A family featured on reality TV show "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" has been accused of using their adoptive children for money, after giving the five children back to separate group homes when their small house was renovated into an eight-bedroom mansion.
ABC's "Extreme Makeover" aired for nine seasons and focused on helping families in need by renovating their homes, WFXT reports.
The “Friday Family" from Lincolnton, North Carolina, was featured in 2011. Devonda and James Friday had seven children at the time of the show, five of whom had just been adopted. Two of the children, Kamaya and Chris Friday, have spoken out about the experience now that they are no longer minors.
"It was exciting. We got in a limo and were just riding up and then hearing, ‘Move that bus,' and then seeing this big house. It was fun," said Kamaya, who was 14 when the show was filmed.
The five children, who were siblings, even changed their name to Friday because they thought they had found a permanent family, reports WSOC.
"I felt like they were my mom and dad. I loved them like they were my real parents. I did," said Chris, Kamaya’s brother. "I just felt like I was home."
But Chris and Kamaya said everything changed after the TV cameras left.
Chris was reportedly sent to a group home for a “bad attitude” just months after the show. Kamaya was sent to a different group home shortly after. Within a year, the siblings report all five adoptees were no longer living in the house.
"Why did I have to leave? I just didn't understand it,” Chris said. “And it made me feel not wanted, you know?"
"My brother and sisters were 5 years old. How can they get that much trouble where they have to kick them out?" He asked.
Kamaya and Chris speculate the parents may have had ulterior motives for welcoming the siblings into their home.
“I know it was all about the money ... from the first day, it was all about the money,” Kamaya said.
The Fridays run a nonprofit organization called House of Hope. The show gave the charity a storefront for the Fridays to operate, in addition to thousands of dollars of donated items, including Sears gift cards.
“It was supposed to be a nonprofit store. [Devonda] was supposed to put things inside the store, but it was used for her use,” Kamaya said of the gift cards.
The House of Hope storefront is no longer in operation, but the Friday home’s value has nearly doubled since the show’s taping in 2011.
Chris said Devonda has upgraded her minivan to a Mercedes Benz convertible.
James denied allegations that the children were "kicked out of the home" in a phone interview, and reported the Department of Social Services were responsible for the kids’ relocation.
He also denied Devonda’s use of the Sears gift cards for personal items, claiming the accusations were “ridiculous.”
There was a family court hearing in 2015 about the children in which the siblings were not returned to the Friday family, but those court records are sealed.
“You leave these kids’ life for a whole year, then try to come back a year later and want them back? It doesn’t work like that,” Kamaya said of the judge’s ruling.
The Friday children, including one set of twins, are currently divided into five separate group homes. The Friday’s charity House of Hope is still in operation, and claims to be doing good for the community.