Hoda Kotb is mother to Haley, five, and Hope, three. She adopted both girls with her former fiancé, Joel Schiffman. I missed that they’d split, but she announced in January that they’d decided to end their engagement and co-parent as friends. Hoda adopted her kids after breast cancer and treatment made her physically unable to bear them. When she was first diagnosed at the age of 42, her doctor said she could try freezing her eggs but her age was already working against any viable embryos. Hoda became reflective, wondering if she blown all her chances by not making different choices earlier. Then she adopted her girls and everything changed. Hoda said she wouldn’t have considered adopting if she hadn’t been in a solid relationship with Joel at the time. Now that they’ve split, she said the most important thing is to remember that kids pick up on everything we do and feel, so we have to know what messages we’re sending them.
On bonding with Sandra Bullock: I don’t think I would’ve adopted if it hadn’t been for Joel. Having a stable relationship in that moment was really important. Once that fell into place, it didn’t seem as scary to me. I also read about Sandra Bullock and the children she adopted. I’d always felt a weird connection to her, though I only knew her from the show. But she was my age, and I just thought, Wow, she’s really cool. I called her, and we talked. She said adopting was the most important thing she’d ever done. When I had made the decision to adopt and was on the plane to pick up my [first] daughter, I called her again. She said, “It’s about to begin!” Sometimes all you need is a model before [you realize], I can handle it.
On Mom Guilt: I do have some guilt, obviously. But at the same time, I want them to love work, because work is going to be part of their lives, and it’s cool and it’s exciting and Mom loves it. “You’re not pulling me away, and what I love more is coming home to you” — like, you try to make sure that they get both pieces of it. But it is [hard] … especially when you wait so long for something, you don’t want to miss a minute.
On balance:Some days I hit a home run; some days it’s all terrible, and then you reset the next day and try again. There’s no quick fix for balance that I can give. I mean, look, you try to give 100% at home and 100% at work, and then that’s it. And then you see how it shakes down, but I think that’s the best way to do it.
On kids intuition: Our kids sense every single thing we do, and they feel everything. They know if you’re being real and they know when you’re not. You have to really figure out who you are, because your kids are taking notes. Just be truthful and be true to yourself, and your kids are going to turn out just fine.
When CB and I were talking about this story, she reminded me that Sandra Bullock said something similar about kids picking up on our every emotion in her interview with CBS This Morning. Reading that Sandra become Hoda’s adoption buddy, I wonder how much they still discuss all of this. And if so, is that Mom Club accepting new members? Because finally – one I could hang with. Obviously Hoda was in a unique position to reach out to someone she’d only met professionally and discuss something so personal. I hope there are these kinds of resources for non-celebrities adopting (I’ve not been through the adoption process.) As for kids picking up on what those around them are feeling, it’s true. And it makes Hoda’s advice of “just be truthful” difficult sometimes. Because sometimes what’s weighing you down is more than the kids should have to handle. For me, it’s gotten much easier as they gotten older, because we can discuss things. And they are capable of letting me know how they are taking in the information that’s going on around them. When in doubt though, truthful is generally the best way to go. Especially when it works both ways.
I’m glad Hoda said she loves working and wants her girls to love working. I feel the same way and hope my kids see that too.
Photo credit: Instagram and Avalon Red