When the North Carolina family was nominated for the ABC reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the parents spoke of their cramped house of seven children, including five they had just recently adopted.
The parents, James and Devonda Friday of Lincolnton, N.C., had taken in the five biological siblings and vowed to keep the family together, but they needed more space in their modest ranch home.
“We promised them to provide for them,” Devonda Friday said in an interview with a television crew for the show. “We desperately need you to come and help us.”
They were selected for the show, which built them a new 8-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot house in December 2011 for an episode that aired a year later.
Nearly five years later, two of the adopted Friday children are accusing the parents of kicking them out after the home makeover. The parents had given up or lost custody of all five of the adopted children less than a year after the show, the two children told local television station WSOC.
Chris Friday, then a teenager, was sent to a group home for a “bad attitude” a few months after recording the show, meaning he was out of the house by the time the show aired. He was told it was only temporary, he said in an interview with WSOC. “It made me feel like I was not wanted.”
A few months later, Kamaya Friday, who is now 19, was sent to a different group home, she told the news station. The other three adopted children, including twins who were 5 years old at the time, were moved out of the house within the year. The five siblings are now all in different homes.
Speaking to WSOC, James Friday, the father, said the two older children wanted to leave the house.
“Listen, no one kicked Chris or Kamaya out of the home,” James Friday said.
He said the other three adopted children moved out after the Department of Social Services got involved. He did not provide any additional explanation.
“That’s a DSS and social service matter,” James said. “We’ve done no wrong.”
During a family court hearing in 2015, Chris Friday said, the parents tried to “get us all back.”
“The judge he gets upset and is like, ‘You leave these kids life for a whole year, then try to come back a year later and say you want them back,” Kamaya Friday said. “It doesn’t work like that.”
At least one story published at the time of the airing of the reality TV show described the Friday family as “selfless.”
For nine years, Devonda Friday worked as an officer with the Lincolnton Police Department, until she was injured in 2005. The job exposed her to the effects of child abuse, and inspired her and her husband to become foster parents, the Charlotte Observer reported in 2012.
Over the course of 10 years, the parents fostered nearly 30 children, and in May 2010, they began providing temporary care for Chris, who was being transferred to a group home. Chris told the Fridays about his four biological siblings, who also needed a home. The parents decided to adopt all of them — the “Fab Five,” as they called the siblings.
“It was never a question of whether or not we would take all of them,” James Friday told the Charlotte Observer. “We promised Chris that he would be with his brothers and sisters.”
Initially, their request to adopt was turned down because of a lack of space in their home. The parents decided to sell their van to cover the cost of converting their carport into two additional bedrooms. In April 2011, they were given approval to adopt the children, who changed their last names to Friday.
After the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” host surprised the family with the news, the show staff sent them on a week-long vacation to Jamaica. When they returned, they joined a crowd of hundreds of volunteers, neighbors, friends and family in yelling out the show’s catchphrase, “Move that bus!,” as the two-story house was revealed.
“This is God’s work,” Devonda Friday told the Charlotte Observer. “You ask the Lord to provide and he does.”
Now that she is no longer living with the family, Kamaya Friday said she plans to change her last name.
“You gave me away,” she said. “Parents don’t do that.”
In retrospect, Chris Friday said, he knew “it was all about the money, from the first day.”
“I loved them like they were my real parents,” he said. “What they did to us was just wrong.”
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