Hoda Kotb has reflected on the life-changing moment she realized she had to become a mom, saying she feared her dreams of adoption would put an end to her relationship with her fiancé Joel Schiffman.
The Today co-anchor, 57, opened up about her path to adopting her daughters Haley Joy, four, and Hope Catherine, two, with Joel, 63, during her appearance on People’s new podcast ‘Me Becoming Mom.’
‘I was actually with a girlfriend and we were walking down a street and I remember it like it was yesterday,’ she recalled. ‘…Because I had never shared it with anyone that I had wanted — I still yearned for [children] because it seemed like wanting to go to the moon, it’s not happening, so don’t even bring it up.’
Candid: Hoda Kotb, 57, opened up about her path to motherhood during her appearance on People’s new podcast ‘Me Becoming Mom’
True love: The Today co-anchor admitted she was ‘terrified’ of how her partner Joel Schiffman would react to her wanting to adopt a child, saying it could have ended their relationship
Hoda said she broke down after her friend noted that neither one of them had ‘really wanted to have children.’
‘I looked at her and I said, “Well, I do.” I didn’t say did, I said I do. She looked at me and she goes, “What?” I started crying. I said, “I do. I do.” I said it out loud, “I do.”‘
The journalist was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 42 years old and came out of treatment unable to conceive. She believed for a long time that motherhood just wasn’t in the cards for her.
‘It was so weird. It was an everyday moment that turned into an epiphany and I had never spoken it,’ she explained, noting that saying ‘it out loud’ was what made her realize that she had to become a mother.
‘I was like, “Oh my God, I do want to have children, right now. Here in my current state,”‘ she recalled.
Hoda admitted that she was afraid to tell Joel. The couple had just moved in together the year before, and she feared the conversation would lead to the end of their relationship.
‘I was terrified,’ she shared. ‘”How am I going to say this?” I don’t know his reaction. I think what I was probably the most scared of was that I knew I was going to do it anyway.’
Epiphany: Hoda, who is mom to daughters Haley, four, and Hope, two, said it wasn’t until she had a conversation with her friend about children that she realized she needed to be a mom
Happy ending: The mother of two said she ‘fell on [Joel’s] chest and was sobbing’ when he immediately agreed to start a family with her
The Today co-anchor said her ‘heart was pounding’ and she was ‘sweaty’ when she finally broached the topic with her longtime partner, who has a 27-year-old daughter Kyle from a previous relationship.
‘I said to him, “Joel, I have to ask you something. I haven’t been sleeping well lately because it’s been weighing on me and I can’t carry it anymore. So I’m going to say something to you and I don’t want you to answer me right now. I want you to sit with it and take your time. Don’t answer. Just take a week, take as long as you need,”‘ she recalled. ‘And he was like, “What is she going to tell me?”‘
‘I looked him in the eye and I said, “I would like to explore adoption with you.” And there was like a second in there, I was like, “This is the end of a relationship or the beginning of a family.” This is happening in a snap, in an instant,’ she explained
Hoda was overcome with emotion when Joel revealed without hesitation that he wanted to start a family with her.
‘My heart was pounding and he just looked at me and he said, “I don’t need a week,”‘ she shared. ‘In that moment, I fell on his chest and was sobbing. He said, “I didn’t know you were carrying that.”
‘I knew in that moment I chose right because it was the thing that would make me the happiest on earth.’
‘He made all the decisions so easy and clear,’ she added. ‘I said, “I chose right. I chose a man who chose my happiness over his convenience maybe in that moment.”‘
Journey to motherhood: Hoda was 52 years old when she and Joel adopted Haley (pictured) in February 2017, making her a mom for the first time
Party of four: Two years later, they welcomed Hope (pictured) in April 2019
Hoda was 52 years old when she and Joel adopted Haley in February 2017, making her a mom for the first time. Two years later, they welcomed Hope in April 2019.
Joel proposed to Hoda during a romantic Mexican getaway in 2019, but they had to postpone their wedding twice so far due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the podcast, the mother of two also revealed that she has already told Haley and Hope that they are adopted.
‘I tell them they were adopted, and I’m not sure if they 100 percent know what that means,’ she said. ‘I always say, “You didn’t come from Mommy’s tummy, you came from my heart.” And they understand that.
‘They said, “Did a baby ever come from your tummy?” And I said, “No. It didn’t.” And [my daughter] said, “Okay, I’m adopted.” They say that all the time.’
Hoda plans on having a deeper conversation with them about their adoptions when they are older and have a better understanding of the concept.
‘We haven’t had the big discussions about it, because I think that is to come. But in this moment, they know that they are adopted,’ she explained.
Aww: ‘I chose a man who chose my happiness over his convenience,’ Hoda said of Joel
Cute: Hoda also revealed that Hope and Haley know they’re adopted. She likes to remind them their cousin Ella (second from right) is also adopted, saying ‘All the cool kids were adopted’
‘I tell them how cool it is. I tell them that their cousin Ella was adopted and, you know, “All the cool kids were adopted” — they get such a kick out of that.’
Hoda has also been candid about her desire to expand her family and adopt a third child. Last November, she confirmed on The Drew Barrymore Show that she and Joel had completed the paperwork to start the adoption process.
‘You know what’s funny? I don’t know why I said that — even though it’s true,’ Hoda told DailyMail.com at the time. ‘It was one of those moments where you’re having a vulnerable moment and you’re like, “Yeah, I did do that.”‘
While she didn’t intend to go public with the news, she also didn’t regret being open about her wish to have another child.
‘Sometimes I do think speaking something out loud sort of wills it into existence, weirdly,’ Hoda said. ‘You know, it’s almost like if you have a secret desire or dream you can even just whisper it. And if you do, there’s a chance you’re just giving it validity.
‘And, [then] again, you don’t want to say something out loud because what if it doesn’t happen,’ she added.
‘We don’t know what will happen. I mean, we hope, we pray, we want it to, and we feel like we have enough love and room. You know, so far, our family is just getting better.’