N.C. parents featured on TV show gave custody of foster children
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 9:04 PM
A North Carolina couple awarded a new home on a TV show gave away custody of the five foster children featured on the show, reports revealed Tuesday.
James and Devonda Friday received a 3,900-square-foot home and a storefront lease for their nonprofit in a December 2012 episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” according to a press release from the time.
The new home in a Charlotte suburb ensured that the five siblings “will no longer have to share bedrooms,” according to the release. Yet Chris and Kamaya Friday, who took their adoptive parents’ names, told WSOC-TV they found themselves in new foster homes months later.
“I felt like they were my mom and dad. I loved them like they were my real parents,” Chris Friday said. “What they did to us was just wrong. (They) threw us all out.”
The brother and sister, who are now young adults, told the TV station their younger siblings soon followed them to new homes. They also said their adoptive parents used gift cards they were given on the show for themselves rather than their nonprofit.
James Friday declined a request for an interview Tuesday night. He referred questions to an attorney, who didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
James and Devonda Friday received a brand new home for their family of five foster children and two other kids in an episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” that aired in December 2012.
Representatives for Lincoln County Social Services, the agency overseeing foster care in Lincolnton, also didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
James Friday told the TV station the brother and sister’s account of the use of the gift cards was “ridiculous.” He said in a phone interview with the TV station that he and his wife used the funds to buy 200 pairs of shoes for a local church’s mission trips.
He called the question of the children’s custody “a DSS and Social Services matter,” but he said that the children wanted to leave him and his wife’s care.
“Listen, no one kicked Chris or Kamaya out of the home, OK?” James Friday said. “We’ve done no wrong.”
The ABC program, hosted by carpenter and former model Ty Pennington, gave families new houses after personal tragedies and natural disasters.
The Fridays said on the show that they had recently adopted five siblings who had been stuck in five different foster homes. Yet two of the children told a local TV station this week that they gave away custody of the five siblings over several months after the show aired.
The five children formed the basis for the episode of the popular nine-season show. One of 30 children the Fridays had adopted as foster parents over the years “changed their life forever” by telling them about his four siblings living in separate homes, the press release said.
The Fridays, who had seven children in all at the time, converted a makeshift bedroom out of a carport of the home to accommodate all of the kids. Yet over 3,000 volunteers helped build and pay for the brand new mansion, according to the release by a homebuilding company.
“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,” the company’s CEO said in a statement at the time.
Chris Friday told WSOC his onetime adoptive parents tried to regain custody a year after the siblings left their care but did not receive approval. He has confronted them about the situation, he said.
“Why did I have to leave, you know? Like I just didn’t understand. It just made me feel not wanted,” he said. “I know it was all about the money from the first day, it was all about the money.”
Chris Friday, shown above, and his sister Kamaya told WSOC-TV that they felt betrayed by their adoptive parents.
Questions have surrounded the nonprofit, which was called House of Hope, for years. The storefront at a Lincolnton shopping center had yet to open its doors between the taping of the episode around the holidays in 2011 and the airing the following year, WPTV reported in 2012.
James Friday told the TV station at the time that he and his wife were working out of their home by appointment only while providing toiletries and other emergency supplies to local families in need. He said the store would soon open for a few days each week.
“It’s not a Goodwill, or a thrift store,” James Friday said. “It’s something a little different.”
A crew from WSOC found the store shuttered and empty four years later.