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Hoda Kotb Will Raise Daughter Haley Joy with Longtime Boyfriend Joel Schiffman

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After cancer left her unable to have a child, Today’s Hoda Kotb opens up about the emotional road to adopting her daughter. Subscribe now for the exclusive interview – only in PEOPLE!

As Hoda Kotb settles into her new life of motherhood, she won’t be doing it alone: her longtime boyfriend, Joel Schiffman, will be right by her side.

Last year, as Kotb began making arrangements to move in with the 58-year-old financier she had been dating for three years, she decided to bring up the idea of adopting together.

“I was afraid to even say it out loud, because then it felt so real,” she admits in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “I said, ‘Think about it for a day or a week or whatever.’ And he said, ‘I don’t need a day. Let’s get this journey going.’ At that point I blubbered like a baby. It was like the dam burst.”

Brian Doben

For more on Hoda Kotb’s emotional adoption journey, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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She then began the process of applying for a domestic adoption using a licensed New York agency. Though she filed the paperwork solo — leaving Schiffman off the documents in order to simplify the process — Kotb reveals that there’s no question about it, “Haley will call him Dad.”

Within a matter of months, Kotb, 52, received the call that would forever change her life. She then jumped on the plane alongside a close girlfriend of hers and the pair flew to another U.S. city to pick up daughter Haley Joy, who was born on Valentine’s Day.

Brian Doben

As for Schiffman, who has a 23-year-old daughter, Kyle, from his previous marriage, he has not disappointed when it comes to parenting the newborn.

“[He] has been so great,” Kotb gushes. “He’s such a great dad and a great influence.” 

—With Brittany King