When Rory Feek's wife, Joey Feek, passed away in 2016 from cervical cancer, their daughter, Indiana, was only 2 years old. Since then, Feek has been raising Indiana, who has Down Syndrome, as a single father, although he praises the women around him, including his own sisters and daughters, who help him parent the little girl.
"We've settled into a really wonderful life. Both of my sisters live on the farm with us," Feek told PEOPLE, adding that his daughter, Hopie, lives nearby, and Heidi lives in Alabama. "Most little girls have a mother. Indiana has a lot of mothers."
Feek's sisters and daughters praise Feek, often, for how well he takes care of his youngest daughter.
"The first thing is, they tell me I'm a good father and that means a lot to me. I think they watch and they know my intentions and they know the work that I do and the time that I spend," Feek said. "They want to help where they can help. Last night, my sister Marcy invited us over for dinner and I was like, 'I shouldn't come over.'
"We were over to her house the night before for dinner," he continued. "I was like, 'I didn't want to come over tonight.' And she's like, 'That's what this is for. You know that's what this is for, right? That's why we're here. This is what we do. That's the whole point.'"
Feek also raised Hopie and Heidi as a single dad, never imagining he would do it again, let alone to a child with extra challenges, but the singer-songwriter insists there is no difference in how he parents her.
"My experience raising Indiana is no different than raising Heidi and Hopie," Feek insisted. "Really, it's the same. And the thing is, she doesn't suspect that there's anything different about her. She has no thought in the world."
Even though his two oldest children don't live on the farm, they are still very present in their little sister's life as well.
"My older girls, they want to help," Feek boasted. "'What can I do to help you, Dad? What can I do to help the baby?' I think that's a really special thing, just to be surrounded by so much love and encouragement with your family and your extended family too."
In the four years since Joey died, Feek has learned plenty about raising a child with special needs like Indiana, and is full of optimism about her future.
"I think she can be whatever she wants to be, and Joey and I did not know that," Feek acknowledged. "She just needs love, just like everybody else."
Feek might have been worried about Indiana's future in the past, but now he feels nothing but gratitude for the child he gets to raise.
"I used to look at Joey and think, 'How in the world did I get this lucky?'" Feek reflected. "This morning Indy climbed in bed with me and she was ready to get up and I was not ready to get up yet. I just held her and the sun was coming in and she fell sound asleep. By then I'm wide awake and I just looked at her and I thought, 'How in the world did I get so lucky to be with such a pretty, sweet, wonderful little one?'"
Photo Credit: Getty / Jason Kempin