The parents of missing Madeleine McCann spoke of their mixed emotions in keeping alive the hunt for their daughter while providing a happy family life for their other two children.
Twins Sean and Amelie, toddlers at the time of the abduction in Portugal, are now four, just a little older than their sister when she vanished in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz two years ago Sunday.
They talk about their sister every day and include her in their games. Amelie wears her sister’s shoes, telling her mother that Madeleine’s feet will have grown “when she comes back."
“I honestly believe they’re expecting her to come back home one day soon," said Kate McCann. "They’re very much ‘well, when Madeleine comes back, we’ll share our toys’.”
Experts at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va., have produced a computer image of what Madeleine would look like now.
In an article in Sunday’s News Review, Emma Loach, the producer of a Channel 4 documentary to be screened this week, describes the dilemma facing the McCanns whom she first got to know while making a program to mark the first anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance.
“The further away they get from the shock of finding Madeleine had gone, the more they find themselves able to function,” she writes.
“In some ways this disgusts them. In some ways they feel they should still be incapable of operating in this bizarre, horrifying new world where Madeleine has been taken from them. But this is not an option, they have to keep going for the sake of all their children. The twins deserve a happy childhood. And if they don’t keep looking for Madeleine, who will?”
Gerry McCann describes how they have adjusted to this new world.
“Healed is a bit difficult, adapted is probably the right word,” he said. “There’s still a scar, a deep, deep scar that’s kind of knitted at the minute but you still think it might break. We are a happy family, but we’re not a complete family.”
Kate McCann says in the documentary, “I think we’re far from normality.”
She said she recognized the importance of spending time thinking about Madeleine, however painful.