Jillian Michaels Gets Emotional Talking About Leaving Daughter in Haiti Before Adoption Was Final

·2 min read
Jillian Michaels
Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels/Instagram

Jillian Michaels is looking back on her emotional journey of adopting daughter Lukensia.

The personal trainer, 47, opens up in a new episode of PEOPLE's podcast Me Becoming Mom about her experience with the adoption process and how difficult it was to leave her daughter in Haiti before the adoption was finalized.

"It was really hard on her," Michaels tells host Zoë Ruderman, Head of Digital at PEOPLE, of having to say goodbye to Lukensia in Haiti before the adoption had processed.

Asked whether Lukensia knew Michaels was her mom at that point, the Biggest Loser star answers affirmatively and explains that the pair had been spending a lot of time together in Haiti.

"The second time I went, she stayed with me at the guest house — they call it the guest house. So she wasn't in the orphanage," she says, beginning to cry. "So they kept telling her like, 'This is your mama, this is your mama.' And she was like, 'Rad, you're my mama.' She liked me right away."

Subscribe to our new 12-episode weekly podcast, Me Becoming Mom, to hear celebrity moms open up exclusively to PEOPLE about their extraordinary roads to motherhood.

RELATED: Jillian Michaels on Adopting Daughter from Haiti: I Had 'This Gift I Could Give … Citizenship'

"It must have been three or four days, I think, that she was with me 24/7," she says. "I'm feeding her and changing her diapers and holding her, she's sleeping in a bed with me."

Elsewhere in the episode, Michaels shares why she decided to adopt internationally and not in America.

"I always was cognizant of the fact that if I had been born in another country — my dad's Syrian, I knew what was going on in the world in Syria — if I had been born in Syria as a gay female, I'd be dead," she says.

celebrities who adopted
celebrities who adopted

Jillian Michaels/Instagram

"I knew that I had this card, this gift I could give, which is citizenship," she continues. "So I thought, you know what, I've got this awesome gift I can give and I want to adopt, so why not? I have the means. I have the time. I'm gonna do it."

The 12-episode weekly Me Becoming Mom podcast explores the various roads to motherhood through different interviews with both celebrity guests and experts in the field. Topics on the show include IVF, adoption, surrogacy, single parenthood, same-sex couples, home births, pregnancy loss, unexpected and surprising birth stories, among other subjects.

Guests on the show include Alyssa Milano, Hoda Kotb, Tamron Hall, Shawn Johnson East and more.