A North Carolina family that received a gleaming new home for their five foster kids, thanks to the hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, kicked the kids out once the cameras stopped rolling, WSOC-TV (Charlotte) is reporting.
For those not familiar with the show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition sends a team of designers and home builders, led by personality Ty Pennington, to families across the country, to construct (or renovate) homes for families in need. The formula usually involves families who have suffered some kind of tragedy, such as financial difficulties or natural disasters, and tends to focus on stories that tug at the heart strings. Families gifted by the show have included parents of disabled children, foster parents, or single mothers whose partners had died in war.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ’03-’12, ABC., Family facing hardship gets a surprise home makeover. Everything donated. pic.twitter.com/GEz4IyFQ9n
— Across Platforms (@AcrossPlatforms) November 10, 2016
The show generally pulls together the whole community to provide gifts to the family and share in their joy as their new home is revealed.
Back in 2012, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition visited the Friday family of Lincolnton, North Carolina, according to a press release from the time.
North Carolina foster parents who featured on ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ gave AWAY… https://t.co/3bXWufp3Va pic.twitter.com/V35fAc5KyT
— Walkileaks (@walkileaks) November 16, 2016
James and Devonda Friday had provided foster care for over 30 children over the course of their lives. At the time Ty Pennington and his crew rolled into town, the family was fostering five children from the same family. Until the Fridays stepped in, the siblings had been in separate foster homes. The Fridays took them in so they wouldn’t have to live separately.
Ty and his team eventually renovated the family’s existing home into a 3,900-square-foot mansion, big enough that each of the kids could have their own bedroom.
— Ghuganaut Ent (@GhuganautEnt) November 16, 2016
David Rice, the CEO of a local building company who helped the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team with some of the work, described how helping the Fridays impacted both him and the community.
“This was a truly moving experience for me personally. When I was young, my family lost everything in a house fire and I remember the community surrounding us with love and support which helped us get back on our feet. It’s a core belief of our company to give back and it was awe-inspiring to see so many people give back to this one family in North Carolina.”
Once the cameras stopped rolling, however, things took a turn for the five kids in the Fridays’ care. Nearly four years after the episode originally aired, two of those former foster children, now adults, say that they were all kicked out of the home within a year.
Chris Friday, who had taken on his foster parents’ last name, says that within months, he was sent away to a group home because of a “bad attitude.” He was told it was going to be temporary — in fact, he was never allowed to return.
“Why did I have to leave? I just didn’t understand it. And it made me feel not wanted, you know?”
Not long afterward, Kamaya — who also took the Fridays’ name — was also sent away to a group home.
“You gave me away. Parents don’t do that. No.”
Within a year, the three younger siblings had all been sent away, too. Chris doesn’t understand how much trouble a 5-year-old could have caused.
He and Kamaya both believe that the Fridays used the kids’ plight to get money — and a new home — out of the show’s producers.
“I know it was all about the money. From the first day, it was all about the money.”
For his part, James Friday denies that he and his wife suckered Extreme Makeover: Home Edition into giving them a new home and then kicking the foster kids to the curb, according to Fox News. He claims that North Carolina’s Department of Social Services (DSS) intervened in the kids’ care.
“Listen, no one kicked Chris or Kamaya out of the home. That’s a DSS and social service matter.”
WSOC tried to verify James’ claims, but because such case files are sealed from the media, there was no way to corroborate his side of the story.
Chris and Kamaya, meanwhile, have changed their names back to their original. Their three siblings remain living apart with separate foster families.
Neither ABC nor anyone associated with the production of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has responded to requests for comment about this story.
[Featured Image by B Brown/Shutterstock]