Hoda Kotb surprised Today audiences on Tuesday when she announced she had welcomed a daughter — Haley Joy — through adoption.
“She’s a Valentine’s baby,” Kotb, 52, said, calling in to the NBC morning show to discuss the big news. “She is the love of my life.”
Calling back into the show’s fourth hour, which she normally co-hosts, Kotb explained the inspiration behind her daughter’s name — all while feeding Haley Joy!
“Haley is because of Halley’s Comet,” Kotb told a tearful Kathie Lee Gifford and Jenna Bush Hager, referencing the famous short-period comet — which is visible to the naked eye from Earth every 75 years.
“It was one of those things where I just picture her sailing through the sky.”
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The name was something Kotb discussed with her sister, Hala. “My sister and I were talking on the phone and she was saying, ‘You know, I’m Hala, you’re Hoda, our niece is Hana — what about Haley?’ ”
As for Haley’s middle name, Joy, that one is pretty self-explanatory.
“Joy just because she brings us joy,” Kotb said. “She’s got a beautiful way about her.”
Kotb — who moved in with her boyfriend, Joel Schiffman, last year — was previously married to former University of New Orleans tennis coach Burzis Kanga. The couple divorced in 2007 after two years of marriage and had no children.
But Kotb said she always wanted to be a mother. “You know how many times I walked down the street and one of the questions people always ask me is, ‘Oh do you have kids?’ ” Kotb remembered. “And I always say, ‘No, I don’t.’ And it’s one of those things where it’s kind of always a little bit of an ouch and an ache.”
That won’t happen anymore — though Kotb admitted it did happen just this week. “The other day I was walking down the street to get some cream for her, and someone asks, ‘Are you a mom?’ I couldn’t say it out loud for her, but in my head I was like, ‘I am a mom! I am!’ ” she joked.
“Can you believe I have a daughter?” she asked. “I didn’t know that my heart can feel like this. With all the love I’ve ever had in my life — I’ve had the love of a wonderful mom, a wonderful man, the best siblings — I never ever imagined that I could feel this kind of … it’s like a warm hand on my heart. She’s learning up against me and I’m over the moon.”
“This is a moment in my life I never thought would happen,” Kotb continued. “And here it is happening to me. Wow.”