What Kate and Gerry McCann's life looks like on what would've been Maddie's 18th birthday.

At around 8.30pm on May 3, 2007, Kate and Gerry McCann left their three sleeping children in their holiday apartment in the quiet Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz and headed out for dinner.

They thought that Madeleine, three, and 18 month old twins, Sean and Amelie, would be safe just 83 metres from where they were dining at a tapas restaurant with the group of friends they were holidaying with.

Throughout the evening, the adults took it in turns to check on the kids.

At 10pm, it was Kate McCann’s turn.

When she arrived at apartment 5A, she knew immediately something was wrong.

Madeleine was gone.

What happened next is well documented. The story of the blonde toddler’s unexplained disappearance became a global news story.

when did madeleine mccann disappear
Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007. Image: Getty.

Today, May 12, would have been Madeleine's 18th birthday, with her parents marking the occasion with an emotional message. 

"Every May is tough – a reminder of years passed, of years together lost, or stolen," Kate and Gerry McCann wrote on the Facebook page 'Find Madeleine Campaign'. "This year it is particularly poignant as we should be celebrating Madeleine’s 18th birthday. Enough said."


The parents went on, saying the pandemic has been difficult but added that they were thankful "the investigation to find Madeleine and her abductor has continued".

"We hang on to the hope, however small, that we will see Madeleine again. As we have said repeatedly, we need to know what has happened to our lovely daughter, no matter what. We are very grateful to the police for their continued efforts."

They concluded: "We still receive so many positive words and good wishes despite the years that have gone by. It all helps and for that we are truly grateful – thank you."

In another post for Madeleine's 18th birthday, the parents wrote, "We love you and we're waiting for you".

This month of May also marks 14 years since the wide-eyed toddler's disappearance. 

Last year, the McCanns farewelled 2020 saying it was a year they "don’t want to remember but will find it hard to forget".

"There’s no doubt that 2020 has been tough for most people, and often distressing, with so much loss, worry and isolation," the couple wrote on the Facebook page. "Despite losing a parent each, we are aware we have been more fortunate than many, with our family unit at home and jobs to go to."

They added that the pandemic had forced the investigation into their daughter's vanishing to "slow down".

"It hasn’t stopped however and the hope, energy and determination to find her and uncover the truth remain steadfast. Let’s hope 2021 is a brighter, more positive one," they concluded their post. 

Despite the pandemic, there seemed to be a massive breakthrough in the investigation last year.

In June 2020, news broke of a new suspect in the missing case - a German national called Christian Brueckner who is currently in prison for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman.

A statement from Madeleine's parents, read by Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell, welcomed the new police appeal.

"All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice," the McCann's statement said.

"We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive, but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know as we need to find peace."

Christian Brueckner mug shot
The image was taken in 2018 in Milan where Christian Brueckner was arrested and extradited to Germany for the rape he is currently imprisoned for. Image: Carabinieri Milano via Getty.

It was later reported by the UK tabloids that German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters had informed the McCanns their daughter was dead via a letter.

Speaking to the MirrorWolters said: "We, of course, really consider the fact that it is going to be very hard for the family when we tell them we assume Madeleine is dead. But we can't say why she is dead.

"It is more important that we are successful and we are able to get the culprit, as opposed to just putting our cards on the table and tell them why we think she might be."

 In a statement published on their website, Kate and Gerry claimed the media reports were inaccurate, denying they'd received any such letter or correspondence from German authorities.

"Like many unsubstantiated stories in the media, this has caused unnecessary anxiety to friends and family and once again disrupted our lives," the statement read.

The story of Madeleine McCann has indeed been subject to high media interest ever since her mysterious vanishing.

In 2019, a Netflix documentary, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, recounted the chain of events in detail, and offered several theories as to what may have happened to Madeleine.

Kate and Gerry McCann refused to take part in the program, stating that it could impede the ongoing police investigation.

In a statement on their website, they said: “We did not see and still do not see how this programme will help the search for Madeleine and particularly given there is an active police investigation, could potentially hinder it.”

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann trailer. Post continues after video.

Video by Netflix

Who are Madeleine McCann's parents? 

Kate McCann (neé Healey) was born in 1968 in Huyton, near Liverpool. She graduated in 1992 with a degree in medicine from the University of Dundee. Gerry McCann, born the same year as Kate, was also a medical scholar, in Glasgow. After working in obstetrics and gynaecology, Kate became a GP. Gerry worked in sports medicine before moving into cardiology.

The couple, described by friends as "inseparable," met while working as junior doctors at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow.

They married in 1998 and had Madeleine in 2003 after IVF treatment. Twins Sean and Amelie followed two years later. The family moved to Rothey in Leicestershire, when Gerry got a job as a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in 2005.

Did the McCanns split up after Madeleine McCann went missing? 

While the McCann's never actually split up, Kate has spoken about how close their relationship came to breaking point. In her book, Madeleine, Kate talks about how she withdrew into herself after Madeleine's disappearance, ceasing to read, play music, or even have sex with husband Gerry.

She said that the fears a paedophile had taken Maddie very much played into that.

Kate wrote: "Tortured as I was by these images, it's not surprising that even the thought of sex repulsed me.

"I worried about Gerry and me.

"I worried that if I didn't get our sex life on track our whole relationship would break down."

She also recalled how supportive Gerry was during the darkest days of their lives "He would put his arm round me, reassuring me and telling me that he loved me," she wrote.

Kate and Gerry McCann in 2007. Image: Getty. 


Kate McCann, 53, and Gerry McCann, 54, remain together and continue to fight for information about Madeleine's disappearance.

In 2014, Kate told the BBC that she has returned to Praia da Luz on several occasions.

"I do go back for personal reasons," she said. "It’s obviously the last place we were with Madeleine and I still walk those streets and I guess try and look for answers. It helps me, most of the time."

After Madeleine vanished, Kate quit her job as a GP to work for children's charities. Gerry McCann is now a professor of cardiology and prides himself on having “established a national and growing international reputation as an expert in Cardiac MRI (magnetic reasoning imaging)” – or scanning, as reported by The Sun.

The McCann's have used AUD $308,000 made from sales of Kate's book about their daughter to continue the search for the little girl.

Their twin siblings, Amelie and Sean are now 15.

For more on this topic:

Feature Image: Getty.

This article was updated on May 13, 2021.

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