Zach and Tori Roloff met on the Roloff farm which also serves as the set for the popular TLC program Little People, Big World. Zach has dwarfism, but that hasn’t stopped these two from falling in love and building a family. Complications involving their very public marriage, and a difficult issue surrounding their firstborn, have meant that the couple’s relationship has been put through the test in ways that would likely defeat most couples.
Fall on the Roloff family farm typically only means one thing, pumpkins. But in the fall of 2010, something else blossomed there as well. When Tori Roloff (then Victoria Patton) arrived as a hired farmhand to pick pumpkins she had no idea she’d be meeting someone so special.
Tori happened to have caught the eye of one of the Roloff boys, and Zachary Roloff couldn’t keep his feelings for Tori to himself. After mustering the courage to ask her out, their quaint date turned into five hours. By the end Tori realized that she was falling for him. The was only one problem, the farm happened to be the site of a popular reality show with constantly rolling cameras.
The show, Little People, Big World originally aired in March 2006 and was meant to be a short series that educated audiences about the challenges that people living with dwarfism face in everyday life. The focus of the series soon changed though. Audiences found themselves falling in love with the Roloff family, Matt and Amy, Zach’s parents who both have dwarfism, and their four charming children, Zach, Jeremy, Molly, and Jacob.
Flash forward four years later, and the series that was meant to last no more than a few episodes was about to start airing its sixth season. The show now focused on the daily lives of the Roloff family as they dealt with problems both medical and especially, personal. Now however, it seemed that the Roloff family’s time in the spotlight was almost up.
The fall of 2010 was meant to be the show’s final season, but fans weren’t having it. Soon the Roloff’s reported receiving one fan email every five seconds with viewers insisting that the show stay on the air. The farm itself had already become a popular tourist destination as well and traffic getting to the farm had become so bad that highways were being shut down.
While the studio deliberated, Matt and Amy could hardly contain their excitement and were expressing their gratitude that so many fans were tuning in. “Nothing like this has ever been on the air!” Amy declared in an interview with Ability Magazine. The parents’ joy wasn’t shared by everyone in the family however.
It may be safe to assume that growing up with cameras watching your every move is can be quite difficult at times. It proved to be too much for one of the sons, Jacob, who felt as if the show were portraying him as something he wasn’t. It wasn’t even just him, Jacob also felt that each member of the family was being marketed as a caricature of themselves.
Jacob explained in an interview, “The family that is filmed is not my family, they are the Roloff characters and I have scarcely anything in common with them, nor do I want to be a character myself.” The family looked like it might splinter, until something wonderful happened.
After Jacob’s departure, the family needed something to reunite them. That something came on a July day, nearly five years after Zach and Tori had fallen for each other on that memorable five hour date. Zach and Tori decided to make their love official and get married on the famous family farm.
The wedding was reasonably attended with only around 200 guests, but millions more watched on TV and cheered from home. For a moment, it seemed like things were turning around for the Roloff family, but in spite of this incredibly joyous occasion trouble was brewing behind the scenes.
After Zach and Tori Roloff were done tying the knot, Zach’s parents decided to make an announcement of their own. The two had agreed that is was time for their marriage to come to an end. The two had been married for 30 years and so the split came as a complete surprise to the rest of the family.
Thankfully, the split remained amicable, with the two deciding to continue working together and sharing daily chores. In a joint statement they informed their fans that, “Our kids and our ever-growing family…will be our priority. We will continue to work together side-by-side in the daily responsibilities for our many current ventures.” At the same time, the audience’s attention was also turning to another difficult subject, Zach’s health issues and what that could mean for his and Tori’s marriage.
Just like his mother Amy, Zach has achondroplasia, the genetic condition responsible for dwarfism. While most people with achondroplasia can expect to live for a normal and healthy lifespan, Zach’s condition had caused him an unfortunate number of side effects, and he was frequently in and out of the hospital.
As a kid, Zach had to have casts on to help straighten his legs. Then, in his sophomore year of high school, the doctors needed to add screws to his legs. More recently, Zach had been diagnosed with a degenerative disc causing his spine to narrow. New wife Tori tried to stay strong but couldn’t hide her fears surrounding Zach’s medical problems. Would they prove to be too much for her to handle?
Ultimately, for Tori, Zach had stolen her heart, and no medical diagnosis was going to get in the way of love. When asked about if her husband’s dwarfism bothers her, Tori promptly responded publicly with, “I don’t love Zach because of how he looks, although he is quite handsome if I do say so myself, but rather what things weigh on his heart.”
For Tori, the decision to marry Zach was a no brainer and, according to a post on Instagram, she couldn’t imagine life any different. Not only that, but according to the positive and caring Tori, dating Zach was also a great excuse for her to never have to wear heals again. While the two were madly in love with each other, an unexpected surprise would test the couple’s relationship in a dramatic way.
A little over a year after the two came together at the altar and said, “I love you,” word got around the farm that Tori was pregnant with hers and Zach’s first child. The two could barely contain their excitement, and had even already decided how they were going to raise their first born. Zach was going to have to take on the role of disciplinarian while Tori would shower that child with nothing but love.
Yet, in spite of all their eagerness to meet their little lovebug, the two couldn’t help but feel a little anxious about how their newborn child might turn out. Dwarfism is genetically inherited, so would their newborn also have similar medical issues as its father?
On May 12, 2017 Tori Roloff brought a new little bundle of joy into the world and the loving couple said hello to their son Jackson. Reportedly, from the moment they looked at their precious child the two couldn’t have been more eager to begin their next big adventure together — parenthood.
Zach had grown up on a farm which is a lifestyle that involves a lot of hard work, but that lifestyle had helped him to decide what values he wanted to instill in Jackson. “I was going to parent my child with the mentality that not everyone gets a trophy. You have to earn it.” But even with his resolve, he was still stunned after the doctors made their announcement.
Shortly after the birth of their newborn son, the doctors returned to Tori’s hospital bedside with some troubling news. Like his father and grandmother, young Jackson had also been diagnosed with achondroplasia. Nothing could change the unending love that the couple felt towards Jackson, which made the news even harder for Tori Roloff to handle.
“It is scary,” Tori admitted in an interview, “no parent wants to hear that their child is different.” But that comment was immediately interrupted by Zach who told his wife, “But to me, that’s not different, he’s just like me!” Zach and Tori were ready for the future, but they had a long road ahead.
Some babies stay up and cry all night, others are fussy and others make messes reminiscent of a citywide riot. According to his mother, baby Jackson could not have been a more perfect baby. In an update about their new bouncing baby boy, Tori stated, “Baby J is sleeping a consistent 7 hours! Loves smiling at mom and dad! Falls asleep during pool time. Gets excited when we change his diaper and LOVES bath time.”
As for the couple’s relationship, they were falling more and more in love with each other each day, not even the stress of a newborn could stop that. Little did the two realize that troubled times lay ahead, and they were going to test their relationship to its limit.
After the new parents brought their son home, Tori began learning firsthand the struggles involved with breastfeeding a newborn. In a post on Instagram Tori confessed that, “Hands down the hardest thing about being a mom has been breastfeeding. It was something I did not expect.”
Tori admitted her innermost insecurities on Instagram over feeling like she was doing something wrong every time Jackson wouldn’t breastfeed. Adding to the stress, the new mama noticed the treatment she would receive when she tried to nurse Jackson in public. But Tori wasn’t about to let stigmas about breastfeeding hold her back from taking care of her son.
When it came to breastfeeding Tori had trouble with not only getting Jackson to nurse, but also with the stigma society places on women. “I hate the stigma of breastfeeding,” she shared publicly, “I still feel awkward in public when I feed my baby. Why should I?”
Having to deal with society’s negativity, Tori declared online, “I HATE the stigma of breastfeeding!” Tori was beginning to understand that being a new mother certainly had its share of challenges. Even with that being the case, Tori wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of her being the best mother she could be.
Many women had also undergone the same experience that Tori Roloff had, and they were quick to jump to her side in order to support her. Young mothers praised her for her openness and vulnerability in admitting the fears that they themselves had.
In response to her fans Tori wrote, “We as women just do the best we can and that’s all anyone can ask. You do you mamas. Don’t let anyone make you feel insignificant or like you’re not doing your best. Breastfeeding is ridiculously hard and it doesn’t always work out. Our kids are going to be just fine.” But this was only the beginning of her baby drama.
Breastfeeding issues aside, the first year of Jackson’s life included numerous adventures with his family. From pool trips to soccer games, Jackson’s parents wanted to instill in their son a strong desire to overcome his medical limitations. As Zach explained, “You have to encourage a dwarf child a little more because it will take them five steps to do what others can do in two.”
Things at home were going great as baby Jackson continued to grow with the love and support of his parents. Tori posted her child’s growth and development with her many excited fans, who in turn responded with adoration for the adorable infant. The internet can be a fickle place though, and soon attitudes towards Tori’s parenting style began to change.
Problems with the internet community began to emerge after Jackson’s grandfather, Matt Roloff, posted a photo of Jackson standing in a canoe without a life jacket. Once the photo was up on the internet for everyone to see, Tori began receiving criticism for how she was allowing her son to be raised.
Tori tried to calm the online hubbub and end the internet mommy shaming by pointing out that the canoe was on land and that they put one on him once they decided to take the canoe out on the water. The canoe incident might have been a little overblown, but soon things became much more serious.
Just a year after Jackson was born, Zach and Tori found themselves, hearts no doubt pounding, racing their one-year-old son to the emergency room. In a June 2018 Instagram post, Tori revealed that her one-year-old son had hurt his arm playing and trying to walk. Jackson was immediately rushed to urgent care where his arm was put in a sling.
Thankfully, Jackson didn’t suffer any permanent damage. Tori made sure to update her concerned fans saying, “We think he might have dislocated his arm. But we’re all good now, just sore.” Still, it seemed that after this incident online followers were less trusting of mommy Tori’s judgement.
Around the same time that Jackson dislocated his arm, a video emerged of him and their dog Murphy playing together. Some fans were shocked, saying that a dog like Murphy could be a danger to the child. It seemed that, based on the online posts that everyone had been seeing, Tori’s social media followers weren’t trusting her parenting decisions.
Concern is one thing, but doubting a mother’s ability to raise her own child is another. Tori responded back promptly, “We know Murphy would never hurt Jackson. So that being said let them be best buds. Kthanksbye.” Tori had no time for these nosy nannies while much bigger things were happening within the family.
It had been 14 years since the Roloff family first graced television sets and a lot had changed since then. Three of the four children had moved off of the family farm, and with the premiere of their newest season the Roloffs had an even bigger issue to address.
First and foremost was the fate of the farm itself. After the divorce of Zach’s parents the family had a major discussion around whether or not the newly divorced couple could continue to run the farm together. Both had taken up residency on opposite sides of the farm, but mounting tensions seemed like they might soon come to a climax for the parents.
While both Amy and Matt are living on the family farm in separate residences but within the same plot, the two have managed to find love. Amy with her new boyfriend Chris, and Matt with Caryn, who also happens to be the farm manager. Matt and Amy had decided to try running the farm together, but things weren’t going well.
Eventually tensions reached a boiling point and Amy decided to hire a lawyer to have her name removed from the deed to the family farm. It seems that the new season may follow her adventures in finding a new home, and hopefully will have a happy conclusion like a few other members of the Roloff family.
Jacob, the first of the Roloff children to leave the show after accusing the series of turning him and his family in to “caricatures” of themselves, became the newest source of Roloff family joy. Jacob tied the knot with longtime girlfriend, Isabel Sofia Rock.
With the news of another happy marriage, fans wondered when he and his wife would take the big step and start having children like Zach and Tori. Reportedly, that future might not be too far off, especially based on social media photos of Jacob lovingly playing with his siblings’ children, including the adorable baby Jackson. Jacob’s happy news however, was only a teaser to what Zach and Tori had to announce.
Fans had been speculating for a while whether or not the lovable Tori Roloff was pregnant again or not, “If I believe the magazine articles written about me I’ve been pregnant for the last year and a half,” Tori joked in a 2018 interview.
But finally the news that fans had been expecting came in the way of an adorable Instagram post involving her, Zach, and baby Jackson wearing a shirt that read “big brother.” Even more exciting? It’s a girl this time! The Roloff family was about to get a little bigger, but not without a few challenges for the cute couple to face.
In a post on Instagram, Tori admitted that she felt pregnancy round two was no easier. She said that while carrying a pile of towels upstairs she suddenly became tired and had to sit down. “I’ve never been good at asking for help and these days that’s all I ever do.”
In spite of some of the negative backlash Tori has faced after some social media postings, she has reported being grateful for the strength and support she’s received from her community of online followers. With this recent pregnancy, Tori has opened up about many of her challenges including her FOMO (fear of missing out) and her acceptance of her own body. Thankfully, fans seem to be giving her some of the confidence she needs.
Even with a two year old running around, a family farm whose fate remains unknown and Tori’s pregnancy difficulties, the two report being incredibly happy together. Tori’s professed that she’s only had more confidence posting photos because of the love and support of her fans.
In a post on Instagram Tori reached out to her fans writing, “Thank you so much for always supporting our family and loving us!” As for parenting, the two seem ready for the challenge no matter what comes their way. Between Tori’s loving nature and Zach’s determination, it seems the two will be more than able to conquer any difficulty they may face, and we’ll be happy to cheer them on in their journey.
Sources: Instagram, People, Cheatsheet