Rory Feek on What He’s Learned Raising a Child With Down Syndrome: ‘She Just Needs Love’
When Joey Feek — one half of country duo Joey + Rory — died of cancer in 2016, her husband Rory Feek became a single father for the second time to daughter Indiana, who has Down syndrome. But he says raising a daughter who has special needs is no different the two he raised previously.
Long before the couple's 6-year-old daughter, Indiana, came into the picture on Feb. 17, 2014, Feek was a single dad to two daughters from a previous relationship (now 33-year-old Heidi and Hopie, 31). He insists that Indiana's challenges and joys are very similar to that of her sisters.
"My experience raising Indiana is no different than raising Heidi and Hopie. Really, it's the same," Feek tells People. "And the thing is, she doesn’t suspect that there's anything different about her. She has no thought in the world."
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Feek chronicles his life raising Indy on his blog, This Life I Live, sharing many major life moments, like when she took her first steps to her front teeth falling out.
The country star started the blog in 2014, before Indy was born. He continued working on it as his wife battled cervical cancer, through her passing in March 2016 and beyond. In 2020, Rory and Indiana live on a 100-acre farm in Pottsville, Tenn. — the one they shared with Joey — and Rory's sisters, Marcy and Candy, live on either side of his farmhouse.
His two eldest daughters are frequent visitors and pitch in to help raise Indy. "Most little girls have a mother. Indiana has a lot of mothers," he says.
The Feeks learned of Indy's diagnosis at her birth. "During the pregnancy, we never did an ultrasound, or saw a doctor, nor would it have made any difference if we had. We trusted that God would give us the baby He wanted us to have ... and He has," Rory Feek said in 2014. "Out of all the parents in the world, He has chosen us to care for and raise this special gift."
As Indy grows along with her bright spirit, he's learned that the possibilities are endless for her. "Indiana’s smile lights up not just the room, but the world,” he says. "I think she can be whatever she wants to be, and Joey and I did not know that. She just needs love, just like everybody else."
Feek has adapted This Life I Live into a TV series that airs on RFD-TV on Sundays. He recently honored the four-year anniversary of his wife's death by sharing a solemn photo at her gravesite to Instagram.
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