Bring back the bus!
A pair of foster kids who used to live with a North Carolina couple who were featured on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” claims their parents put on a show for the producers — and then kicked out all five of their adopted children once the cameras stopped rolling.
“What they did to us was just wrong,” explained Chris Friday, one of the youngsters who is now grown.
“[They] threw us all out,” he told WSOC Charlotte. “I know it was all about the money. From the first day, it was all about the money.”
In 2011, Devonda and James Friday, of Lincolnton, both made it on “Extreme Makeover” after producers learned of their seven kids and nonprofit organization called House of Hope.
Five of the children were adopted, including Chris and his biological sister Kamaya, who was 14 years old.
“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,” Kamaya recalled.
The “Friday Family” claimed they “desperately” needed the show to provide them with a new house, and to help them out with their nonprofit.
Producers ended up building them a House of Hope store and also renovated their small family home into a 3,900-square-foot, eight-bedroom mansion. They even footed the bill for thousands of dollars’ worth of donated items for their charity — including Sears gift cards.
“We made a vow to keep the family together,” James Friday told WSOC at the time.
Chris remembered Tuesday how he thought the clan would stay close forever.
“I felt like they were my mom and dad. I loved them like they were my real parents. I did,” he explained.
But everything changed as soon as the couple got their new digs, Chris said.
“I just didn’t understand it,” he said, recalling how Devonda and James sent the kids away just a few months after recording the episode, citing bad behavior.
“Why did I have to leave?” he asked. “It made me feel not wanted, you know?”
To make things worse, the children were sent to separate group homes.
“You gave me away,” fumed Kamaya. “Parents don’t do that.”
All five foster kids were sent away by the end of the year, Chris said.
“My brother and sisters were 5 years old,” he added. “How can they get that much trouble where they have to kick them out?”
Now that they are adults, the children all agree that their parents were ultimately driven by greed — especially Devonda.
“That’s all she’s about, money,” Kamaya said. “It’s money with her.”
The siblings also claim the Fridays eventually stopped operating out of their House of Hope store.
“It was supposed to be a nonprofit store,” Kamaya said. “[Devonda] was supposed to put things inside the store. But it was used for her use.”
The couple also allegedly used the Sears gift cards on themselves.
“She would tell me don’t worry about it,” Chris recalled Devonda saying when he would ask what the cards were being used for.
While the Fridays’ nonprofit store currently sits empty, WSOC reports that the couple still lives in the “Extreme Makeover” house. Property records obtained by the outlet show that its value has more than doubled since their episode aired.
The Fridays went on the defensive Tuesday when reached by phone, claiming the kids wanted to leave.
“Listen, no one kicked Chris or Kamaya out of the home,” James said, adding that the Department of Social Services was involved in the removal of the other three children.
“That’s a DSS and social service matter.”
When asked about the allegations that the couple used the Sears gift cards that were given to them by the show on themselves, James said: “That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous. We bought 200 pairs of shoes with those gift cards at Sears for a church uptown that was doing mission work. We’ve done no wrong.”
But Chris claimed the parents were well aware that they had messed up — and even tried to get them back in 2015.
“They went to court trying to get us all back, but I think it was about the money, too,” Chris told WSOC.
Kamaya added, “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. It doesn’t work like that.’”
While Chris and Kamaya both took their parents’ last name after they were adopted, they said they plan to eventually change it.
James and Devonda Friday told WSOC that House of Hope was still operating — and insisted that they continue to do good work for the community.