizzy or damaged as she sleeps.
Social media erupted with approval. “I remember how embarrassed I used to be at sleepovers when I had to wear my bonnet around friends that didn’t understand,” one commenter said.
Another added, “I can tell by her smile that he regularly shows her amazing love. Great job dad!!!”
Yet another said, “A father who loves his daughter. May God bless and grow you!”
Indeed, Rhett credits the Almighty with any gains he might make as a father. After first bringing Willa Gray home, he discussed how he hoped he could raise her properly.
“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,” he said. “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.”
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