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Author Topic: ...which goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished...
jeniwren
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http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=198702

Not that I think ABC was completely altruistic in its Extreme Makeover Home Edition show (it features sister company products aggressively), but geez...because kids can't get along with adults that took them into their home, they are suing ABC? For breach of contract?? Please.

quote:
Their lawsuit alleges that the Leomitis engaged in "an orchestrated campaign" to drive them away by insulting them and treating them poorly.
My kids don't like me some of the time. I do have a somewhat organized campaign toward civilizing them into decent human beings, which they could at times construe as insulting and mean. I guess I'm glad they don't have anyone to sue.

Given that the Leomitis family did not even apply to get on the show, it's hard to see how they orchestrated using the kids' situation to get themselves an incredible house, and paid off to boot. I suspect that they had expectations for the kids' behavior the kids didn't want to comply with, so they left. And were unhappy because they had to leave this lavish house behind, so they are suing.

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rivka
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Good grief. [Razz]
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SC Carver
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What's next, the lottery winners suing because people keep asking them for money?
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Dagonee
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Let me get this straight: The couple took them in with no inkling that this ABC thing would happen?

[Wall Bash] [Wall Bash] [Wall Bash] [Wall Bash] [Wall Bash]

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jeniwren
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Absolutely. THe show's producers found them through a newscast, not through an audition tape.

To be fair, I think building a huge home for a family that has no legal ties to the children they've taken in is a little short sighted. But the lawyers who are indulging these children in this should be spanked.

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Katarain
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Just a thought... what if the couple really did get greedy after the fact? What if they weren't doing good parenting, but really being mean?

I mean, I have no way of knowing, of course, but it is possible that they woke up and said... hey, we have this huge new house, it's in our names, these kids are a real nuisance. It might not have even been a conscious thing...

But it would be pretty darn crappy of them. But so is what the kids are doing in the other scenario.

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romanylass
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This should amaze me but somehow, it doesn't.
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Miriya
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Sigh. This is so outrageous. These "kids" are 15-22. Imagine the show had built a new house for the original parents just because they were needy and had five children.

When you get to that age (maybe not at 15 but...) many if not most kids decide it's time to go out on their own. No one makes the parents give up their house or buy them a house of their own.

If the kids left home voluntarily and there was no abuse, it's their problem.

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beverly
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I am less amazed at the crazy law suits that come rolling in than I am at how many of them actually win. *That* frightens me.
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jeniwren
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Katarain, that's always a possibility, sure. I'm mostly going by character. Children are, for the most part, pretty selfish creatures. Not that adults are exempt by any means. But I guess I see a set of parents who invite 5 orphans into their home, parents who definitely did not have the resources for those 5 kids, but who still made the sacrifice, as probably more like to be unselfish by character than the children.
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Wendybird
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I remember watching that episode. The family took these kids in so they could stay together. From what I remember they were friendly with the family before the parents died. Its hard to know what was really going on after the home building. Its a lot of "he said she said" unless there are outside witnesses to the allegations. What a shame.
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katharina
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Step-families are hard, and the transition is painful, even when everyone is fully committed. Step-families made where the kids are not legaly bound to the parents and the youngest kid is 15 would be even harder.

However good the intentions, instant families are hard to deal with. It's a lovely idea, taking in all of them, but I think it was a bad idea from the start.

---

It bothers me to say that children are selfish, and that means they have a worse character. They are just younger. Adults who take on the responsibility of caring for children are SUPPOSED to be better people - they chose the responsibility, and they are farther along developmentally.

I think of many, many scenarios for what happened, and most of them involve poor communication, good intentions, and hurt feelings on both sides. I think it is important to note that they weren't legally bound to the parents - it means they were guests, always. No matter how nice the house, it was not a secure place. People seriously don't sue on a complete whim, usually anyway. I'll bet everyone was pretty miserable.

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Belle
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You know what bugs me about makeover shows?

Not just the home makeovers, but the physical appearance makeovers and everything - it sends a message that changing your appearance or how nice your home looks will solve problems. It will make you happier, it will help you get a job, it will help a child forget that his parents are dead, etc.

Now, I know that many times the motives are indeed altruistic, and some of those shows do truly laudable things. But it's the overall message that disturbs me.

Getting a new wardrobe and a new hairdo is not going to make someone happy who is unhappy. They'll be be more stylishly unhappy.

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rivka
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Belle, I agree with you 1000%!

Katie, I don't think anyone is saying the kids are selfish because living there didn't work out. I think they're selfish because they are choosing to turn that unfortunate situation into a lawsuit.

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katharina
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Well, the house was built because of them, and I'll bet they are now broke. Since I don't know what happened, I'm not willing to label anyone here selfish.
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rivka
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The oldest is 22. If they are broke, I would like to know WHY.
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Kwea
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Yes, but the gift of that house was to the parents for things they had already done, and as a gift it came no strings attached.

They chose to leave.

I think it will be settled out of court, and that is just a shame. [Big Grin]

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Hmm216
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Belle,

I have to dissagree with you about the home makeover shows. These families are living in conditions no one should live in. Homes that are falling apart, homes that are not large enough to shelter a large family, and even people who cant access things in their own home b/c of dissabilities. These shows are not saying that in order to be happy they need a beautiful home, they are saying in order for these people to live they need the proper shelter (which these families are unable to provide for themselves). Habitat for Humanity and similar orginizaitons have been building homes for people in need for years, now we just have a televised version.

I personally love Extreme Makeover Home Edition. The stories are very touching and the families truely deserve everything they are given!

I dont agree with the original Extreme Makeover, but home edition is doing a great deed for these families!

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rivka
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Hmm216, I agree that often that show in particular does some really great things for deserving families. But Belle's point remains: the message that show, along with all the other "makeover" shows sends is that if you change certain physical aspects of your home, your body, etc., you will magically be happy.

Not only is that not true, it's a very dangerous message.

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Eaquae Legit
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In general, I agree with you, rivka and Belle. Extreme Makeover Home Edition is the one exception for me. I never get the impression that they expect people's lives to be perfect because of the show. But they so often give people the helping hand they need to get their life moving again. Making a home wheelchair accessible, rebuilding a home destroyed by fire... sure, life's not going to be perfect. the show can un-paralyse someone, nor bring that lost husband or wife back from the grave. But they can make sure they have a good, solid home. A roof that doesn't leak. Plumbing. Sometimes they raise money for scholarships for kids.

Life's not going to be all roses, but maybe it'll be just a bit better.

(Oh, and I enjoyed "He's a Lady," because it was really interesting, quite funny, and for once, the good-hearted-"loser" won. But that's totally off topic. Okay, so it was a makeover show, just a really bizzare one.)

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rivka
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Don't get me wrong. Of all the makeover shows, it is the only one I ever watch. I think they do some wonderful things.

But I also think that they are, on some level, also peddling the notion that the physical house is one of the most important aspects of a family's life. *shrug*

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Belle
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Maybe it's a matter of perspective. For example, I know someone who lived for more than five years without indoor plumbing and had electricity that would likely blow a fuse if you ever tried to use anything that drew more current than an iron. No television, no satellite dishes, no internet, a landline phone that was extremely unreliable. Both husband and wife were physicians with degrees from the US - she was a pediatrician and he was a tropical medicine specialist who had turned down numerous offers to take a position that paid nothing - that of a medical missionary in Honduras.

And yet this was one of the happiest, most content families I've ever known. Our church began sending them $400 a month as support and the next time my husband went down to Honduras to work as a short term missionary he found their home exactly as it had been. They had taken all the extra money and put it into buying medical supplies and food, not spending one dime on themselves. The only things they ever accepted for themselves was baby supplies when they were pregnant with their children.

We are so spoiled in America - we think that no one can possibly be happy unless they have every single modern convenience. It's not what's in your home that makes you a happy family.

Lest you take the opportunity to call me a hypocrite, I'll save you the trouble and do it first - yes, I'm a hypocrite in some ways because I do have a nice home and I live comfortably with pretty much every convenience one could ask for. But I don't think that my happiness or that of my family revolves around the things we own - I believe it has everything to do with our love and commitment to each other and an appreciation of the blessings we've been given. We live in a large home with five bedrooms and over two acres - and yet I don't think we're substantively happier than we were when we lived in a 2 bedroom, 800 square foot home. I remember the times we spent in that little house as some of the best in my life, even though we were struggling financially and never had enough room and the plumbing leaked and the roof needed replacing and the subfloor was sinking in the bathroom and really needed to be pulled out and re-done. Those things did matter, but it didn't make us unhappy.

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jexx
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I have to say that I *was* happier when my family moved from a two-bedroom second floor apartment (with mold in the walls and actual mushrooms growing in the entryway) to a newer, larger section of military housing. It did make a difference in my happiness.

In general, I agree with Belle and rivka, though. In particular about the physical makeovers.

I am ambivalent. It's early in the day, though, maybe my opinions will firm up after lunch [Wink]

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Belle
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quote:
I have to say that I *was* happier when my family moved from a two-bedroom second floor apartment (with mold in the walls and actual mushrooms growing in the entryway) to a newer, larger section of military housing. It did make a difference in my happiness.
Yes, I agree. And I think that what I mean to say is this:

If you're an unhappy family and you improve your physical living conditions, it's not going to turn you into a happy family. If you're a happy family in poor living conditions, it's going to probably help you be happier, if only because you don't have the stress associated with wondering if your kids are going to get sick from the mold on the walls.

So I don't want to pretend that living conditions aren't at all relevant - but they're not a magic pill that makes everything come out all right. If there are root problems making you unhappy getting a new hairdo or new carpet is not going to fix them.

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SC Carver
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There was a study a few years ago that found lottery winners were no happier or unhappier a few years after they won than before they won. Of course there was a certain amount of time where they were in as euphoric state, but it goes away.

They found the same thing in people who have had traumatic events in their life. After a while they return to their normal happiness level. So in the end we can't help being ourselves, it doesn't matter how much money we are given.

Of course I don’t believe this means we can’t do things to make ourselves happier in the long run. I think the main thing is our point of view, not our possessions.

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jeniwren
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kat: regarding the kids who are suing, I actually don't hold them too culpable for their behavior. Yes, I'd call it selfish, but I would expect selfish, self-centered behavior from children. Even, to some degree, 22 year old children.

The ones I hold culpable are the lawyers who are seeing this as a golden opportunity to line their pockets with their percentage of the settlement money. I expect adults to hold children accountable for responsible behavior. I don't expect children to spawn that behavior on their own. The only adults suing are the lawyers.

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Hmm216
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Most of the families that this show is providing homes for are very humble and tight (excluding the one mentioned in the article). I never got the impression that Extreme Makeover Home Edition's intention was to build home to make happy families. They are intending to give deserving families a better living environment which they could not provide themselves. They do exactly what Habitat for humanity does for families in the same situation as those on the show.

I do agree that the other makeover shows send the
wrong message, but this show I truely believe does good deeds. I would actually say that it sends a good message: that it is good to help deserving people who are in need.

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Enigmatic
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Does anybody else wonder about the property tax impact to these families? I'm sure in a lot of cases the makeover is driving the property value much higher than it originally was, and for the families that were on super-tight budgets I have to wonder what that costs them in the longer run.

--Enigmatic

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Dagonee
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They pay off the mortgage, though, so I'm sure it works out.
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Enigmatic
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Ah. I figured they probably gave them some sort of non-house/non-product compensation, just didn't know what. No mortgage payments would definitely make a huge difference on its own.
Thanks for the info.

--Enigmatic

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jeniwren
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The real financial burden of the new house is the income tax, as I understand it. The IRS looks on it as anything of great value and has their hand out for the government's share of the riches. As I understand it, that's part of why they pay off the mortgages. But they also have a fund to help those families deal with the taxes.

I heard that by rumor, but it makes sense to me that it wouldn't be a tax-free gift.

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Dagonee
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ABC , the production company, and the builder have been granted summary judgment.

The suit against the family still remains, but their lawyer states that the summary judgment findings will help the family prove their case.

The children plan to appeal.

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Icarus
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Thanks for then update, Dagonee.
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BlackBlade
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Good, people that bite hands that fed them don't deserve any more handouts. Thanks for reading the Washington Post so I don't have to Dag [Big Grin]
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Kwea
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Yeah, I guess the cars and other items they recived will just have to do.
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