What Life Is Like For a Little Family Who Call Themselves the Real-Life 'Seven Dwarfs'

The Johnston family members are all 4-feet tall or shorter.

ByABC News
April 9, 2015, 4:26 PM
The members of the Johnston family are all 4-feet-tall or littler.
The members of the Johnston family are all 4-feet-tall or littler.
Amber Johnston

— -- The Johnstons are not your typical American family: parents Trent and Amber, along with their five children, are all 4-feet tall or under.

They say they are the largest family of achondroplasia dwarfs in the world, likening themselves to the seven dwarfs from the Disney movie “Snow White.”

“We happen to be seven dwarfs,” Amber, 35, told ABC News’ “Nightline.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s who we are,” added Trent, 38.

“It’s literally what we are,” said Amber.

The Johnston family stars in TLC’s newest reality TV series, “7 Little Johnstons,” which airs on TLC on Tuesdays at 10 p.m., bringing the world into their hectic three-story home, where they’re raising their kids.

Jonah, 15, and Elizabeth, 13, are Trent and Amber’s biological children. Anna, 14, was adopted from Siberia, Russia, and 9-year-old Alex was adopted from Seoul, South Korea. Emma, 9, was adopted from China. Alex is the youngest, but Emma was the last to be adopted.

“The social acceptance for dwarf children in most foreign countries, their acceptance and their future is not as great as your typical average child,” Trent said. “We don’t see it as we saved them. They gave us their presence. They're our children.”

“The least we can do is give them opportunity and give them education,” Amber said.

Throughout their lives, Trent, a ground supervisor at a local college, and Amber, a stay-at-home mom, say they’ve faced difficulties from the outside world, like being discriminated at work or being called names. But they now have a whole different set of hurdles to contend with: raising teenagers.

From teaching their 15-year-old son how to drive to talking about the birds and the bees, Trent and Amber say they never let their size get in their way.“We instill that in the kids as well,” Trent said. “Now when the kids come up to us and tell us, ‘I can’t do that. I can’t do that,’ [we say], ‘Don’t bring us I can’t.’ ‘Let’s go back, and figure it out.’”

Trent and Amber said they’ve refused to accept the easy road in life. Though dwarfism classifies as a disability under the Americans with Disability Act, making them eligible for accommodation, the Johnston’s don’t see themselves or their children as disabled. They even refuse to modify their home, which they are renovating by themselves, to accommodate their small stature. Trent says they want to teach their children how to be independent.

“Once they walk out the door nothing is modified for them. I want them to be able to go to their friend’s house and know how to adapt,” Amber explained. “Versus, if they go over there and it’s an average size house, and all they're used to is everything being lowered and modified, they're not going to know how to function, and they’re going to have to constantly ask for help.”

“It’s a good idea, because we’re living in an average-sized world, and it’s not like outside of our house it’s going to be modified,” Elizabeth told “Nightline.”

And while they have a reality show now, Trent and Amber say they’re not going to change anything just for the cameras.

“We’ve been asked many times, ‘Will you adopt another child?’ No, the show’s not going to be here forever, number one. A child’s going to be here forever, and a child is not something that you do to get a show,” Amber said.

“There is a show, but before there was a show, there was the Johnston’s, and this family. And that’s how it’s going to be,” Trent said.