SEASON 02 | EPISODE 04
Laura, a former CPS worker and devoted mama bear and Bill a seasoned law enforcement veteran with a heart of gold, have opened their hearts and home to numerous children in need: eventually adopting nine kids. These tireless advocates for children will go on to spearhead the efforts to make all children in Texas safe from medical child abuse.
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Andrea: [00:00:00] Nobody should believe me is a production of large media. That’s l a r j media. Before we begin a quick warning that in this show we discuss child abuse and this content may be difficult for some listeners. If you or anyone you know is a victim or survivor of medical child abuse, please go to munchhausen support.com to connect with professionals who can help people believe their eyes.
Andrea: That’s something that actually is so. Central to this whole issue and to people that experience this, is that we do believe the people that we love when they’re telling us something. I’m Andrea Dunlap and this is, nobody Should Believe me.
Andrea: Bill and Laura Wayburn are an incredible couple. They are just some of my favorite people, and they’re very important in this story, but also to the bigger cause of raising awareness and taking action on medical [00:01:00] child abuse. I first met Bill Wayburn when I was attending a child abuse conference in January of 2020.
Andrea: I was sitting at the front row of his presentation with Detective Mike Webber talking about this case, and it was. Really affecting, as I’ve described him before, he is this big, tall guy with a 10 gallon hat and this big mustache, and he’s this huge presence, but also just such a warm person. And as he told this story, you know, it was really moving.
Andrea: There just wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he was done. And he was the first person that I had ever met who underst. Good having a personal experience with this topic. And so it really made an impression on me. And meeting up with him again years later in Fort Worth to interview him for the podcast was a really special experience.
Andrea: You ma’am? One. Okay. And then Bill, are you okay to stay till 10 30?
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: I think so. Okay, perfect. Yeah, absolutely. So I, yeah, [00:02:00] I think that’s what the schedule said. So I was good prepared. I was prepared. I was prepared for that. Um, I have strong women tell me what to do all the time,
Andrea: you know, as every man should.
Andrea: Um, are you okay if I take some pictures while you guys are talking? Sure. Okay, great. You know, there’s just something about Bill Weber and he’s the sheriff out of central casting, and yet he’s one of the warmest people I’ve ever met and he has a long history in law enforcement.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: My law enforcement career actually started in the United States Air Force.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: Uh, Uh, when I was, uh, just outta high school and then I became a Texas Peace officer and I was with, uh, I was police chief for 31 years, actually, public Safety chief. I was, I directed the fire in the EMS and the police at, at the city of Dwe and Gardens. And then, you know, I, uh, Felt like that the county sheriff should be doing more than they were and, and thought that, that it, they could be better partners with municipalities and do things to serve the citizens.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: So we threw our hat in the ring and, and [00:03:00] 2016 and won the primary and, and went on to, uh, walk into the sheriff’s office in January of 2017. And it’s been a great ride. I’ve been in law enforcement for over 40 years and I got a lot of great people around me. That, uh, make sure that we, we, uh, one of the best agencies in the country and we lead in several areas, including human trafficking.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: We lead in, uh, medical child abuse as to the area investigations that we specifically lead in. Our, uh, agency has got some other things that we’re first in, but, but those two come to mind because they’re incredibly important and, and, uh, have some commonality because they have to do with the narcissism of our country.
Andrea: Bill really loves kids and he has devoted his career to protecting them and his compassion really comes through when you meet him. I just adore Bill and his wife Laura. Bill could not have found better match in this life than his wife Laura, who is [00:04:00] an equally compassionate former C P s worker who has big Mama bear energy.
Andrea: How did you and Bill Wayburn meet originally?
Laura Waybourn: We first met whenever I was working late, late night. I was a child Protective services investigator. I worked in a unit that investigated serious physical abuse and child deaths and sexual abuse and uh, my. Coworker and I were always late on our documentation and so we were always working late, just typing up cases, trying to meet deadlines.
Laura Waybourn: And we had a friend that worked at where my husband worked at the time, as chief of police, as a dispatcher, and we would go and see her in the middle of the night whenever we got too stupid to be typing anymore. And so we went to his office and. Saw our friend and he walked in and that’s how I met him and my friend Kim Garrison, who later, [00:05:00] whenever we met Alyssa, you know, whenever her case started, she was working at Cook Hospital as the c p s, uh, liaison to the hospital.
Laura Waybourn: And so it is all kind of connected from the very, very beginning of when I met him.
Andrea: That’s wild how far back those various connections that played such a pivotal role in this case really go. Do you remember what you thought when you first met Bill?
Laura Waybourn: Oh, I was immediately kind of struck by him and my friend.
Laura Waybourn: I wasn’t going to do it, but my friend gave him my phone number and just worked it right into the conversation. Told him that I was interested in a handgun class that he was teaching, which I was not at all interested. I didn’t know a single thing about.
Andrea: That at that point, although he seems like he would be a good person to teach you about handguns.
Laura Waybourn: He was. He was. And he, he’s taught me very well.
Andrea: I have to ask, did he have the mustache back then?
Laura Waybourn: He did. I have never seen him in person without the mustache. [00:06:00] I, I’ve seen pictures and I think I prefer the mustache.
Andrea: It’s hard to imagine Without the, without the, exactly. So you said you were working as a CPS p s investigator at the time.
Andrea: So what drew you to that work?
Laura Waybourn: I. I had always been interested in advocating for kids, but whenever I was very young, I was a young teenager, I worked at an in-home daycare, and that’s where I got my first taste of cps. Ps there was a, it turned into nothing but there was a, there was a case that was there, and that was the first time I ever heard of c p s because I came from, you know, just what I would consider a normal family.
Laura Waybourn: You know, mom and dad married to each other, then had me and my brother and my sister. And, you know, we never had any kind of trauma like that growing up. And so whenever I was working I, I saw how, you know, some of, some of that can come about and I got interested at that point and, and knew I. Pretty well that I wanted to go to college and and get a social work [00:07:00] degree.
Laura Waybourn: I actually, as part of my internship for my social work degree, I worked at Child Protective Services with their academy. That turned into a paid position after my internship.
Andrea: So it sounds like this drive to help and advocate for children just goes all the way back for you. It really does.
Laura Waybourn: I always was drawn to kids.
Laura Waybourn: I would be, you know, the one that would be taking care of the kids, babysitting, you know, all of those kinds of things. And then even after I was with Child Protective Services, before Bill and I started adopting kids, you know, we would. I, before I even met him, would borrow other people’s kids, or I’d be the one that they would have watched their kids while they went outta town or whatever.
Laura Waybourn: So it’s just kind of been something I’ve always done.
Andrea: We’ve talked a lot about CPS P this season, you know, and the fact is this organization, even though they tend to get blamed for a lot of things, most c p s folks are young. Female and incredibly overworked. This is a profession with a very high [00:08:00] burnout rate, and they’re up against a lot of systemic challenges.
Andrea: I asked Laura what it was like being in that job, especially at such a young age, and her response was very, Laura.
Laura Waybourn: It was pretty grueling. There were good times. Of course, whenever, you know, somebody thought that something bad had happened and it turns out that it didn’t. Those were the best, you know, whenever you have a case that’s unfounded, but it was, it was pretty heart-wrenching.
Laura Waybourn: Uh, seeing kind of the worst of the worst. You know, those people who are gonna hurt our kids are, are just some kind of different individuals. And, uh, I learned a lot from working there. I learned a lot about people and about relationships and kind of what not to do and what to stay away
from. And I value all of that work that I did and I’m proud of a lot of the work that I did.
Laura Waybourn: But I still. I struggle with the agency that it is because it comes down to what a good friend of mine who was a judge [00:09:00] says when the state steps in, you have to do it the government way, and the government is not a good parent. Laura’s
Andrea: training would turn out to be extremely useful in navigating her next big role as the mom to more than half a dozen adopted children.
Andrea: She shared with me how it all started for them well.
Laura Waybourn: We had been married not very long and we had a nephew of my husband’s that was living with us. And we didn’t know how long it would be, but he ended up living with us for about two and a half years. What we didn’t plan any of these adoptions, what happened was Bill had gone to church.
Laura Waybourn: I had stayed home with a sick grandbaby cuz we had, he had older kids too. Whenever we got married. So I had stayed home from church. He came home and he just told me I almost did something at church. And I said, what? And he said, I almost said we’d adopt a 14 year old Russian boy.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: It was December of oh two, 20 years ago.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: Laura was home actually taking care of, uh, our oldest grandchild at the moment. And [00:10:00] I went to church and I’m sitting there and they had, um, sponsored, been part of a sponsorship. Of 15 Russian orphans coming over and they had matched up 14 parents and there was a 15th child that wasn’t matched up to parents that he would be going back to Russia.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: He was 14 years old. And in Russia, you age out by the absolutely. The time that you’re 16. And that’s pretty common in Eastern European, you know, in September of your 16th birthday. Have a good life.
Andrea: Listening to the story of this child, bill felt really moved and decided that he should come and be a part of their family.
Laura Waybourn: That’s really how it began. Um, it was just completely out of the blue. We had said, cuz I had worked at c p s and, you know, we knew about different things and uh, we had said, maybe one day we’ll foster, you
know, we just kind of said that. But we hadn’t ever talked about adopting anybody in particular, or especially a specific kid.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: Wasn’t on my radar, wasn’t something I wanted, [00:11:00] something I didn’t intend to. We’d had a full life. But I remember going home, convicted, and I remember going in and telling Laura, I think we need to go to Russia and adopt this boy. And, uh, she probably thought I was drinking communion wine or something all the way home.
Laura Waybourn: After a little bit of time of the shock wearing off of me, then um, we started the process to adopt that first boy from
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: Russia. It wasn’t long, it was just a couple of weeks later that we put our name in the hat and said, if you can’t find anybody else to get him, we will go get them. And uh, right before the new year, they called us back and says, Y’all are up.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: So, uh, I believe it was April that year we were in Russia, and
Laura Waybourn: that was the beginning.
Andrea: Over the years, the waves adopted several more children, and it’s easy to see why they came to mind as a perfect placement for Alyssa. How did you and Laura make the [00:12:00] decision to put yourselves forward? At this point you have. Five adopted children, one of whom is pretty young at the time. Right. And you make the decision to put yourselves forward to be a placement for Alyssa.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: Yeah. Now, at that time, the older children were already outta the house, so we were, uh, we had one at home.
Laura Waybourn: My niece Faith called me and told me she was so excited, bless her heart because. You know, everybody knew that there was something not right. She was so excited to tell me that Alyssa had been taken away and that she’s in the hospital and she was, the reason she was calling me was basically to ask me if we would take her because.
Laura Waybourn: You know, we are the people who adopt all the kids. And so it was funny because Patsy, her mother was at my house at the time that she called, and my husband was with Faith’s dad, Patsy’s husband. They were coming back from a
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: [00:13:00] trip and I can remember. On the drive home, we’re driving outta West Texas, and Laura had come to the conclusion that Melissa needed to be with us and now she needed to convince me and my brother actually, and with good reason, thought foster care would be better for her to get her as far away.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: It was getting her as far away as she can be and it may work out better that way. So he was trying to protect Alyssa too. And, but Laura says we can protect her and certainly Laura. Laura and I can and Laura’s mama bear and all that good stuff. And the drive back from West Texas began to get a little bit longer cuz I saw where this was going and we’d had those conversations before.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: This was not a new conversation.
Laura Waybourn: I remember that he seemed flabbergasted. That’s what I remember. I don’t remember anything about the actual conversation other than I was kind of [00:14:00] surprised by how flabbergasted he seemed because he had flabbergasted me so many times
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: when I saw that Laura was on board, she says, and, and here’s the key.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: Laura was more uniquely qualified than anyone I knew to mother this child, because of the trauma that she had been through and what had been, we were already past the stage of could this have happened? Could this really be, and Laura understood that she was in a perfect spot to be the mother of this child.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: And so it just, you know, she’s a lot smarter than me and you know, she hit all the logical and emotional. Nails on the head, and by the time I got back to Tarrant County, I knew I was gonna be a new dad.
Laura Waybourn: Just the timing of all of that was just very interesting that everybody. New all at the same time. And, uh, so, you know, I basically told her, you know, we’ll, we’ll talk about it, we’ll think about it and, you know, get back to you.
Laura Waybourn: Bill and I talked, it took us a few days to [00:15:00] get it all worked out, but we talked and we decided that yes, we would be willing to absolutely take her. And at that time, you know, the rest of our kids had already grown and moved away, and so we only had. The one left at home, that was the one that we got as the baby.
Laura Waybourn: And so we started preparing for Alyssa to come home and to have one big brother in the home.
Andrea: And at that point, was it a consideration of like, will you take her while this investigation is going on? Or is it, I mean, did you have in your mind even then that it could be a permanent,
Laura Waybourn: she was gonna be placed with us not as licensed foster parents, but as a kinship placement.
Laura Waybourn: Fictive kin is what it’s called. Or you know, a, a relative placement. And so we didn’t have to go through all of the hoops that a foster home would have to go through, so it was able to be a little bit faster. But whenever we agreed to take her, our. Whole thought process all along has always [00:16:00] been, every child deserves a home.
Laura Waybourn: Every child needs stability. And so we were never in a place of planning to be temporary unless we had to be. We, we were all in. If we were in at all. And that’s just who we are. I can’t stand it. I know that it’s necessary, but I hate that there’s kids that are bounced, you know, from foster home to foster home and then to an adoptive home.
Laura Waybourn: I just, I want them there right away. It, they need to be wherever their mama is and whoever their mama is, is whoever their mama is.
Andrea: And so that’s where, that’s where we were even as relatives. Bill and Laura still had to go through what’s called a home study to make sure that they would be a good fit for Alyssa.
Andrea: In the meantime, Alyssa, who was doing much better health-wise, had been released from the hospital and was placed with a foster parent who had a background as a nurse practitioner, will get a little bit more into what happened during that placement in a [00:17:00] future episode. Laura did everything she could to keep the process moving along, which can be very slow and bureaucratic.
Laura Waybourn: C p s put me in touch with her foster parent and we talked very, very regularly and she knew that, that we were working on getting her, and then whenever it looked like it was really gonna happen. We actually all met together at a Chick-fil-A, I think just had a little play visit.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: So we got one visit with her and we had a marvelous time with her and she was very excited to see us.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: I mean, she had no problems at all, you know, uh, with us. She was very friendly. But, uh, I look back on that now, that baby just wanted somebody to love her and somebody to feed her and somebody to do those kind of things. So we had a great time. I think they did some. Face painting they had, you know, I remember that.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: And it wasn’t long after that is that she came to our home and, uh, and I mean, she ran in like she’d always been there
Laura Waybourn: the first day that she came, you know, she just came in and was exploring. Cause that was the first time she’d [00:18:00] been at our home. She came in and she was just exploring our house and her room and playing with her big brother.
Laura Waybourn: I mean, she just, she just melded into our family. Very seamlessly. She was
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: precious, you know, she was good to go. And so the adjustment period with her was, Almost instantaneous. She settled right in and was good to go and, and, uh, that kind of thing. And she was just so excited to eat. She had a
Laura Waybourn: lot of behaviors that were different and specific to, you know, what she had gone through.
Laura Waybourn: Like I. You couldn’t take her plate away. If you take her plate away, she was gonna lose her ever loving mind
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: because that was a trigger and that would upset her a whole lot. You know, when she ate and she got down from the table, she’d go play and she’d come back and look for that plate to still be at the table and she’d be upset if you picked up her plate before she was done.
Laura Waybourn: We needed to leave food out for her all the time, which we learned that very quickly. And you know, that’s not hard. You can just. [00:19:00] I mean, even just a plate of goldfish crackers, you know, as long as she just had something to eat where she knew that she wasn’t gonna be starved, basically,
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: because you just never had that freedom before.
Laura Waybourn: I’m not sure if Alyssa knew at that point that she was coming or not, but at the point when Alyssa found out that she was moving, She
got very difficult, which understandably, a three-year-old knowing that she’s somewhere that’s not home and that she’s gonna be somewhere else. She got very difficult and that, that foster mother and I were talking back and forth a lot.
Laura Waybourn: That’s where probably cps, PS and Mike, I know I drove Mike nuts, but I don’t, I’m not sorry for it. That’s where. I just called and called and called and called and called. I called repeatedly to try to get her placed with us sooner than later because, you know, it’s always, well, we have to wait for this, we have to wait for that.
Laura Waybourn: And finally we had a date and I called and we got it. Even one day earlier they said, okay, we’ll call the judge. And they did. And you know, that’s, that’s why is, why do we have to do things [00:20:00] the way that we always do them? Why don’t we just do whatever’s best for the kid? I’m not saying go outside of the law, I’m saying.
Laura Waybourn: You know, if it’s inside the law and it’s not illegal, why can’t we just do it?
Andrea: Talking about this case has been really striking for me because my daughter is three and a half, so I have a very direct comparison at home. Absolutely, and it’s been so striking to me to hear people describe how Alyssa was about being separated from Britney.
Andrea: Because I’ve been gone for four days. Let me tell you, you know, my daughter, I mean, I, I miss her so much, but you know, it’s, most kids that age are really, really attached to their mom, and it strikes me that Alyssa just wasn’t no.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: She was not. She was not at all. I felt like, you know, and we have a little bit of experience in adoption except for the babies.
Sheriff Bill Waybourn: It was almost overnight. For instance, at first she called me Daddy Bill and Mama Brittany, [00:21:00] and we were able to get to, I remember getting to a point where, You don’t have to do that anymore, and she seemed as excited as we were.
Laura Waybourn: But as far as becoming a part of our family, it was very, very quick. It was not difficult at all to just fall in love with her and for her to just become ours.
Andrea: I’ve spent a lot of time with a lot of these stories and you just don’t get very many sweet moments like this one. It’s so funny in talking to, you know, how these eight kids came to be. I remember sort of hearing that and knowing that about you guys before I talked to you individually and thinking like, oh, well one of them must be very like pro this idea of adopting kids.
Andrea: And then I’m like, oh no, they both are they just you guys alternate. Who’s the person who’s like, all right, this, this kid’s ours. And then they gotta convince the other one, and then the next time it’ll be the other one trying to convince the other one. So I love that. That seems like a great match. Yeah,
Laura Waybourn: and I [00:22:00] mean, it’s just, we, we are, we are not normal.
Laura Waybourn: We are not normal. I can say that with a, a certain degree of. Well, a very high degree of certainty. We are not normal. I mean, we didn’t go looking for any of the kids and they, they were just kids that needed us, and I’ve said it before. I was in fertile. And I don’t talk about that a whole lot because it’s just not much of a thing because I believe that I was infertile because I was supposed to adopt kits.
Laura Waybourn: I just, I just do, I think that God worked that out and that’s how he needed to work it out.
Andrea: Yeah. I mean, I have to say like being a sort of a Pacific northwesty type, vaguely spiritual person than a strict religious person myself, this is a story that it’s hard not to see God in this story. Amen.
Andrea: If you would like to support the show, you can join us over on Patreon or subscribe on Apple Plus, and you will get all episodes [00:23:00] early and ad free as well as lots of exclusive bonus content if monetary support is not an option. Rating and reviewing the show is a tremendous help as well as sharing the show with friends on social media and elsewhere.
Andrea: Nobody should believe me is produced by large media. Our music is by Johnny Nicholson and Joel Schock. Special thanks to our lead producer, Tina Noel and our editor Travis Clark.
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Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 09The VerdictAndrea and special guest Bex (aka our Florida pediatrcian friend) process the shocking verdict in the Maya Kowalski trial. After 9 weeks of testimony, the jury awarded the Kowalski family nearly $300 million...
Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 10The Verdict Part 2Andrea checks in with lawyer and trial consultant Jonathan Leach hours after the Kowalski verdict comes down. They talk about the judge’s decision to disallow testimony from the defense on medical...
Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 11Star WitnessAs we continue to process the far-reaching implications of the shocking verdict in the Kowalski case, we take a closer look at Maya Kowalski’s testimony and what we know about her. She’s emerged as a...
Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 12System OverrideWith the jury's stunning $242 million verdict in favor of the Kowalski family, host Andrea Dunlop looks at why this case has struck such a nerve on both sides of the political spectrum. She examines why...
Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 13What Now?Just when we thought the endless saga of Kowalski v Johns Hopkins All Childrens was over...it turns out it might only be beginning. In this episode, lead attorney for the Johns Hopkins All Childrens defense...
Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 14Media CircusThis week Andrea examines how the harrowing and complex story of the Maya Kowalski case turned into a pop culture moment, and spread dangerous misinformation in the process. We continue our conversation...
Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 15The Trials of Dr. Sally Smith (Season Finale: Part 1)In an exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, host Andrea Dunlop travels to Florida to speak to the embattled child abuse pediatrician about her life and work and...
Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 16Bad Press (Season Finale: Part 2)In the second part of our exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, we discuss how the media coverage of her reached a fever pitch and turned her life and career upside down. We explore...
Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 17Dangerous Women (Season Finale: Part 3)In the third and final installment of our exclusive interview with Dr. Sally Smith, she shares her side of what happened in the Maya Kowalski case, revealing how perilous Maya’s...