For Lauren Akins, raising awareness of the worldwide orphan crisis has been a lifelong mission. “My heart has always been driven to that,” the 28-year-old wife of country singer Thomas Rhett explains in the new issue of Us Weekly. “It just started as this calling in my life, to speak for these children who don’t have a voice. This is what I was really here to do. It lined up perfectly with my heart.”
But while traveling the globe with Gwen Oatsvall and Suzanne Mayernick’s 147 Million Orphans organization, she was dealing with her own heartbreak. Struggling to conceive, she and Rhett, 27, turned to adoption in 2016.
“I had always wanted to adopt,” she says. “My mom is actually adopted. I am a product of an adopted family. So, it has always been something that has been very natural for me.”
Then she met Willa Gray, 2, while in Uganda.
“When I saw her, I don’t know, but I was very drawn to her,” she gushes. “I just tell everyone she was always my baby. It just took us a little bit longer to find each other.”
Akins explains that Rhett was just as excited and open to welcoming the little girl into their family. “I called Thomas one of the first nights I met her in Uganda and told him about her,” she recalls. “Without hesitation he said, ‘Bring her home. She is ours. We are going to make this happen.’”
Then came another miracle. Months after meeting Willa Gray, Akins learned she was pregnant, “which was a little surprise,” she says.
Willa Grey finally came home in May 2017 and just three months later in August, the couple welcomed to Ada James.
“As hard as it is having the two of them so close together, it’s also amazing,” she tells Us. “I love that they have each other. It is very, very sweet.”
When asked if she’s open to having more kids: “I have always wanted a full house. I don’t know how we will do it again. We are definitely going to have a little break.”
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