On the most recent episode of Hoda Kotb's podcast, "Making Space with Hoda Kotb," the TODAY co-anchor spoke to country music star Thomas Rhett about family planning, adoption and speaking honestly with children about all the ways families are created.
Hoda, who has two adopted daughters, Haley and Hope, asked Rhett if his children ever ask about adoption. Rhett and his childhood sweetheart and wife of 10 years Lauren Rhett, adopted their daughter, Willa Gray, from Uganda before welcoming their second daughter, Ada James, to the world.
The couple also have two more daughters, Lennon Love and Lillie.
“What questions is Willa Gray asking or are your other daughters asking?” Hoda asked. “And how have you guys navigated that? Because I’ve got two kids from different countries and you know, for sure, there are questions.”
"Yeah, it’s hard, you know," Rhett responded. "Because you think when you become a parent you’re like, 'Well, I’m a dad. I have all the answers.' You know?"
Rhett said that while he believes adoption is "the most beautiful thing in the world," parents who choose to adopt don't usually consider the questions that often arise five or six years later, when their children are old enough to ask about how families are created.
"Really intense questions, you know?" he continued. "I don't know if you've felt this at all, but it's kind of like, 'Well, what age? What age is the right age?'"
Rhett says that he's "old school," and doesn't know if having a conversation about adoption with a 6-year-old is appropriate.
"Maybe we need to wait until she's 10, you know what I mean?" he explained. "But she has questions all the time. She talks to Lauren, she's like, 'When can we get to see my friends in Uganda?' And then Ada James will be like, '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.'"
The award-winning country music artist explained that he loves his children’s innocence, and doesn’t want it “tainted by the world yet.” He knows his kids haven't been “jaded by the world," he said, so in his “parent brain” he thinks, “Well, how do I keep this innocence alive as long as I possibly can?”
Rhett then asked Hoda for any advice she may have, as a mother of two adopted daughters.
"Kids are funny, even about everything," Hoda explained. "Like even Haley will hold my skin up to her skin. 'Am I darker than you, Mama? What about Hopey? Is she darker than me?'"
Hoda said it's interesting, and that her family tries to "make jokes about it."
"But you want to preserve where they're from," she said. "So they remember, because I feel like you don't know your identity, how are you going to live your life?"
"You've got to figure out a way to navigate," she added.
Rhett revealed that his family of six is considering adding to their brood by adopting another child.
"Lauren's whole dream, she wanted to have five kids," he explained. "Since the day we got married, she’s like, 'I want to have five,' and I’m sitting there going, 'That’s fine, you know, that would be great.'"
Rhett said the couple have contemplated the various phases of life their children are in, and are having a difficult time figuring out how they would be able to spend an adequate amount of time with each one of their children.
"So I told Lauren, let’s have five but let’s take a four-year deep breath."
"Yeah, exactly," Hoda replied. "She'll get her five eventually." Related: