“One of the things in my life I’ve always wanted was to be a mom.” – Hoda Kotb
Hoda Kotb is a big advocate for adoption. The TODAY anchor and her longtime partner, Joel Schiffman, are the proud parents of two children, both of whom they adopted. Hoda has openly shared her experience with adoption. Recently, she revealed that she and her family are considering becoming a “party of five” – you guessed it, through adoption!
Whether you already adore Hoda, or you are unfamiliar with her story, read on. Here, we highlight the beloved star’s emotional journey of becoming a parent – one she has openly shared with viewers – over the years.
A Struggle with Infertility
Back in 1998, Hoda Kotb became a prominent journalist when she landed a role as correspondent for NBC’s Dateline. In 2007, she became a household name when she joined Kathy Lee Gifford for the fourth hour of the TODAY show – better known as “Live with Kathy Lee and Hoda.”
The year 2007 was even more significant for Hoda personally, because that was the year she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The kind-hearted host underwent months of treatment and surgery. She later shared with viewers that her battle with cancer left her unable to conceive and carry a child. This was devastating news to Hoda, since she always dreamed of becoming a mother and raising a family.
Less than one year after her recovery, Hoda’s two-year marriage to tennis coach Burzis Kanga ended in divorce.
“Sometimes in your life, things just don’t work out for whatever reason, so you say, ‘Well, I wasn’t meant to have that.’” Hoda told People Magazine. “But it was really hard to come to terms with it.”
According to friends, Hoda never publicly discussed her longing to have children. Privately, though, “there was a hole,” she told People. “People would say, ‘Oh, do you have kids?’ And I’d feel like,‘Ouch,’ I knew inside it was supposed to be for me.”
While it was a painful void in her heart, she realized one day that she should take matters into her own hands.
“Finally I said to myself one day, ‘Why can’t I? Why not me? I had this ache in me that I couldn’t push away anymore.”
The Journey to (Haley) Joy
As Hoda started making plans to move in with Joel, her boyfriend of three years, she began to toy with the idea of adoption. Nervous to bring it up, Hoda finally asked Joel to give it some thought. He was immediately on board and told her: “Let’s get this journey going.”
Hoda worked with a licensed adoption agency based in New York. To simplify the process, she was the sole adoptive parent on the paperwork, although she has said that Joel is “dad.” Within a matter of months, she was flying to an undisclosed U.S. city to pick up her beautiful baby girl – Haley Joy – who was born on Valentine’s Day.
She described the first moment of meeting her daughter: “You’re standing in a room waiting, and somebody walks in holding your daughter. I was exploding in tears. I thought they were going to take her away and say, ‘No, we have hysterical freak here, get that baby back!”
When she recalls holding Haley Joy for the first time, Hoda, at 52, said, “It was like a puzzle piece that just snapped in. I felt it. It was as if she had been with me forever.”
That puzzle piece even inspired Hoda to write two children’s books. The first one, “I’ve Loved You Since Forever,” described by Hoda as “an ode to Haley Joy,” is about the love between a parent and child. The second book, “You Are My Happy,” was inspired by the bedtime book routine for Haley and Hoda. Both books went on to become #1 New York Times bestsellers.
More Hope for Hoda
The amazing adoption journey did not end with the beloved books. Two years after welcoming Haley Joy, Hoda surprised her co-hosts (and viewers) with the news that she had adopted a second baby. Hope Catherine made Haley a big sister, and turned the happy family of three into a family of four. Hoda surprised the world with her adoption announcement over a phone call live on the TODAY show, explaining that she had long hoped for a sibling for Haley Joy.
“I think having a sister to go through life with is so important,” Hoda said on air, “Joel and I are older parents. I wanted to make sure there was somebody to witness her life.”
The name Hope is certainly no coincidence. “The name came because there are a lot of women out there who are hoping that their day is coming too, and I know the feeling of it not happening for a long time,” she said.
Hoda’s life certainly looks different in 2020, with two toddler girls running around the house. Even though she and Joel have been planning to get married, and the global pandemic has put their plans on hold, the couple continues to talk about growing their family further.
“(We) have had many conversations about it: Can we? Yes. Will our family be better with it? Yes. Do we have enough love in the house? Yes,” she said. “All the answers seem to say yes. So I think then you just wait and see if it’s meant to be.”
If you are considering adoption or you would like to learn more about the process, contact Adoptions With Love. We would love to help you write your own adoption story. Contact us any time at 800-722-7731, text us at 617-777-0032, or contact us online.