Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth opened up about adoption, her first children’s book, and engagement in her recent appearance on TODAY.
The 53-year-old Emmy and Tony award winner sat with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager to talk about her book, “What Will I Do with My Love Today?”
During the interview, Chenoweth also touched upon the beautiful story of her adoption as a baby.
“My dad always says ‘Man, did we win the lottery’ and I always say ‘No, I won the lottery,’” she said.
Chenoweth said her parents, Jerry and Junie Chenoweth, never kept her adoption a secret. In fact, she knew about it as a child.
“It was never a surprise,” the actress and singer explained. “They always said ‘The lady that had you in her belly could not take care of you the way she wanted to, and she loved you so much.’”
“This is what my mom said, ‘She gave you life, but we get to give you a life.’” she added.
Chenoweth said knowing her history has helped her become an empathetic person.
“I see pain in people, and I feel people when they feel abandoned and/or not seen,” she said. “I see that more and I think it’s because of my very beginning.”
Back in 2019, Kristi shared with Katie Couric the story of when she first met her birth mother, whom she described as an “incredible person.”
“When I met her she said, “Can you ever forgive me?” And I said, “Forgive you? You gave me life. And my parents Junie and Jerry gave me a life. The chance at a life.” And I’m so grateful for her,” she said.
After telling Hoda and Jenna about her adoption story, Chenoweth read a page from her just-released picture book, which is for children ages 4 to 8.
In this part, the main character, Kristi—who is also adopted—talks to her rescue dog:
“You see Thunder, families don’t all look the same, or talk like each other, or even have the same name.
“Extra love in your heart and your home is waiting for somebody who is all alone.
“No matter how life has brought us together, adoption means family, and family is forever.
“We had lots of love in our family before, but with you Thunder pup, we have even more.”
Like Kristi, the “Wicked” star also adopted a dog named Thunder in 2017, after her first beloved dog, a Maltese named Madeline, crossed the rainbow bridge.
“Thunder has been there for me, just like Maddie was,” she said. “She’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly from me, and loves me unconditionally.”
“What Will I Do with My Love Today?” tells the sweet tale of a young girl in New York City named Kristi Dawn, who shares her love by performing acts of kindness and generosity, including adopting a lonely dog.
“What I want parents to take away from it is the idea of your child having someone or something to take care of and love is a great prospect for them,” Chenoweth said.
“And what I want kids to take away from it is animals, just like humans, have so much love to give to them.”
In October 2021, Chenoweth got engaged to musician Josh Bryant, whom she first met in 2016 at her niece’s wedding when his band, Backroad Anthem, was hired to play.
Two years later, they met again when the band played at her nephew’s wedding. They hit it off and soon became a couple.
Watch Kristin Chenoweth’s fun interview with Hoda and Jenna in the video below.
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