How Hoda Kotb's love for Haley Joy opened one mom's heart and changed her life

When celebrity chef Donatella Arpaia struggled to become pregnant, Hoda Kotb shared her adoption experience with her and it changed everything.
by Meghan Holohan / / Source: TODAY

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After having her son at 40, Donatella Arpaia struggled to become pregnant again. She underwent five rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) over five years with no success. Frustrated, she and husband, Allan Stewart, decided to stop and felt grateful for their amazing son, Alessadro. But then she had a conversation with Hoda Kotb that changed her thinking — and her future.

“I hadn’t expected that Hoda’s own happiness would open my heart,” Arpaia, 46, of New York City, told TODAY.

Donatella Arpaia
Donatella Arpaia believes that a conversation with Hoda Kotb opened her heart and allowed her to become pregnant.Courtesy of Donatella Arpaia

Last November, Arpaia, a celebrity chef, visited the TODAY Show. She was chatting with a producer about her pregnancy troubles when the producer suggested she talk with Hoda about adoption. Arpaia told Hoda she never considered adoption because she feared she would not love the child as much as she loves Alessandro.

“It was just one look from her,” Arpaia said. “She just looked at me and held my hand with a tear in her eye and she said, ‘Don’t worry. You will.’”

After that, Arpaia started researching adoption.

“That love felt so authentic and that opened my heart to adoption,” she said.

At the same time, she and Stewart tried one more round of IVF. But at 46, she felt it was nearly impossible for it to work. Then one morning Alessandro, 6, woke up and shared a story with his mom. He said he talked to God who told him that she would have twins and she’d name them Noah and Emma. Arpaia felt stunned.

“We had stopped talking about having children,” she said. “I didn’t want him to be disappointed anymore.”

When she pressed him on his dream, he maintained that God told him about the twins.

“I said ‘Alessandro, did you read a story at school? Where did this idea come from?’ He said ‘God.’ I said, ‘Where are these babies coming from?’ He said, ‘From your belly, Mommy,’” she recalled.

Donatella Arpaia's son Alessandro
Donatella Arpaia's son Alessandro told her that she would be pregnant with twins. Two months later she learned she was.Courtesy of Donatella Arpaia

Two months later, Arpaia took a pregnancy test and she felt shocked to see it was positive. Even more surprising? She was carrying twins.

“I told my son and he said, ‘I told you,’” she said, laughing.

But his prediction wasn’t exactly accurate. Doctors believe Arpaia's pregnant with two boys, though she recently received a call that the gender might be incorrect. It is possible she is pregnant with a boy and a girl.

“I still can’t believe it is possible,” she said.

The twins are due in the beginning of November and both mom and babies are healthy. Arpaia feels grateful that Hoda was so open with her. She feels like that conversation changed her attitude and helped her become pregnant.

“I think that if you are meant to have children there are souls out there that are meant to come to you whether they come from IVF or different means or adoption, once you open your heart they will come to you," she said.

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