The Today Show anchor Hoda Kotb received heartbreaking news when she was told that after recovering from breast cancer, she was no longer able to conceive children. But she wasn't going to let that stop her from having the happy family she had always dreamed of. After years of co-anchoring NBC's morning show as well as the Fourth Hour, Kotb knew that it was the right time for her to focus on expanding her family.
Kotb and her boyfriend, Joel Schiffman, first went public with their relationship in 2015, though they had already been quietly dating for a couple of years by then. Despite Schiffman already having his own adult daughter from a previous relationship, he was incredibly supportive of Kotb's desire to adopt.
"I had thought about having kids for a long, long time," Kotb explained. "But one day I was sitting with my boyfriend and I said to him, 'I'm going to have to talk to you about something because I can't push it down anymore, push it away,' " she said.
"I said, 'Don't answer now. Take a day, take a week, take some time. But I want to talk to you about this.' And he said, 'Okay, what is it?' And I said, 'I would like to explore adoption with you.' "
Schiffman didn't hesitate and the couple adopted their first child together in 2017, Haley Joy, named after Halley's comet. Haley was born on Valentine's Day, just a couple of months before Kotb could finally enjoy her very first Mother's Day at the age of 52. Haley was immediately a big hit with the other Today Show anchors as well -- Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie and Jenna Bush Hager.
"The idea of Haley existing, and me being a mom and me sitting at this table with you guys?" she said. "Am I supposed to be at this table? It feels a little weird. I can't believe the greatest joy of my life came at 52."
When asked on The Ellen DeGeneres Show if she and her longtime boyfriend would ever get married, Kotb didn't really see a rush. They had moved in together a year before Haley was born and they were enjoying co-parenting.
"Maybe, we might," the Today co-anchor said. "I feel like everything's great. He's Haley's dad. I'm Haley's mom. We're together. I feel like there's not a rush other than we're old, and we probably, if we're going to do it, we might as well do it. But I think it's fun like this. I don't mind it. ... We're enjoying our lives. Yeah, I think we're good this way."
In 2019, Kotb brought home a second baby girl, Hope Catherine. Even early on, her two girls have formed a special bond.
"It's really cool," Kotb told People. "Haley, when she opens her eyes, the first thing she says to me is, 'I want to kiss baby Hope.' And whenever Hope's crying, she's like, 'Don't worry, Hope! I'm coming!' ... This is a moment in time that I'm trying to freeze."
Despite Hope having her first birthday during the coronavirus pandemic, Kotb and Schiffman still tried to make the day special. They held a Zoom birthday party that included family members from all over the world. Two children later, Schiffman has now become Kotb's fiancé Joel Schiffman. Though their wedding was supposed to be held last November, one year after the big proposal, the happy couple is hoping to hold their nuptials next year.
They are also entertaining the idea of bringing home a third child. In fact, Kotb told ET that they have already filled out the paperwork.
"You know what, Joel and I have had this conversation because -- you feel like you get a limited of time on earth and your heart expands, and sometimes you don't realize your heart's ability to expand until you've filled [it] and sometimes you think you're at the top, and then you realize that there's more room," she says.
"And we wondered, you know, would our family be better with another child? Do we have enough love, do we have enough time, you know, will we be a better family unit? And the answer to all those questions seems to be 'yes, we would be.'"