I watch Extreme Makeover: Home Editon on occasion... I came across a headline, No Happy Ending for This Family's Extreme Makeover Home Edition, on Netscape.com yesterday afternoon that apalled me.

As a fan of the show I clicked the link... And I read the following...

No Happy Ending for This Family's Extreme Makeover Home Edition
June 29, 2006
Justene Adamec
On Easter Sunday 2005, ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition aired an especially poignant episode. Five children, ages 14-21, from the Higgins family were orphaned. A couple from their church, with three children of their own, took them in. The result was 10 people living in cramped quarters.

The show finds families like these and, in the course of a week, rebuilds their home from scratch. The process is edited into a one-hour episode. In the beginning, we are told the tale of woe in as heart-tugging a fashion as possible. Also factoring prominently in every beginning segment are the horrible living conditions and the heroic nature of the people who are flourishing despite the hardship. Then the family is whisked off to a vacation, the house is razed and rebuilt, and the ending segment is the presentation of the house to the always overwhelmed family.

The ending segment is designed to be as heart-tugging as the first. The rebuilt home is always astonishingly beautiful and completely furnished. In the Easter Sunday special, the rebuilt home had nine bedrooms, including one for each child. The show also paid off the mortgage.

The Higgins' happy ending did not last. The family that took them in asked them to leave the beautiful nine-bedroom home because it did not belong to the Higgins.

The eldest child, Charles Higgins, who is also legal guardian for the minor children, contacted the producers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, who could not help. Apparently the 24-page single spaced contract did not give the Higgins any right to the home built as a result of their tragedy. It did, however, give ABC the rights to their story and the episode was rebroadcast complete with happy ending after the Higgins children were already evicted.

As is often the case when good contracts go bad, the Higgins children sued both the couple that had evicted them and the various companies involved in making the show. The claims against the companies involved in making the show centered around the promise to provide them a home.

In a published decision yesterday, the California Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the portion of the contract that required arbitration was unenforceable because it was both procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The Higgins will now be able to take their case through to a full-blown jury trial.

Admittedly, I was practically in tears while reading this story, much like how I am while watching the last 15 minutes of every show. I watch the show when I can as I do not like to be in hysterics. It's a feel-good type show knowing that there potentially is a light at the end of the tunnel.

These children were taken in by a family of their church and while these reports are one-sided. We all know their are two sides to each coin. From my own personal opinion the family took these children out expecting a hand-out from charity. They finally got it at the expense of the loss of the childrens parents. Once the family got what they wanted, they kicked the orphans out!! Now I realize this is speculation, but what else do I have to work off of?!

I did a websearch to see what else has been written about this story and found this article from TV.com:

Orphans sue Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

By Lila Holland - TV.com

The popular reality series, which renovates the homes of families in need, is facing a lawsuit from five siblings who received gifts and a new home from the show this February.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been sued by a family of five orphans who claim that they were denied the new home promised to them by producers of the show.

The five Higgins children lost both of their parents in early 2004 when their mother died of breast cancer and their father of heart failure. The orphans were later taken into the home of the Leomitis family, who were acquainted with the Higgins clan through church.

After ABC producers learned of the children's misfortune, they stepped in to replace the Leomitis home with a nine-bedroom mansion. They also showered the Leomitis and Higgins families with gifts such as cars, computers, stereos, and groceries. Pardee Homes--the company that built the new house--paid off the mortgage in full, but allowed the Leomitises to retain the property's title.

According to the Higgins family, the trouble began immediately after construction of the house and production of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode concluded. The Leomitises allegedly launched "an orchestrated campaign" to drive the Higgins children out of their new home by battering them with verbal insults, racial epithets, and physical abuse. By the end of March, the Higginses had moved out of the Leomitis abode, and are currently scattered among the houses of other friends.

In a complaint filed Wednesday, the Higgins children claim that the Leomitis family used the orphans to increase their chances of being chosen to appear on the show. They also accused ABC of fraud and breach of contract. "We were promised a new home," says eldest sibling Charles Higgins II. "They broke that promise."

The network will not respond to questions about the lawsuit, but did release a statement saying, "It is important to note that the episode was about the rebuilding of the Leomitis family's existing home to accommodate the inclusion of the five Higgins siblings, whom the Leomitis had invited into their lives following the death of their parents."

Patrick Mesisca, lawyer for the Higginses, acknowledges that ABC never made a written promise to the children, but believes that the network's statements and actions were promise enough.

I think this case has the potential to get very ugly. I wish these children the best. All they want is a roof over their heads and to be together. And I would assume that ABC with as caring as Ty and the rest of his crew are during the filiming of the show that they would try to help these kids out.

The weirdest thing about this is I tried looking up the "story" about this family on ABC.com and there was no mention of Episode 18 anywhere. It has disappeared to ABC, much like I think they want this lawsuit to do.