Details About Madeleine McCann's Parents (And Life Since Madeleine's Disappearance)

Madeleine McCann, a few days shy of her 4th birthday, vanished from her bedroom while her family visited Praia de Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.

Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were having dinner near their rented apartment with friends. Madeleine and her younger siblings, twins Amelia and Sean, slept. According to the BBC, the McCanns and their friends took turns going back to their apartments to check in on their children. At one point during the night, Kate checked in on her children. That was when she discovered Madeleine was gone.

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann fascinated the world in 2007 and continues to do so now. Her case remains unsolved despite new developments in 2020. For months, people were riveted to a picture of Madeleine with her curious gaze staring out. Celebrities like David Beckham and "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling got involved and urged both Portuguese and British authorities to find the girl.

The McCanns immediately set up a website and asked for donations and public tips to find their daughter. In those months, the world was gripped with Madeleine's story; her parents were everywhere. They appeared on TV, and print reporters hounded them. Their every move, particularly Kate's, was dissected. People believed that somehow, their actions in public would lead to some sort of answer as to where their daughter might be.

They both practiced medicine

The McCanns met in 1993 in Glasgow, Scotland, wrote Heart. Both studied medicine, Kate at the University of Dundee and Gerry at the University of Glasgow. They married in 1998 and had their first child, Madeleine, in 2003. Their twin children, Sean and Amelia, were born in 2005.

Gerry focused on cardiology while Kate worked as a general practitioner, though she mentioned in her book about Madeleine's disappearance that she tried to practice in gynecology and anesthetics. He continues to work in the field and also took up research positions in experimental medicine. He also has expertise in cardiac imaging. 

Both McCanns are devoted Catholics, and they leaned Into their faith when their daughter vanished.

On that fateful vacation to Portugal, they were joined by several friends they met through work. Most of the group were also doctors and had all worked in hospitals around the Leicestershire area where the McCanns lived.

They sued newspapers and got an apology

Madeleine McCann's disappearance took a sensational turn when Portuguese authorities threw suspicion towards the McCanns. They were considered persons of interest, though they were never charged with anything.

But it was the public that dealt so much damage to the family. Twitter started to gain traction in 2007, and, as the BBC further reported, the McCanns were the first target of trolls. People hurled abuses towards them, despite neither Kate nor Gerry having a social media presence. For the public, the McCanns' stoicism meant they were guilty, as if going into hysterics is the only way to grieve. The attacks on Kate were truly brutal, explained The Independent, though it turned out the McCanns had been advised not to show emotion, because the kidnapper or killer might find joy in their pain.

The McCanns testified during the Levenson Inquiry on the actions of the media. The inquiry found tabloid editors becoming obsessed with the family. It led to an unprecedented apology from United Kingdom newspapers, including the Daily Express.

They run a charity

One of the things the McCanns did early on was to establish Madeleine's Fund, to raise money for help in the search for their daughter. Since the inquiry into Madeleine McCann's disappearance was officially ended in 2008, the fund now pays a small team of investigators. The fund also set up Facebook pages to help gather any tips from the public.

The fund is run by a board of directors that includes the McCanns. It saw donations from celebrities like Simon Cowell, J.K. Rowling, and Richard Branson. After U.K. newspapers apologized for their treatment of the McCanns, a sizable donation was also made in their name to the fund.

Through their involvement with the fund, the McCanns became friends with some U.K. personalities. According to The Daily Mail, TV host Denise Welch invited Kate McCann to attend the show "Dancing on Ice." Kate declined, saying online trolls will latch on any moment of fun for the family.

They go back to Praia de Luz

For many families, going back to the scene of something so horrific would be impossible. But the McCanns return to Praia de Luz and Algarve as much as they can. In an interview with the BBC, Kate McCann said she finds solace in her visits.

"I do go back for personal reasons. It's obviously the last place we were with Madeleine, and I still walk those streets and try to look for answers," she said. It is not clear if they still coordinate with the Portuguese police. 

The McCanns had been on vacation in the small resort town of Praia de Luz when Madeleine McCann disappeared. It turned into a media circus when the investigation was in full swing, though it's only recently that media interest in the area picked up again. The New York Times said journalists have returned to Praia de Luz, following new evidence in the case.

The McCanns also travel around the world to raise awareness about Madeleine's case and the disappearance of other children. In many of their travels, they talk about how their daughter's disappearance has affected them.

They continue to look for their daughter

In 2020, German police announced they believe they have new evidence about Madeleine, reported The New York Times last June. It, along with a Netflix documentary, renewed public interest in the case and the family.

The McCanns never stopped looking for their daughter. Gerry McCann remains a doctor and is a cardiovascular consultant at the University of Leicester and also teaches. Kate McCann left medicine but works with children's charities.

BirminghamLive wrote Gerry's mother, Eileen, died of Covid-19 in June 2020. Both Kate and Gerry are understood to have attended the funeral.

At the time, the German police said they believe a German man in custody killed Madeleine. The case remains active as investigators are looking for possible accomplices, including a man who called the suspect the night Madeleine vanished. The McCanns, though, vowed that they would continue to look for Madeleine while the investigation continues. 

Madeline's parents still buy her birthday presents

Ten years after Madeleine McCann went missing, British authorities were still pursuing leads. Reports emerged of a "significant line of inquiry," as assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said in a statement (via People). The statement also exonerated four past suspects and could offer no insight into whether Madeleine was alive or dead but did confirm an active and ongoing investigation. Madeleine's parents marked the anniversary in their own way, issuing a statement on their website and sitting down for an interview with Fiona Bruce (via People).

The McCanns said that they hadn't lost hope that their daughter was still alive. "My hope for Madeleine being out there is no less than it was almost 10 years ago," said Kate McCann. She added that she still marks Madeleine's birthday by buying her presents, as she does at Christmas. But the McCanns also said that they had tried to keep life moving for the sake of their twins, who they wanted to have a normal life.

They issued a statement after a woman claimed to be their daughter

In 2023, a young Polish woman named Julia Wendel made headlines by claiming to be Madeleine McCann. Wendel, who was also known as Julia Faustyna, was convinced that she wasn't the birth daughter of her parents, who she said refused to discuss her childhood. She seized on certain similarities between her appearance and photos of McCann to support her claims.

Wendel found a champion in Fia Johansson, a psychic investigator, who flew Wendel out to the United States when she began receiving death threats for her claims. There, she submitted DNA samples to confirm her identity. A facial recognition software had already failed to match Wendel and McCann; the tests confirmed Wendel's Polish background, with no trace of British ancestry, ruling out any chance that she was the missing McCann child.

After the results, Wendel issued an apology and returned to Poland. Her relationship with Johansson soured after the DNA test. A woman following the McCann case asked about the incident on the Find Madeleine Facebook page, but the response was brief. A statement from the page read: "There isn't anything to report at this time. If and when there is, it will come from The Metropolitan Police" (via LBC).