Kathy Lee and Hoda put a spotlight on how adoption can change so many lives in a positive way and just how you can show your support on this World Adoption Day.
This past Valentine’s Day, Hoda Kotb received the best present her heart could have ever wanted. Kotb, age 52, became a mother to Haley Joy through an adoption. Just a few days after her daughter was born and the adoption was complete, Kotb shared the news with her very surprised, but overjoyed co-workers. Kotb phoned in live to the show and said, “She is the love of my life!”
Today she took her seat alongside her best gal pal, Katy Lee Gifford to discuss how much this decision has changed her life for the better. She is reflecting today because November 9th it is World Adoption Day and Kotb hopes that by sharing her story and the stories of a few of her famous friends, that more people will consider this option when looking to start a family.
WATCH: Hoda Kotb Loves Singing this Popular 'Sesame Street' Song to Her Daughter
In her 40s, Kotb was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not long after, her marriage ended in divorce. Although she recovered, her illness left her unable to have children. Suddenly Kotb was also without a partner to help her face these new realities. She recently opened up to PEOPLE about this time of struggle.
“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,” Kotb told PEOPLE.
She continued, “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.”
A decade later, Kotb is healthy, happy, and now with her beau, Joel Schiffman, and baby Haley Joy, she feels complete. Kotb has used her platform on TODAY to show people what adoption really looks like, and that for some families it really is the best option to make a family whole. She told Gifford (and the audience) about how, although Haley Joy is adopted, there is “not one ounce of me” that does not feel like she is Haley Joy’s mama.
"When you adopt a baby, although they may not be your flesh and blood, you feel that they're yours," she said emphatically.
“I was thinking about her life ahead. I know a lot of people worry when they adopt like what will happen when? I just feel like that’s part of what makes her so special and it’s awesome!”
Kotb also told PEOPLE, “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.”
In honor of World Adoption Day Kotb informed her audience that the symbol to honor this special day is a smiley face drawn on the palm of the hand. Live on air, TODAY sidekick Donna-dorable popped on set to draw the symbol on both Gifford and Kotb. Check it out.
Later in the show the TODAY team shared stories of others who’ve been positively changed by the power of adoption. Superman himself, Dean Cain, shared that he was adopted by his stepfather and it was his love that taught Cain how to be a father himself. Celebrity chef, Curtis Stone and his wife, actor Lindsay Price, opened up about knowing that if her mother had not been adopted, she wouldn’t be here today. Hear their stories here.
You can learn more about World Adoption Day here. To show your support, draw that smiley face on your palm and post your picture on social media with the hashtag #WorldAdoptionDay. Share your story.