' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Hoda Kotb adopts again--

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Hoda Kotb adopts again--

Hoda Kotb of the Today show adopted again. I caught the end of the reveal on Today this morning, and all the women sitting around the table had tears in their eyes, and an indication that they guys did too. Later, the after Today Show, the Hoda and Jenna Show did another spot, this time with Samantha Guthrie and Jenna Bush--since Hoda is taking some time off--which I caught in replay.

So many tears, a box of tissue drops from above on the set so the women can wipe their tears away. Samantha says they need to go to Costco and buy a carton! Hoda on the phone is talking about love and hope and how much she wanted a second child. Hope Hope Hope, she put it out in the universe (and apparently in a book) that she wanted a second child to adopt, and now she is naming her Hope. Samantha says, now you have a family of four--now her family is complete. More tears. Hoda repeats how she hoped and dreamed and prayed for a second child.... Everybody on the show knows how much she wanted this baby, a second baby to adopt, and the set is overflowing with love for Hoda--who does exude a warm, inviting persona--and the joy because of this child....
A man finds his original
family through DNA

I can't help but turn it around, how Hoda was hoping and praying a woman would come along for her who could not keep her baby because of poverty, most likely. That adoption was her answer to "complete her family." Can't I just feel joy for Hoda, and not think about the other woman who just gave birth? No, I can't. I am the other mother, and to double down on this, my daughter's birthday was a little more than a week ago, she was born on the Tuesday before Easter, and Easter is Sunday, she is in my head more than usual. 

Out there it is not unlikely that the mother of the child is also watching. She is weeping too, but not with tears of joy, but with the soul crushing tears of having just given birth and then given up her child because she could not keep her. Hope came through an adoption agency and she, Hoda, was waiting for the call, now she is bursting with love. The baby is the answer to her prayers, it was up to God if it was going to happen. Yes, I can't help myself, God picked out a woman to be the mother of your baby is what I hear.

Hoda is 54. She has a partner, so there is a daddy too. Certainly with her schedule and income, she has all the help she needs, and the girls will be given a good, rich home. I don't hate Hoda, her joy is certainly real. I want to believe she will be a good mother--a good adoptive mother who understands the issues of being given up that any adoption means. For on some level, adoption is always sad.

Birth is so different today from my times, when it wasn't so difficult to get pregnant, when chemicals didn't raise the specter of infertility, when women--and men--didn't wait forever to have a child to the point where it becomes problematic. Hoda is old enough to be a grandmother. Hoda does address the age issue, saying that she will be not around forever to watch over the other child, Haley, and now that they will be sisters, Haley will have someone to watch her live her life, and the implication is, be as close to her, Haley, as Hoda's sister is to her. Maybe, I think. Maybe they will be close. It is not a given. 

I have no idea how Hoda is about the reality of adoption for the adopted, or if these are open adoptions, or what the stories of the girls' natural mothers are.  Hoda says at some point that she tells Haley that she didn't come from Mommy's tummy, but then the girl says "Her" but there is no explanation of what she means. Haley is only two, so she is not really aware of what any of this means yet. 

There will always be adoptions. Not all mothers can keep and nourish their babies. But celebrations of celebrity adopters, no matter how likeable they are, encourage more adoptions and that puts pressure on the adoption machinery to produce more babies for adoption, instead of finding ways to allow mothers keep and raise their own children.--lorraine
Why I'm not bullish on celebrity adoptions

Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA
By Richard Hill

I enjoyed this book so very much. It told a good story and yet shared some great information regarding research into ancestry. I found myself highlighting so many passages that will aid me in my look into my past. However, my excitement is peaked over all the info regarding the research for an adopted child. My 13 year old granddaughter is adopted and her birth mother was also adopted. We know who my granddaughter's birth mother is but we know nothing about the birth father. We have no information on the birth mother's birth family...but now I feel that we have a starting spot. This research into her birth ancestry will be a great gift for my granddaughter. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction!


  1. There is never an adoption that I am privy to that does not immediately cause me to think of the actual mother of this baby. I always want to know more; the where, when, how, who of it all. At times, it makes me a little crazy. Babies are perfect commodities for the infertile women of means that may or may not have partners - along with their false sense of security and illusion of certainty and permanence for their relationship with their partners, if there is one. Expecting that this child from another woman's body will switch easily into their lives. As we know this is often cognitive dissonance. Hoda, I pray for these children that it all works out, and that your health and years hold up, that is, at least, until they are on their own. Lorraine, my heart goes out to you for your grief at Easter time for your beautiful daughter. Blessings to you for sharing and helping us heal as best we can from a lifetime of sorrow. Peace

    1. Thank you, Ms. Dervish. The great different between the sorrow of losing a child to adoption and losing a child to death is that you are allowed to grieve, you have support and understanding for your grief. Give up a child--at least in the old days and I don't know how much that has changed today--and you are expected to go about your business as if...it did not happen. Perhaps by this silence, people really do comprehend how completely awful it is to lose a child this way. Thank you for that last sentence. I am okay, it has been more than ten years since she died, and the sorrow is quiet within me. I found that in remembering my daughter, and her death, and what I was doing when she was born, etc., I found my thoughts come around to include the adoptive mother within my outer social circle who always insisted on checking anyone's language, including mine, if we referred to "my daughter." She always had to interject, "birth daughter." She has moved somewhat away, and at least I do not have to see her except on the rarest of occasions.

      Your blessing felt like a warm mental hug of compassion. <3

    2. Lorraine, the reality that a woman in your social circle would feel the need for you to refer to your daughter as birth daughter speaks directly to the cruelty and hypocrisy that underlies adoption of children who are not orphans. I am glad you don't have to endure this person often.

    3. Thanks, Debra. When I think about her I think what I'd actually like to say to her.

  2. Yes, it's been my experience that even other women don't realize the grief I and other first/birth mothers feel. All the tears of joy from the other women around Hoda, and apparently not a single tear for the natural mother! We have got to get the past the idea that adoption is a happy event, even when it looks good. And if Hoda is already 54, how many good years can she offer her children?

  3. As an adopted adult, I hate to hear of another adoption. I cannot see the good in it. A woman with the resources of a well paid celebrity can very well afford to help a vulnerable woman keep her infant, but she chooses not to.

    I can only see it as selfish grasping for another woman's child. I never see the beauty most people see.

  4. For 20 years, I have been talking with relatives and friends about all of my grandchildren, and writing about them in annual Christmas letters (and including photos). In these talks and letters, all of my grandchildren have names. A few days ago, a close relative asked me how many grandchildren I have. After 20 years of interactions with this relative, the question surprised me! I started to name them and she finished my sentence by saying, "and the others," ( as though they didn't have names).
    The "others" she was referring to are the children of my first-born son. How hurtful to discover that, in her mind, my first son's children are "the others." It's a lack of validation that all my grandchildren share the same amount of my DNA. They are all, equally, my grandchildren and they all deserve to have names, and to have their names remembered -- just as i remember the names of other people's grandchildren.
    None of my children or grandchildren are so insignificant that I simply refer to them as "the others."
    We are reminded of the trauma of adoption loss when a close family member refers to one's grandchildren as "the others." We are reminded of adoption trauma when a mother refers to her daughter, and then an adoptive mother corrects her language to say "birth daughter."

    1. I am glad to hear that you consider all of your grandchildren, to be your grandchildren. My father, and his family informed me that I am just a DNA relative. My children, and myself do not count as relatives.

      My mother told me her kept son's son should not call me "aunt" because that's just for family.

      When I did 23 and me, my father and his daughters came up as matches. Did not say he was by birth, or bio anything. Just said he was my father. Just DNA....how could they say that?


    2. When you were born, you did not choose to be excluded from your first family! Labeling you as only a DNA relative is ignorant as well as very hurtful. It is your right to have the word aunt in front of your given name because that is what you are and others should not deny the truth.

      Furthermore, it seems your relatives are trivializing the importance of DNA (when they stress that you are only a DNA relative). Why has genealogy become extremely important to millions of amateur genealogists? Why is there a knowledge explosion in the field of genetics? Because DNA is now considered more important than any time in history.

      Before the 1980s, a man could deny he was responsible for a pregnancy and no one could prove otherwise. With DNA analysis, society now must recognize that a woman does not "get herself pregnant." A man can no longer deny he fathered a child. Well, I suppose a modern-day excuse could be, "Well, you're just a DNA child."

      You are family, whether your family wants to admit it, or not. I ask: What do they have to gain by excluding you from their version of what family means? What have they got to lose by including you?

      (Occasionally, we learn of the opposite scenario, where an adopted person might say to a first family: I have my family...thank you very much...my family is my adoptive family. This might be a person who has anger and rejection issues.)

  5. I think what they have to lose, is their idea that they are good. They support my father, their brother. If he gave me away, then I needed to be given away, because he and my mother would have killed me.
    They are sure of this. They've told me this. Despite the fact they never killed anyone, before or since.

    I make them look bad, and they don't like it.

    1. When they said you needed to be given away because your mother and father would have killed you -- that sounds like a rationalization, that is, not something that really would have happened, but a made-up excuse to explain the attitudes and behavior of a family. It is sickening.

  6. Autumn, I am really distressed to read about your experiences of being so hurtfully minimized and excluded by your biological family. I am the adoptive mother of an almost 11-yr. old son, and I know he would be devastated if he experienced rejection by his first family members. He has a hard enough time dealing with being taken away from his family and being placed in foster care. We have been in contact with his sister for a few months now (she too is adopted - by a different family), and she recently expressed interest in an in-person meeting when she travels to our state in November. That is several months away, and I pray that she does not back out - it is practically all my son can think of, he is so over the moon excited.

    As for your post, Lorraine, I knew you would write about Hoda adopting again as soon as I read her announcement. The announcement made me immeasurably sad. I saw no joy in it whatsoever. The scene she described, of being in the room with Hope's mother as she gave birth, the coming home as a "complete" family of four.....all I could think of was how invasively we move babies from their roots, how unspoken the trauma of Hope's mother. And her circumstances, how desperate to cause her to place her baby with another - and was she manipulated? So many sad thoughts. I can only hope (pun intended) that as Hoda's daughters grow older, they do not feel the void my son feels, as an adoptee.

    1. Thank you, Jay, for writing your reality here. I hope it goes well for your son--and you.

    2. Thank you Jay. Your post really touched me. (Tears.) As a first mother, I have become so accustomed to having my experience minimized/ignored. That you are so sensitive to the experience of adoption is something I do not encounter often. I so hope your son can reconnect with his sister. I feel for him. I appreciate your understanding of his needs and wants.

    3. Dear Pauline,

      Please don't thank me. In the end, no matter what the circumstance, us adoptive parents win. We get to raise the children, your children. It is utterly outrageous to minimize your experience.

      As for our experience, I am feeling optimistic. I just (like minutes ago) got a text from my son's sister. She says she is so proud of her brother and cannot wait to meet him when she is on leave in November. It will bring me great joy just to see them in the same room together - I cannot wait. The plan is for my son and his sister to sit at a separate table from us adoptive parents at a restaurant, where they can hopefully talk without us interfering. My son more than anything wants to see his mom, and that's a bit more complicated as she is in and out of prison. His sister, who was adopted at the age of 7, has no desire to maintain contact with her mom but my son, who has experienced no negative interactions with his mom, wants to see her. Before we meet (if the meet happens, sure hope it does), I will tell my son's sister that he will probably ask a lot of questions about his mother because he desperately wants to know more about her.

      Fingers crossed that this reunion goes off as planned. Thanks for writing. I am in tears that you experienced the loss of a child and I hope I can help my son reduce some of the effects of his own loss.


    4. I hope everything goes well for your son, Jay. Sending positive thoughts your way as you navigate nuturing this new relationship.

      Not all first parents want to be involved in their child's lives even when given every opportunity. It is understandable that it is a very emotionally fraught situation to see your child but not be their active parent, but it is also hard for the child to experience that secondary rejection. Our open adoption has not been going very well, certainly not like we hoped, and it is very, very hard for our daughter. My only caution to you would be to be ready to support your son should the sister pull back from the relationship after meeting.

    5. Sorry to read what you wrote, Tiffany, about your open adoption not going well. I know this happens; it is so hard to maintain a relationship when the guilt is just overwhelming, and they may be other problems as well. I Know you are doing your best and we always appreciate hearing from you.

    6. Thank you, Lorraine. We are sure it is very hard for them, and there are definitely other complications involved which is what led to adoption in the first place. That has definitely played a role in our daughter being held at a distance by them and not fully welcome in their lives, something I don't think they are conscious of doing to her, but she feels and notices. I think they act out of natural self-preservation of their mental and emotional health, which like I said, is understandable. It just comes at the cost of having a relationship with their daughter and also causes her a lot of sadness and grief.

      Her parents are good and kind people who I know do not intend to hurt her.... I can only keep up on my end and hope that someday, the relationship can be there that my daughter wants. And that she will still want it when they are ready and not be over the hot/cold, lack of responses, and broken promises. Sigh. It is all very, very hard for her and them, and it makes my heart ache.

      A broken family is a tragedy, not something to be celebrated on a morning show, which ties back to your post. A baby is a blessing and deserves to be celebrated with joy and happiness because all human souls are deserving of that welcome to this earth. But when birth is combined with the dissolution of a family unit and the removal of a baby from her mother, that joy needs to be allowed to find space to exist in tandem with grief. The adoptive parents should be the ones to make space for those feelings since they are the only ones who are walking away with no losses. If I have learned anything as an adoptive parent, it is to make space for grief, always, and especially in the most joyous times because that is when loss rears its ugly head and can become a haunting presence.

    7. Good to hear from you, Tiffany, and thanks for the input and cautionary tips. I am so sorry to hear your open adoption is not going as well as you had hoped. Yes, I worry about my minor son's emotional welfare, so have been shepherding the process of initiating contact carefully. I first found his sister's social media accounts when she was 17. Given that she was still a minor, I did a little digging and found her adoptive parents' contact information and wrote to them. They both wrote back right away, saying that their daughter had been through multiple foster homes before they adopted her at the age of 7, that she still had a lot of issues with intimacy and that she didn't feel ready to correspond with our son. Our son was disappointed, but also understood that it had nothing to do with him. Later, when his sister turned 18, at my son's prompting, I contacted her directly. She also responded right away, but what she said mirrored what I had heard from her adoptive parents - that they had told her about her brother and that she wished him well. That was about 10 months ago, and every communication since then has been at her initiation - I have let her take the lead on this as I want to try and minimize the risk of disappointment for my son. The request to meet in November came from her too. I hope the meeting happens and I hope a relationship develops - but, as you say, this is not a given. "Let's see how things go" is how we've presented it to our son. We are also reading up on how to nurture/support him through contacting and possibly (hopefully) establishing a relationship with his first family, including disappointments that might present themselves. It may not be easy, but he is so ready for some contact that we are willing to navigate it despite the risk of disappointment. Wish us luck, and thanks again for writing!

    8. Well, now you had me in tears by the end. Because you understand. I don't hate Hoda Kotb, she has an engaging, warm personality, but the way the adoption of a second child by a 54-year-old woman--I doubt her partner is actually on the adoption papers--was celebrated was difficult to take, knowing that every adoption starts with heart break. I've had to deal with friends adopting, as I've written, and I try to be...well, nice and not around that much. And remind myself that the adoptee had nothing to do with it. Most of them don't have a chance of ever meeting their mothers, as they are from other countries. The kids grow up and kinda break my heart. But you are so much more understanding than the people I know in real life who adopted, save one single mother. She doesn't follow the blog, but has read a lot of what I've written, including both memoirs and other writings. Others act as if what I have to say is...poison. I see how they have reacted to letters I've published. And these are smart, liberal people. Just not about adoption.

  7. I wondered about Hoda's joy and Hope as well? Assuming she has no further health problems she will be 74 when her daughter is 20. Will Hope be beginning college or caring for a sick mother. It seems a very selfish act now and I question couldn't Hoda have adopted when she was at least a decade younger? As a birth mother at 18, reunited 30 years ago, as well as a mother who has raised two homegrown biological children with their father, it is outrageous if Joel,(Hoda's husband) is not on the adoption papers! I assumed Savannah knew the sad back story of Hope's and all adoptions, but chose not to tarnish Hoda's day as she has a hard road ahead of her. I thought it was just letting her Savannah letting Hoda have her happiness while she could, to fortify her for the questions and obstacles that lay ahead. Though Savannah at times seems shallow, as a lawyer, reporter and mother one can assume she knows adoption is not the same as having one's own child, but rather a construct with duplicities and grief along with the joy. Babies are easy.... non speakers, no questions or opinions given. Jenna BH also seems a bit shallow. I believe that folks who have had a charmed life, with a lot of support, soulful, emotional and financial do not have to develop a deeper empathy or understanding. Luckily Hoda, who I do like, perhaps in part because she overcame cancer which left her infertile, has known grief and I wish all the best for her and her family. I thought Savannah's face showed some uncertainty....who knows fully what her tears were about, easier to shove doubt and fears away and focus on the happy part, she could hardly question anything on national TV without being seen as a pariah.



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