As Whitney—thought to be Laura—began to slowly recover, she began to say some things that raised questions. "I remember Don Van Ryn saying to me, 'Isn't it funny she called us 'false parents?' What do you think that means?'" says Cindy Barrus, who worked on Laura's rehabilitation.
Stephanie Peper, one of Laura's therapists, says that when she called her patient "Laura," she would respond with a whisper, saying "Whitney." "The name 'Whitney' to me was a piece of the puzzle," Stephanie says. "But I didn't know it was the piece of the puzzle."
When Don's sister-in-law Ruthanne visited the hospital, she did not think the woman before her was Laura. In the families' book, Mistaken Identities, "Ruthanne scrunched up her face like she'd bitten into something sour. 'I don't care what anyone says, that doesn't look like Laura to me.'"
"We just assured her that's natural," Don says.