First look inside YFZ Ranch
First look: Quiet is unnerving as FLDS members seek answers
Although child welfare workers allowed most of the mothers to accompany their children to the temporary shelters, Nancy said she was not allowed to go. She stood helpless in the doorway and watched as her children, grandchildren and family members were loaded onto buses.
"The children would cry and hang onto their mothers," she said, trembling and wiping away tears.
"I get my strength from my Heavenly Father, but I can't believe something like this could even happen in America.... How could they take families and tear the children away? They're mentally abusing those children."
'Nowhere to go'
Monica, a mother of five children between the ages of 11 and 3, said she wants the world to know her children were happy and safe at home.
"We love our children. We love family life. Our children are our life. We do all we can to make sure they are cared for and have an education," she said. "They have manners and are trained well in loving and blessing others."
She was out of state for an appointment when she heard that her home was being raided. She quickly returned to the ranch but wasn't allowed inside. "I had nowhere to go," said Monica, 34.
Her sister is taking care of her 3-year-old at a makeshift shelter in San Angelo, about 50 miles away. A cousin is looking after the others. She tried to join the 139 mothers that were allowed to accompany their children, but the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services won't allow her inside.
"I have driven past the area where they are, and it's completely surrounded by police," she said. "I'm sure I could walk up to the door and get arrested ... and then what's going to happen to my children?"
When she was finally allowed to return to her home on the ranch, because of an ongoing search of the property by authorities, she said nothing was the same.
"Can you imagine what it's like to come back to nothing? Empty, ransacked homes, many things were taken, no pictures left."
She was able to find some pictures of when her children were younger, but all others were confiscated.
"I want the world to know that there is a nothing stronger than love and there is an inborn, God-given love between a mother and her children, and all a mother wants for her children is the very best" Monica said.
Despite her sorrow and frustration, she says she has faith that she will see her children again.
"I know I can't give up. I have to stay at it," she said. "I know with Heavenly Father's help I will be able to get them back."
'I couldn't believe it'
Shannon, a mother who was also off the ranch when officers served the search warrants, said she's also tried several times to see her three children but has been refused.
"Every day I've called them. They put me off saying they don't have the authority to let me in and there's no proof the children are mine. I tell them the children know who their mother is, and I know who my children are," she said.
The 30-year-old says she provided child welfare officials with identification and even birth certificates proving she is her children's mother. She says she and other mothers were told those documents could have been fake.
"I couldn't believe it. I wondered if we were in America or Russia," Shannon said. "I kept thinking, 'How can they do that?' They're breaking every rule. They're breaking every law."
Shannon has been told that her youngest child, who is just 2 years old, clings to her caretaker in the shelter. "She's sick right now and needs her mother."
Texas officials say they removed the children because they believe they're being abused or neglected. The raid was authorized by a judge after workers at a family domestic hotline reported receiving calls from a pregnant 16-year-old girl claiming she was being abused and was afraid to leave the ranch.
Shannon insists the children were not in any harmful environment at the ranch and were well-loved and cared for.
"We are not child abusers. We take very good care of them. These are innocent and sweet children," she said."The only abuse my children have ever had is since they've been taken away."
- A beleaguered family — 12 in 4...
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome forces the Thompson...
- Amy Donaldson: South Jordan mom eyes Boston...
- Man shot, killed in confrontation with Tooele...
- Top Utah stories of 2014
- Utah came first for Rep. Jim Matheson, but...
- 'Somebody knows what happened,' daughter...
- About Utah: Jen Seelig came to Utah and made...
- Rally in support of police also draws... 44
- Doug Robinson: Advocate's plea: Please... 23
- Utah came first for Rep. Jim Matheson,... 21
- Top Utah stories of 2014 9
- Man shot, killed in confrontation with... 8
- Christmas tradition: Judge visits jail... 7
- Pranks spark collection of toilet paper... 4
- Park City police nab pair suspected of... 4