Children Find Comfort at Shelter As Mother Battled Illness

A young woman is sharing her story of resilience in the face of her mother's mental illness.

At 15 years old, Brianna Talley and her two young siblings were removed from their home by Child Protective Services.

A North Texas non-profit organization came to their rescue during very dark days, she says, providing shelter and love.

Talley, now 25 years old, is wise beyond years. She says she's had to be. When she was 15, she says her mother started having bipolar episodes.

"It was like a switch that flipped. From the moment we saw her she was different, doing bizarre things. We called the cops one day and finally they took her to a mental hospital," Talley said.

Talley, her 10-year-old brother and 2-year-old sister were taken by CPS to an emergency shelter.

"I remember telling myself as soon as we got out of the car, 'You're not going to cry any more, you have to be strong for them,'" Talley recalled. "I just figured eventually she would come back. She's my mom, she knows that she's all we have."

Her mother, Sandra Struebing, now rehabilitated, says she did not see her children for 28 days. "They wouldn't tell me exactly where they were. All they would say is that they were with CPS," Struebing said.

Holidays were spent with them in the CPS office.

"It was great, but awkward and sad at the same time, because I knew they weren't going to go home with me," Struebing recalled.

All three children would go home to Jonathan's Place, the only shelter in Dallas County that accepts children under the age of 10.

"We definitely felt the love," Talley said.

Being together with her siblings made coping easier.

"Had we not been placed here, it would have probably made the experience 10-times more traumatic," she said.

Months later, the family was reunited. Struebing says her children's memories at Jonathan's Place comforted her.

"It is an incredible feeling to know that your kids are loved on and cared for. They're given everything that they need. Dental, doctors, psychologists and toys," Struebing said.

Jonathan's Place counts on local support to provide services to children who have been victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect. If you would like to help, visit their website and learn more about the upcoming fundraising luncheon on April 25 featuring Olympian Simone Biles.

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