by: Paul Boyd Updated:
Five years ago, a family from the Charlotte area was featured on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" -- a hit reality TV show that aired for nine seasons on ABC.
But new questions are being raised about the family after Channel 9 discovered that five adopted children featured on the broadcast are no longer in the home.
The popular show focused on helping families in need by renovating their home. Crowds would famously chant, "Move that bus," when it was time to reveal the renovation project.
The “Friday Family" from Lincolnton was featured in 2011. Devonda and James Friday had seven children. Five had just been adopted.
The broadcast included interviews with the parents.
"'Extreme Makeover,' we desperately need you," James Friday said at the time.
"We desperately need you to come and help us,” Devonda Friday said.
One of their adopted children was 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 said.
Channel 9 covered the story back then as the small family home was renovated into an eight bedroom mansion.
The five adopted children, who are biological siblings, even changed their last name to Friday. Kamaya and her brother, Chris, are now adults.
"I just felt like I was home," Chris said.
The children thought they had found a permanent family and the parents confirmed their commitment to the adopted children during the television broadcast.
"We made a vow to keep the family together," James Friday said.
"I felt like they were my mom and dad. I loved them like they were my real parents. I did," Chris told Channel 9's Paul Boyd.
But Chris and Kamaya said everything changed after the TV cameras left town.
"What they did to us was just wrong. (They) threw us all out," Chris said.
Chris said he was sent to a group home because of a bad attitude a few months after recording the show but said he was told it was only temporary.
"Why did I have to leave? I just didn't understand it. And it made me feel not wanted, you know?" Chris said.
Kamaya said she was sent to a different group home a few months later and was told the same thing.
"You gave me away. Parents don't do that. No," Kamaya said.
Within a year, they said all five adopted children were gone from the house.
"My brother and sisters were 5 years old. How can they get that much trouble where they have to kick them out?" Chris said.
Looking back, they believe their adoptive parents were motivated by just one thing.
"I know it was all about the money. From the first day, it was all about the money," Chris said.
"That's all she's about, money. It's money with her,” Kamaya said.
The Fridays ran a nonprofit organization called "House of Hope" and the makeover show created a store for them to operate.
Producers paid the rent for the store and gave the nonprofit thousands of dollars’ worth of donated items including Sears gift cards.
OUR PREVIOUS COVERAGE FROM 2011:
- Lincolnton family's new 'extreme' home revealed
- Lincolnton Family receives second surprise from Extreme Makeover
- College offers full tuition to 'Extreme Makeover' family
- Crews tear down home, prepare to build new one
- Lincolnton family's home gets extreme makeover
- Company looking for partners, donations as it prepares to build home
- Pep rally welcomes show to Charlotte area
Kamaya said Devonda Friday used many of the gift cards for herself.
"It was supposed to be a nonprofit store. She was supposed to put things inside the store. But it was used for her use," Kamaya said.
Chris said he asked Devonda Friday about using those gift cards for herself.
"She would tell me don't worry about it," Chris said.
Chris also said Devonda Friday drove a mini-van before the show was recorded but soon upgraded to a Mercedes Benz convertible.
Their nonprofit store front now sits empty, but the Fridays still live in the house. Property records show its value more than doubled after the home makeover.
Boyd asked the Fridays for their side of the story, but they didn't want to talk on camera.
Devonda Friday stopped her Mercedes in the middle of the street when she saw Whistleblower 9 and our camera crew outside her house. Then she drove the other way.
James Friday called Channel 9's newsroom a few minutes later and he agreed to a phone interview.
"Listen, no one kicked Chris or Kamaya out of the home," James Friday said.
He said the two older children, who were still minors at the time, wanted to leave.
As for the other three adopted children, James Friday said the Department of Social Services got involved, but he wouldn't explain any further.
"That's a DSS and social service matter," James said.
Boyd also asked James Friday about Chris and Kamaya’s accusation that Devonda Friday wrongfully used the Sears gift cards that were given to her by the show.
"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," James Friday said.
There was a family court hearing in 2015 about the adopted children but those court records are sealed.
"They went to court trying to get us all back, but I think it was about the money, too," Chris said.
"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,’" Kamaya said.
The grown children said they're moving on with their lives and will not be keeping their last name. Channel 9 has been told the five siblings are in different homes at this point, including the twins who are 11 years old.
James and Devonda Friday said their nonprofit organization "House of Hope" is still in operation and the couple insists they continue to good work for the community.
Channel 9 asked Lincoln County's DSS to clarify what happened in this case, and we're still waiting for a response.
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