Hoda Kotb didn't know if motherhood was in the cards for her after cancer left her unable to conceive. That was until last month when she brought home her newborn daughter, Haley Joy.
The Today show co-host shares with People magazine the emotional journey that led to her to adopt Haley -- who was born on Valentine’s Day and weighed in at 8 lbs., 8 oz. -- after years of thinking she'd never have a child of her own.
"One of the things in my life I’ve always wanted was to be a mom,” Kotb says. “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."
WATCH: See All the Clues Hoda Kotb Adopted and What Inspired Daughter Haley Joy’s Name
The 52-year-old TV personality admits that "there was a hole" in her life before Haley. "People would say, ‘Oh, do you have kids?’ And I’d feel like, ‘Ouch.’ I knew inside it was supposed to be for me,” she recalls, revealing that she even considered being a school teacher or running a summer camp. “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."
That's when Kotb approached her boyfriend, 58-year-old financier Joel Schiffman, about the possibility of her adopting a child. “I was afraid to even say it out loud, because then it felt so real,” she shares. “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.”
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While Schiffman’s name is not on the adoption papers -- the magazine says this was to "simplify the process" -- Kotb says, "Haley will call him dad."
Kotb is currently taking time off from the Today show to be with her newborn, and tells People that she can't believe how much her life has changed in such a short amount of time. “I wake up sometimes and go, ‘Oh my God, I have a baby!’ ” she exclaims. “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.
PHOTO: Al Roker Meeting Hoda Kotb’s Infant Daughter Haley Is Too Cute!
On Feb. 21, Kotb suprised Today show viewers when she revealed that she'd adopted a baby girl and shared a photo of her newborn. “That little girl, Haley Joy -- I’m crying -- is my daughter,” Kotb gushed when she called into the morning show. “I adopted her, and you can hear her, that’s her crying. She’s a Valentine’s baby. She’s a little nugget. She is the love of my life.”
Check out more of Kotb's emotional baby announcement: