Jeff Bramley, 34, and his wife Jenny, 35, from Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, foster Jade Bennett and her half-sister, Hannah. The girls had been given up for adoption by their mother Jackie Bennett, 24.
AUGUST The couple are told by Cambridgeshire County Council social services that they are not suitable to adopt and the placement is being terminated.
The Bramleys appeal to the High Court for the right to adopt Jade and Hannah but are turned down.
Mr and Mrs Bramley are due to hand over the children to social workers but fail to attend a meeting. Their car is missing and a search of their empty home reveals no clues to their whereabouts.
Police hold a press conference, giving descrip-tions of the Bramleys and circulating their photographs.
The Bramleys' relatives appeal for them to give themselves up.
Reported sightings from around the country. Detectives go to Milton Keynes to follow up reports that their car, a blue G-registration Honda Concerto, has been seen in the area.
The Bramleys are said to be in Blackpool and there is also a sighting in Llandudno.
A sighting of their car is reported in Worthing, West Sussex. There are also suggestions that they are in the Irish Republic.
The girls' pictures are put on milk cartons and details go on the Missing Persons' Helpline.
An appeal on BBC's Crimewatch elicits a furious response from viewers who say the Bramleys are innocent.
Their car is found near York rail station with some of the family's clothes inside.
1 JANUARY 1999
The Rev Jack Cooper claims to have seen the family on the North York Moors railway near Pickering. He said that neither adult could deal with Jade's uncontrolled screaming or Hannah's restless behaviour.
Video stills taken from CCTV in Pickering show four people believed to be the missing family.
Media organisations receive a letter believed to be from the Bramleys, pleading to be allowed to be the girls' "Mummy and Daddy forever".
Jackie Bennett, the girls' natural mother, changes her mind about wanting the children back and says: "I will try to see if I can get you to keep my children."
Paul Duckett (right), Jade's natural father, says he will fight for custody of his daughter, whom he has not seen since she was a few months old.
Liz Railton (far left), director of Cambridgeshire social services, writes an open letter, telling the Bramleys the department has no objection to them reapplying for adoption.
Max Clifford (right), the public relations consultant, claims to have been in contact with someone close to the family who asked for advice.
The foster parents and the children fly to Stansted airport, Essex, from Ireland and are met by social services staff and police.
Jeff and Jenny Bramley are taken to a secret address and questioned by police for several hours. Jade and Hannah are said to be fine.