Hoda Kotb’s Adoption Joy: ‘I’ve Always Wanted To Be A Mom’

New mom Hoda Kotb covers the latest issue of PEOPLE and opens up about adopting her newborn daughter Haley Joy.

On her adoption joy: “We just stayed in the apartment and ate and slept and burped and took naps, and that’s it. That’s all. But it’s fun! It’s one of those things where you think you’ve done it all, you think you’ve felt it all. But I just didn’t know that this kind of love existed.”

On her previous battle with breast cancer that left her unable to conceive: “One of the things in my life I’ve always wanted was to be a mom. Sometimes in your life, things just don’t work out for whatever reason, so you say, ‘Well, I wasn’t meant to have that.’ But it was really hard to come to terms with it.”

On privately always wanting kids: “There was a hole. People would say, ‘Oh, do you have kids?’ And I’d feel like, ‘Ouch.’ I knew inside it was supposed to be for me. One of the reasons was because I couldn’t have children. 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.”

On first discussing adopting with her boyfriend of three years Joel Schiffman: “I was afraid to even say it out loud, because then it felt so real. I said, ‘Think about it for a day or a week or whatever.’ And he said, ‘I don’t need a day. Let’s get this journey going.’ At that point I blubbered like a baby. It was like the dam burst.”

On adopting Haley as a single mom: “Haley will call him Dad… I wake up sometimes and go, ‘Oh my God, I have a baby!’ But it feels totally real. I guess if you’ve been waiting this long for something, and you wish for it, pray for it, hope for it, wonder if it will ever be, and then it happens, nothing’s more real. Nothing.”

For more from Hoda, go to PEOPLE

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