Nobody Should Believe Me S02

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Only the Beginning

In the aftermath of Brittany Philips’ conviction, Alyssa faces a daunting new reality: the path to recovery. The long-term physical and psychological effects of Munchausen by Proxy abuse cast a long shadow for survivors, and bringing Brittany to justice is just the beginning of the healing process.

In this episode, we delve into Alyssa’s journey and witness her remarkable growth as she embraces her new life. Bravely refusing to let her past define her, Alyssa emerges as an inspiring overcomer, as aptly described by her adopted mother, Laura Waybourn. As a family, the Waybourns navigate the challenges with unwavering determination and resilience.

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Show Notes

Host Andrea Dunlop:

For behind-the-scenes photos: 

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For information and resources:

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children’s MBP Practice Guidelines can be downloaded here.

More about Dr. Marc Feldman:


[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 to connect with professionals who can help.

People believe their eyes. 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 Dunlop. And this is nobody should believe me.

In the last episode, we covered the trial of Britney Phillips and know that she ultimately took a plea deal and spent five years in prison. So now, if we were on an episode of Law and Order, S V U, this is where the story would end. The [00:01:00] offender goes off to prison, justice is served, and that’s where the credits roll.

But of course, for the people involved in these cases, This is really just the beginning of another chapter, and that child is now tasked with recovering from this horrible trauma and moving on with their life, with whatever family they have to do that with. Hopefully. The sad fact is that in a lot of these cases, they might not have good options for family members to take them and might end up in foster care.

And while I love sharing this story about Alyssa, I just wanna be clear that this isn’t necessarily indicative of what happens in these cases as we’ll see with someone that we’re gonna talk to in the next episode. So this whole process of trying to find a family for one of these survivors can be really complicated.

And so I talk to my colleague B Yorker, who is a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse and has a law [00:02:00] degree and is a professor emeritus at Cal State la. We don’t have a perfect system. I do wanna say though, that we have some wonderful, happy endings. We actually, at least as far as we can tell at this point in time, we do have kids where their mother’s new husband who catches on and the mother’s in jail, the new dad adopts that child and the child starts.

Opening up and saying, I’m so grateful to be with you. Are you gonna protect me? They’re just very, very grateful to be out of that situation. So we do have, at

least as far as we can see now, some happy endings for these kids. But in general, what we really, really want is for parents. To be able to put their kids’ needs ahead of their own.

And this is often hard. There are a lot of broken people out there. There are a lot of people who don’t have the capacity to put someone [00:03:00] else’s needs above their own. They’re just so broken and needy. To your point, most of the cases that we’ve talked about on this show are cases with. Happy endings where they either ended up with their father who was loving and who understood what was happening.

Or in the case of the We Burns where they were adopted by family members and had very good outcomes. Alyssa had been living with Bill and Laura Webern for years. By the time that. Brittany’s trial actually happened in the time that she was sent to prison. There was still a lot of bureaucratic barriers and hoops to jump through before Alyssa could be a permanent part of their family.

This is obviously a very stressful and financially involved process, and I asked Bill Weyburn what kept him going through all of that. Well, have you met Laura Weber?

I may just answer the question. Yes, well it did because she was the one that bailed into the bureaucracy. And she was fighting every day to get that child. Every day. She [00:04:00] was not leaving caseworkers alone. She wasn’t leaving bureaucrats alone. She wasn’t leaving attorneys alone. And she would see the next logical step and she gets about, God gave her about 35,000 words a day, and she’s gonna use them inbar against the next day.

So she was that point of the spear as far as where I was at, is that she would brief me and I mean, this is how we worked in tandem. She says, this part of the program needs to move forward and they need to hear from you. This, this, this, and this. So I’d pick up the phone and call an attorney and say, we need to do this, this, and this.

And I’d give him the details. But Laura wanted my voice in that area, but far as most of it, 98% was Laura. I showed up, I made some calls, but she was the one. Absolutely focused. And now I want to tell you, just for those people that are listening and you say, well, she must be very organized and in order, no, she’s very focused.

And if she [00:05:00] said, go get this file in my house, or go get this document, or go get that sweetheart, I don’t have any idea where to look for that, cuz it’s a

different place every time. It’s only in your mind and she can come up with it like that. But it was Laura. I can’t take any credit for that at all. She was very, very focused.

She needed me to be a willing participant and just go along and be the blocker where I needed to be the blocker. So had you terminated parental rights before the criminal trial? No, we didn’t terminate parental rights until much, much later. We had issues with the biological father who had said that he would relinquish his rights and then he.

Didn’t, Alyssa even at one point asked to call him and ask him, and then she sort of wrote out something and she ended up not wanting to talk to him, but she wanted me to talk to him for her and tell him what she wanted and he, he wouldn’t. Did you meet him? Oh, absolutely. [00:06:00] And what were your impressions of him?

There was evidence, clear evidence, even by his own mission that he knew there was something going on there, but he hadn’t me had contact in three and a half years. When she was put in foster care, his first actions was to get down and cut off her aid that his child support. That was his first action, which wasn’t much.

Then if you can imagine, you get a call that your three and a half year old. Has been seized by CPS and that something bad was going on and she’d been tortured is, let me see the next flight. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah. The next flight home. All beyond my way to, beyond my way to the airport. Yeah. We’re dropping everything and we gotta go.

Not him, you know, it was weeks. It was weeks before he shows up and he visits twice and leaves. 30 minute visits, hour long visits, and he shows up. And then, uh, it was torturous. Alyssa’s biological father had never really been a part of her life, and it was clear to the way [00:07:00] Burns that he was not going to be a presence, that he was not going to provide a good home for Alyssa, and that he just wasn’t really interested in showing up as her parent.

So they moved forward to try and get full custody. We had a meeting, uh, with our attorneys and said, that’s it. We have no reason to meet with you again. You know, come and get us if you think you can. And we waited. That was the last time I. That she saw him, didn’t miss him, ask about him from time to time, but there was no bond there.

Alyssa had come to us and it had really, really been bothering her that she wasn’t adopted. She knew that we were her parents and that she was gonna live

with us forever, but she knew that she wasn’t adopted and she asked us to do whatever it took. She’s such a cool kid. She began to lobby us and she says, I need to be a full waiver.

Of course, we we’re not gonna say no, and so we were able to get that done. [00:08:00] It took us quite a while, but we ended up terminating on both of the biological parents later on. And then we adopted Alyssa officially on her 10th birthday, and we had a celebration, had a big celebration. All the doctors from Cooks was there, and Mike Weber was there.

And just a lot of people that were heroes that had brought all this together. Just a wave story real quick. I’m hard of hearing. I’m very hard of hearing Laura’s across the room and I hear her say this, there’s a hundred people there. But I heard her say this, somebody ask her, are y’all going to adopt again?

And she said, no, this is it. I remember breaking through the crowd in slow motion because I could not shut her mouth quick enough saying God heard you. What do you mean declaring that listener? That was not it. [00:09:00] So six weeks later we, consequently we ran our last adoption. We’ve coached her not to say that anymore.

We, uh, say that we’re out of bed trying to, when I met Bill, I had no idea what. Was about to happen in the next season of my life. To say he’s crazy, big-hearted is a little bit of an understatement. I can’t even see a lot of the things that he can imagine. I can’t even understand it even now. And so it wasn’t something that we planned, not a single.

One of the adoptions was, we’re gonna go and we’re gonna adopt a child. We didn’t plan it at all. We sort of say, we sort of accidentally adopted eight kids. The Webers are a really special couple, and they have created this big family and have a lot of love to give. One of the things that’s remarkable about Alyssa’s case is that so many people in her life and in the Wayburn family and their extended family in particular, [00:10:00] really did the hard.

Right thing of seeing this abuse for what it was, and frankly, this is not something that a lot of people are able to do. We see a lot of these cases where various family members and people in the offenders life. Will refuse to accept that this abuse is happening regardless of what evidence they’re presented.

And this wasn’t the case with Alyssa and it really took all of these people coming together in order to not just sort of initially rescue her from Brittany, but

also to make sure that she had. A really stable, loving family to land in. And this was really, it took an entire community of people to help this child.

And someone else I wanted to follow up with was Faith Webern, who was a big part of this case, and I wanted to ask her her impressions of how Alyssa’s doing now. Happy, I mean, thriving, healthy, just as normal as [00:11:00] she can be. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’m sure that, you know, she of course, remembers some things, so I’m sure that that has to bother her.

But I think she’s happy. She has a great life. She has great parents. This is the life this child was supposed to have. Yes. And it almost, she almost didn’t. Yeah. I, I know this from having read all about the case, I mean your, your text messages. With Brittany played a huge part in this. I’m sure you know this already, but you are a huge part of wireless.

Ended up where she did with the rapes and safe. I don’t feel like I was a big part of it. I just feel like I just did whatever I had to do. I mean, Laura was really the person, I guess, you know, cuz I would talk to her and she’d say like, oh yeah, anything you can get her. To tell you about, you know, the doctors or conditions or anything else.

She’s like, that’s just really important. And so I would just ask her questions like what medications, what doctors, what illnesses, you know? And she would just tell me because she thought that, you know, we were gonna end up [00:12:00] taking care of her and we would have to take her to these doctors and you know, all that kinda stuff.

And I think when Laura got her, and Bill and Laura got her, and. Um, they started taking her to the doctors, you know, to kind of follow up and see what actually was going on with her. And Laura would text me and say, she’s not allergic to any of those things she said. Like she’s fine and she can eat and she’s fine.

And Laura would say, I just let her have anything she wants, like all the food she wants. And Laura would say she was kinda timid at first, you know, and unsure maybe. But I was like, I just let her eat. Just have it have whatever you want, you know, eat, eat more. That was the thing. And so, I don’t know, I’m just happy.

I’m really happy that she’s with Bill and Laura now.[00:13:00]

At this point, Alyssa has spent the majority of her life with the way burns. So I wanted to talk with Bill and Laura A. Little bit more about what she’s like. She’s 14 now, so this is, this has been a long time that she’s been with you guys. And what are some of the things you’ve seen her struggle with?

I’ve seen her struggle with people making comments about her height. It even just happened last night and it’s just, She’s just very, very small. You know, people just asking, just incredibly silly questions. And the person last night said to her, bless her heart, you know, is your mom really small? And, you know, and, and she handled it because she’s.

Great. You know, she handled it, but it’s still, it’s just stupid to have to deal with that. And it’s just, you know, every once in a while she’ll just say, why did this have to happen? And, but then, you know, she picks herself up and, you know, so I mean, it’s, it’s kind of like we [00:14:00] open the box, we deal with it, and then we close it back up and put some tape on and move on.

And then if we need to open it up again, we can open it up anytime we want to. And so she doesn’t focus on it. Ever for a long time. But when she does, it’s sad. You know, she has scars, physical scars, so, That are there, you know, from her G button and from another surgery. And so, you know, she has to make a decision every year about, you know, what kinda swimsuit to get and how, how she’s gonna handle that.

And she can do it. She’s an amazing, amazing young lady who is very sure of herself and those kinds of things. Just, they just drive me crazy for her because it’s just so. Completely unnecessary. This did not have to happen as far as her struggling, she has just overcome so much. I would say that there’s a lot of things that [00:15:00] she does that I could say probably she does ’em because of what happened to her, but I mean, we say it all the time and it, it’s not just a phrase, it, it really means something.

She is not a victim. She’s an overcomer, and she unfortunately has had to overcome a whole lot more than a lot of people. Five times her age, but she did, and she puts her energy into doing something good for others. You know, she’s got siblings who have, all of my kids are adopted. There’s not a single one of ’em that didn’t suffer loss because of it.

You know, that’s what adoption is. Some of ’em are, are a more traumatic story than others, and. You know, you can’t get into a battle of, oh, well my, my trauma’s worse than your trauma. But she can certainly, she has helped. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, her helping somebody, trying to help somebody

overcome, feeling like a victim and moving towards being an overcomer.[00:16:00]

Just because you know something happened to you doesn’t mean you have to do this this way anymore. I can say all day long, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I wish that I grew you in my belly. I wish that me and daddy were your dad from before you were born. I wish that that had happened. I, I, I can’t fix that and I can say all day long that I, I’m so glad I.

That I got you the second that I could, the second that I knew that you needed a mommy, I, I got you and I got you as fast as I could. And that’s what I can say to all of my kids that, that we’ve adopted that as soon as I knew I was your mommy, I, I worked to get, because my kids live with me, they live at my house with me, and so, But that’s different than, you know, where she can say something happened to me too.

I get it. I’m not with my biological mother. I’ve had loss. I’ve had horrible things happen to me, and I have things that happened to me that you don’t know about that I’m not gonna [00:17:00] tell you about, but that you know, that you do too. We’re the same and. I can do this and so can you. She is incredible and her projection as a full grown adult I think is gonna be magnificent.

I think she’s gonna be a champion. I think she’s gonna be a champion for God first, but I think she’s gonna be a, uh, champion for children. She’s gonna be a great nurturer. I think that whoever it is that marries her is gonna have an incredible. Incredible wife, and I think she’s gonna be a strong woman.

She has all that makings, but she knows who she is and knows where she’s going at the moment. Alyssa is such a best case scenario for one of these cases because she ended up with you and Laura, who are so well equipped to be her parents because of who she is. But obviously I think it’s still important for people to understand that, of course, something like this is going to have a lasting effect and.

I [00:18:00] wonder how you see that kind of showing up for Alyssa and how Alyssa is maybe wrestling with some of those things. And I’d imagine that that sort of changes at varying ages. It it does, and I, I, it is less and less as years go by, but there’s times. Or she’ll pause and want to talk about it, but those times are getting further and further apart.

So she doesn’t think, except for moments like this, that she’ll be even thinking of Brittany or anything about that. It’s far, far away from us. It’s a different world

in a different life now. I was just at one of those meetings where we talk about human trafficking and that, you know, you have that victim of human, human trafficking that, that they’re that victim and they go from victim to survivor to thriver to champion.

Alyssa’s at a championship already. She is. She is already there. And lasting effects that she knows is that when she looks in the mirror and sees her scars, lasting effects that she knows, is that because that she was [00:19:00] starved as a child? That probably that has something to do with her growth patterns and how tall she is.

So those are the physical reminders that she will see for the rest of her life. But far as her mental spirit, she’s Bill and Laura Wave’s. Little girl seemed like Alyssa was just on this trajectory towards you guys. She was, as Mike said, she was looking to upgrade. I believe it was a divine appointment.

Of all the stories the waves told me about Alyssa, this is the one that really got me last year at Mother’s Day in the card that she wrote to Laura. She talked about her being her birth mother. She just forgot. Isn’t that beautiful? Oh, I will never forget it. It was, I believe it was two years ago. When you adopt older kids, don’t get me wrong, any parenting is hard.

I’m not trying to take away from. Anything, but it’s to parent a kid who has been traumatized or hurt or not [00:20:00] parented or didn’t have a good relationship with their parents. And so they don’t know what it’s like. It’s not hard for me in, I’m sitting here thinking, well, they don’t know what I did for them.

You know, I’m, I’m not expecting that. But to see a kid. Hurt and to not know what a good relationship is like that’s where the pain comes from, and it was the most beautiful thing when Bill came, after they gave me what they ended up buying me for Mother’s Day, he told me this. Story. And she was sitting there and she was kind of tearing up and I was tearing up and he was tearing up.

She had said something about when she was born, you know, and she had literally just forgotten for that moment that she wasn’t born to me. And that was the most beautiful thing ever because I don’t wanna ever take away from any of her story. I don’t wanna ever take away from any of what she can learn from the pain that she’s been through, [00:21:00] but to know that she’s overcome it so much so that.

She can forget for a minute. It was, ugh. It was, I will never forget that moment. It was so beautiful. Alyssa’s story is so moving and I’m just so happy for her that

she got to have a childhood after all, and. Got to have a family, and it’s what all kids deserve. And unfortunately for a lot of people who experience this form of abuse, this is not the outcome that they get.

And in the next episode, we are going to talk to my dear friend and colleague Jordan hope about their experience and what happens when a child is not removed from one of these situations. I started to be in, out of the hospital for this eating disorder because I didn’t know. Any different and the hospital had become such a safe place in a way for me to be taken [00:22:00] care of.

And I was a kid that was homeless and so I needed some sort of care still, that’s next time on. Nobody should believe me. 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 early and ad free as well as lots of exclusive bonus content if monetary support is not an option, reading and reviewing the show is a tremendous help as well as sharing the show with friends on social media and elsewhere.

Nobody should believe me is produced by large media. Our music is by Johnny Nicholson and Joel spac. Special thanks to our lead producer, Tina Noll and our editor Travis Clark.

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Season 03 | Episode 14

Media Circus

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...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 15

The Trials of Dr. Sally Smith (Season Finale: Part 1)

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...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 16

Bad Press (Season Finale: Part 2)

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...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 17

Dangerous Women (Season Finale: Part 3)

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...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)

What Jack Knew

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 18What Jack KnewAs we prepare to launch Season Four next month, we’re revisiting the subject of Season Three—the landmark Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children’s verdict, in which a jury awarded Jack Kowalski more than...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 19

What Happened to Beata?

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 19What Happened to Beata?This week's episode delves into the intricate details surrounding Beata Kowalski's death, which was central to the Kowalski's lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children's, as well as the...

Special Report: Watching Take Care of Maya (re-release)
Season 03 | Episode 20

Kowalski Case Update with Ethen Shapiro

Share this episodeSEASON 03 | EPISODE 20 Kowalski Case Update with Ethen Shapiro Join Andrea as she delves back into the ongoing legal battle of Kowalski v. Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, with Ethen Shapiro, the lead defense attorney for Johns...

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