When it comes to the most modern family on TV, forget, well, the actual “Modern Family” series … and meet the “7 Little Johnstons”!
Debuting in 2015 and going eight seasons strong on TLC, the lovable reality series follows the Johnston clan — mom Amber, dad Trent, and kids Jonah, Elizabeth, Anna, Alex, and Emma. They, per ABC News, refer to themselves as “the real life seven dwarfs,” and consist of “a mix of biological and adopted children from various parts of the globe,” per the Mirror. They’re also, as ABC News explained, “The largest family of achondroplasia dwarfs … a type of dwarfism that affects the extremities.” As a result, no member of the family is taller than four feet. But that hasn’t stopped the bodacious blended bunch from reaching incredible heights in the little person community — and on the small screen.
From DIY backyard zip-lining in their spacious home in “rural Georgia” (via the show’s description) to family fun road trips up the California coast (i.e. shredding gnarly waves), there’s never a dull moment with the Johnstons, who are extraordinarily fun to watch. If you’ve begun getting to know the Johnstons on TV but crave more, here are some fascinating fast facts about the “7 Little Johnstons.”
Trent and Amber Johnston are high school sweethearts
Before they were on the “7 Little Johnstons,” Amber and Trent Johnston were just a couple — a couple of high school lovebirds, that is! They met as teenagers at a Little People of America convention, which they were both frequenting at the time. “It’s a group that arranges meet ups for little people,” Amber told the Mirror. “…So people can get together, learn about medical things affecting us, and just be around other people with dwarfism.”
How did their first encounter go? As Trent told the Mirror, “I saw a gorgeous blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 16-year-old girl.” To which Amber chimed in, “And I saw a very attractive young man with a funny personality. … Trent was my first relationship, we soon became best friends and we knew we’d get married.” Aw!
According to ABC News, after dating for over three years, they did just that, tying the knot in fanfare. According to the Mirror, the duo got hitched in front of 300 guests in November 1998. Sounds like the gang’s hilarious (and catchy!) “Grease” music video parody isn’t so far from the truth (minus those leather jackets, probably).
Pregnancy became dangerous for 7 Little Johnstons star Amber
Part of the charm of the “7 Little Johnsons” (though there’s plenty of it!) is their amazing blended family. But for Trent and Amber, the decision to adopt after welcoming two biological children emerged out of the medical risk of Amber continuing to have kids.
According to ABC News, five months after the wedding, Amber became pregnant with their first child, Jonah. A couple years after Jonah arrived, she became pregnant with Elizabeth, which was “grueling” and “dangerous.” As ABC News further described, “Amber’s hips routinely became dislocated.” At one point, she measured 48 inches tall and 51 inches around. “Jonah spent a long time in the incubator, and then we had the same rough start with Elizabeth,” Amber told the Mirror. “But all parents face challenges, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.” Amen! Pregnancy is never easy, but their difficulties led to something beautiful.
After Jonah and Elizabeth were born (both via C-section), the Johnstons chose to start adopting. Soon arrived, “Anna from Russia, Alex from South Korea, and Emma from China,” per the show’s description. As the Mirror wrote, little people in some other countries are often “badly treated,” so it was a no-brainer for the couple. “There are children out there in need of homes,” Amber told the outlet. “And Trent and I were fortunate enough to be able to provide for them. We knew we didn’t need to give birth to these children to take them into our hearts.”
The Johnstons only have average-sized furniture
If you’ve taken a gander around the “7 Little Johnstons'” roomy (and new) Georgia home, you may have noticed that it doesn’t look much different from anyone else’s. That’s because it isn’t! The Johnstons prefer average-sized furniture and appliances, instead of anything little person-oriented, as doing so helps their tots get used to the real world.
“Trent and I were raised the same way, nothing was modified for us,” Amber told the Mirror. “We are adamant our kids learn to adapt to the outside world so they can go out there and get on with life, and that training begins at home. The only thing I have adapted is my car; I have pedal extensions to drive safely. Everything else is normal.” She added, “We shop in regular stores for clothes, but then we have a lady who makes some alterations to the trouser legs … We have slightly larger bottoms or a little more ‘junk in the trunk’ as I say!”
According to People, Trent’s goal is “self-respect.” As he told the outlet, “Once they walk out this door, no part of this world is built for them … I tell people, ‘our arms and legs are short, not our minds.'” What a great mindset!
Amber of 7 Little Johnsons fame is the only little person in her family
Amber Johnston may be the matriarch of her own little empire today, but that wasn’t always the case. Growing up, the “7 Little Johnstons” star actually was born the only little person in her family. Being the only child with achondroplasia in a family of five may seem difficult, but it sounds like it was all-around a supportive and loving environment for the future reality TV star.
“I was the only little person in a family of average people, but my parents raised me the same as my siblings,” Amber told People. “Plus, I’m the oldest, so even though I was smaller, I was always in charge!” Some things never change!
Trent, meanwhile, did grow up in a family of little people; so it’s perhaps those duel perspectives that, in part, make them such great parents. “I grew up in an all-little-people family,” Trent told People. “[But] we didn’t have a ‘Woe is me’ attitude. My parents raised us just like every other parent would raise their child.”
Elizabeth and her average-sized boyfriend are going strong
You may recall oldest daughter Elizabeth Johnston mentioning her boyfriend, Brice Bolden, on a latter season of “7 Little Johnstons.” And yep, the two seem to be going strong! But that’s us burying the lede: Brice is of average height. You might think this is something that makes the two quite an interesting couple, but in true Johnston family form, it doesn’t seem to matter much to them. Two years in, and they seem totally smitten. Brice’s Instagram account is chock full of photos of the pair, and so is Elizabeth’s.
“2 years: that’s 24 months 730 days 17,520 hours 10,511,200 minutes 63,072,000 seconds that I have loved and laughed with you always,” Elizabeth wrote on Instagram in April 2021. “I love you!!!” she added. They seem like a truly sweet couple, as further evidenced by their cute fishing date on a more recent episode. Perhaps we’ll see more of Brice on later episodes of “7 Little Johnstons.”
The stars of 7 Little Johnstons don't let haters get in their way
Ultimately, one of the biggest charms of “7 Little Johnstons” is that they’re just your average American family. They have ups and downs, new relationships, breakups, and fun family vacations. And they’ve never let haters get in the way. On the stares they unfortunately sometimes get, Jonah told ABC News, “It’s frustrating more than sad. I don’t think they would want us to stare at them. … We’re no different than other people. It’s just our height difference.” When Elizabeth once got called a little person slur in third grade, she proudly responded, per ABC News, “That’s how God made me — that’s how he loves me.”
“We honestly have always — in all of the challenges that we have faced and continue to face — been a team,” mom Amber told Good Housekeeping. “We know that a relationship, parenting, and marriage is a constant work in progress. With both of us feeling that and knowing that, we don’t give up.”
According to E!, TLC’s Duggar family nets $25,000-$40,000 per episode, so it’s safe to say the Johnstons could be making that much. And more power to them! They’re doing great things for little person visibility on TV, and making good money while they’re at it. If that’s not the American dream, then what is?
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