'Bus' kids back in parents' full custody

January 22, 2013 5:21:55 PM PST
Nearly a year after they were found living alone on an abandoned school bus, two young children are back with their parents for good. For the first time we're hearing from the family about being apart and what it took to reunite them.

The judge sided with the family and decided to reunite them, giving a happy ending to a nearly year-long nightmare they've been living.

The Shorten family has been waiting for this day since March 7, 2012. They are finally reunited for good and the case that could have removed their children from them forever has been dropped.

Last March, 12-year-old Jessica and 6-year-old Chance Shorten were found living in deplorable conditions in a broken down bus in Splendora, nearly entirely unsupervised. Their parents Sherrie and Mark Shorten were in prison serving time for a Hurricane Ike rebuilding embezzlement scheme and were unaware of the problem. They thought the kids were being cared for by an aunt, but the two children went into foster care and were going to be put up for adoption.

Sherrie was released from custody in April and Mark got out in July. They worked frantically to get their home up to par, go through therapy, and prove they are good parents. A judge agreed. Sherrie is employed, Mark has applied for disability pay, the bus has been renovated and they are all headed home together for good.

Jessica, who had previously been home schooled, is getting all As at her new school, and is even on the math team.

"I'm going to be in a UIL math competition," she said.

"It feels really good," Sherrie told Eyewitness News. "They've been with us since September 28th. This is just one more thing that we've gotten resolved, that we can fix and we're ready to put our family back together and keep moving forward."

Mark said, "If you love your family, then you never give up on your family. You do what it takes. It doesn't matter how many hours you have to stay at it, it doesn't matter how many days. My family is worth that. I've worked 24/7, if anything."

The kids had been living with their parents since September in a conditional situation monitored by CPS. Now they'll stay there. No more monitoring is deemed necessary.

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