For more on Hoda Kotb's new life as a mom of two, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

By Charlotte Triggs and Jen Juneau
May 02, 2019 08:00 AM

At the young age of 2, Haley Joy already has being a big sister down to a science.

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, Hoda Kotb poses for the cover with daughters Haley and newborn Hope Catherine, where she praises her older child for remembering to think of her baby sister at a time Kotb had a little bit of a new-mom fog going on.

“She’s protective,” the Today co-anchor, 54, says of Haley. “Hope was downstairs in the bassinet, in the living room, and … two people [were] coming to visit. I said to Haley, ‘Let’s go the elevator,’ because that’s our thing, running the elevator. She goes, ‘Okay,’ so we’re running downstairs.”

“So literally, she said, ‘Okay, bye-bye Hope.’ I go, ‘Oh, we can’t go to the elevators. … Hope is here.’ How did Haley know?” Kotb adds. “You forget, you don’t realize, because you remember your life. You’re like, ‘Oh wait, there’s another [child]. You can’t leave. Okay.’ ”

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Parents newsletter.

Hoda Kotb with daughters Hope and Haley
| Credit: Hoda Kotb/Instagram
Hoda Kotb with daughters Haley and Hope
| Credit: Brian Doben

In February 2017, Kotb revealed she had adopted Haley after the baby girl was born on Valentine’s Day that year. In 2007, the star battled breast cancer, leaving her unable to conceive. She even told PEOPLE in 2017 that she thought she would never be a mother.

But fortunately, that was far from the case. Just over two years after welcoming Haley, Kotb announced she had adopted her new baby girl in a phone call during the April 16 episode of Today.

The outlet shared a photo of the longtime television journalist holding her new addition, with Haley standing next to her mama and new little sister with a big smile on her face.

“It’s a girl! And her name is Hope!” Kotb could be heard saying through tears over the phone as her fellow Today personalities wiped their eyes.

Hoda Kotb covers PEOPLE with daughters Hope and Haley
| Credit: Brian Doben

RELATED VIDEO: Al Roker Meets Hoda Kotb’s New Daughter and Calls Her “The Reason I Can’t Stop Smiling”

But does Hope complete Kotb and boyfriend Joel Schiffman‘s family? The mother of two can’t say for sure, but she reveals to PEOPLE now that she would “never close a door, ever, ever,” on welcoming more children.

“When I talked to [Joel] about two, I said, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you about something.’ I said, ‘I really feel like [Haley] should have a sibling … just to go through life with. It’s a long life she’s going to live.’ I want her to say, ‘That’s my brother, that’s my sister.’ ”

Schiffman’s response? As Kotb recalls, “He said, ‘What took you so long?’ ”

For more on Hoda Kotb’s new life as a mom of two, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.