Assignment Editor, CNN National Desk
The gates outside the Yearning For Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas, are usually locked. But they were open late Tuesday, as families returned to the sprawling ranch with children being returned from foster homes around the state.
“We just traveled day and night. Texas is a beautiful state, I had no idea I would see that much of it,” Zavenda Young said, holding her youngest daughter while her husband Edson Jessop embraced their sons.
“We are sure grateful to be home,” she added. “We’ve traveled 11,000 miles covering visits to the children, visits with attorneys, and all.”
Young told reporters the family had been temporarily living in the Houston area as they shuttled in between their four children and their caseworkers.
“The people that have been taking care of the children were doing such a wonderful job. They literally cried when we took them away,” Young said of the foster parents who cared for the children after they were removed from the ranch by state officials in April, citing evidence of underage marriages and statutory rape.
Young said the children had been hit hard by the removal to foster homes around the state. "They are dazed," she said. "They are not the same. We hope they pull out of it.”
Some reporters asked returning children how it felt to be back with their parents on the ranch. Clearly still shaken by the experience, children clung to their parents and shied away from the cameras.
Jessop said the raid had created misconceptions of the FLDS members of the polygamist ranch:
“We feel that everybody has been fed a whole bunch of garbage about us. I think when most people come to know us they come to learn that we are different than they suppose, but it’s really hard to change the spots on a leopard-we are what we are. I am the same kind of man that my father and grandfather was. I don’t know why the world wants to change me.”
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