Amazing Family of Dwarfs and Average-Sized

ByABC News via via logo

April 24, 2004 -- The Roloffs of Oregon say they are a perfectly balanced family.

Parents Matt and Amy Roloff and son Zachary are little people, while Zach's twin, Jeremy, their sister Molly and youngest son Jacob are average-sized. It is common for those who have dwarfism to have average-sized children.

"It's actually more common than you think," said Matt Roloff, 42, who designs and sells computer systems. He wrote a book about his experiences as a little person, Against Tall Odds, with Tracy Sumner.

Matt said that based on the medical odds, he and his wife expected to have children of different sizes.

"Amy and I had a 50 percent chance of having a dwarf child, so when we had the twins, we had one of each, which was perfectly aligned with the odds," Matt said.

Amy Roloff, 41, coaches the children's soccer teams and is fulfilling her dream of being a mother. She says people seem more shocked about the number of children she's given birth to than their varying sizes.

"Well, I think they're surprised just by the fact that I have four kids because a lot of people only have like one or two nowadays, and they think that's overwhelming," she said.

When Amy was pregnant with the twins, who are now 13, she didn't gain that much weight, but at her height, it was certainly obvious that she was pregnant.

"Well, I think of it as a Weebles wobble, you know, but they don't fall," said.

Independent Kids

Matt has diastrophic dysplasia, a relatively common form of dwarfism characterized by short limbs and orthopedic problems, he had to get a number of surgeries on his legs when he was younger. But his parents never held him back or coddled him, and he even had a paper route. Now Matt says he is raising his children to become just as independent as he is.

Matt says his family doesn't really focus on their external differences because they've all loved one another for who they are inside for so long.But he says his kids need to be strong because sometimes people at restaurants or the mall have mixed reactions to seeing their unique family.

"They think the circus has come to town or something," Matt said. "I mean, it's, we get a lot of double-takes and a lot of comments. And I notice as the kids are getting older, people start to ask the kids more questions."

Molly, 10, says she doesn't get annoyed when people ask about her family.

"Well, sometimes in the store they ask me, is that your mom or dad? They ask, well, why are they so short? I just say, that's the way they were made," Molly said.

Because Matt wanted Zach and other children with dwarfism to be able play outdoors just as much as average-sized kids, he built an extraordinary wonderland on the family's Portland-area farm. It includes a tree house, a pirate ship and an Old West area, all perfectly sized for little people.

"Well, we've actually built it, you know, with all the access for both fitting little people and average-sized people," Matt said. "I mean, for example, the ladder going up the tree house has got very short little steps so that Ican get up in it.

"And of course, there's a lot of head bumpers if you're over 4 foot tall," he said.

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