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Kelly Clarkson was moved to tears after hearing Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins recall their journey to adopting 4-year-old daughter Willa Gray.
On Thursday, the country music star and his wife appeared on the at-home edition of The Kelly Clarkson Show and spoke to Clarkson about their family.
Clarkson started the conversation by asking the couple why they chose to adopt first, with Akins telling the "Stronger" singer that she had "always talked about adopting" her "whole life" and that her mom is adopted.
"I just thought it was really cool," the mother of two said. "We'd talked about it off and on, but it wasn't something that we had sat down and had, like, a full-on adoption conversation."
To comply with Uganda’s complex adoption laws, the couple was required to foster the baby there over the course of a year. That meant nearly a dozen trips back and forth to the East African nation. Things became even more (wonderfully) complicated when they learned they were pregnant with their daughter Ada James Akins in the midst of fostering.
Akins recalled to PEOPLE having to travel to Uganda during her third trimester to finalize the adoption, but then having to leave for a pregnancy check-up before the process was complete.
“It felt weird leaving one daughter and making sure the other one is okay. But I couldn’t do it another way,” Akins said at the time. “It killed me not being able to bring [Willa] home, but looking back, I think it was a blessing in disguise because I got to be home and nest before she got here — and catch up on my sleep so I wasn’t so jet-lagged!”
Akins's parents ended up bringing Willa home to Nashville once the adoption was finalized in May.
“Seeing her there felt like a dream,” Lauren said of her first glimpse of Willa when her parents drove up to the private hangar where they met. “It’s something we’ve worked for and hoped for for so long and it’s just a dream come true."
Just a few months later, Ada was born in August, and earlier this year, the couple welcomed their third child together, daughter Lennon Love Akins.
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