I am a 1)dwarf. God made me this way. I’m little, just like He made you have brown hair and blue eyes.
Based on birth records, it’s estimated that there are at least 15,000 people with dwarfism in the United States. And there are more than 200 different types of dwarfism. What these people have in common is their unique application of a skill that every human being learns in one way or another: how to adapt to the world around you, regardless of who or what or how big the world thinks you are.
Susie (Campbell), at 3’10”, has the most common form called 2)achondroplasia. Susie’s achondroplasia came from a 3)mutation in a gene from her father. Her parents and brothers are all average sized. And when she was born in West Texas in 1961, her mother got some 4)sage advice from her grandmother.
Susie: “Take her home, love her.” And my mother had no doubt. She just needed that reassurance from her mother. Here we are, you know, 45 years later.
At home in Maryland, Susie’s own family has gone to extraordinary lengths to extend that philosophy. They adopted a young dwarf named Suscha from a Russian 5)orphanage.
Mark (Susie’s Husband): They brought this little girl in and she walked in, and this little girl was looking down at her feet like this and she just looked up every once [in] a while and we both just, right at that moment, fell in love. It was quite a powerful moment.
Susie: What comes after 19?
Susie: Say “twenty.”
Suscha’s two front teeth are missing. That’s normal for a 6-year-old. But because of the design of her jaw, her tongue also gets in the way of learning to pronounce words. When she’s an adult, her 6)skull will, in fact, grow larger than average. With Suscha, there are also unanswered questions. She has a form of dwarfism that is unknown to doctors, complicated by the fact that she was abandoned and no family history is available for her. Her legs are not like a typical dwarf’s. She stands and walks on her toes in a kind of painful half 7)crouch. Next year, Suscha is scheduled to have surgery in hopes of correcting the problem. In the meantime, the Campbells have given her a life in a 8)suburban neighborhood where she can be a kid. And the Campbells can only map her future one day at a time.
Susie: She’s our rare little diamond.
Reporter: What has it meant to you to have Suscha in your family?
Susie: Oh, God, it’s meant a lot. For me, for Mark, for Joshua.
Joshua is still another story from the Campbell family. He is Susie and Mark’s 9-year-old biological son. And he already towers over his mother because he is not a dwarf. He is a kid of average height who has absorbed the unusual diversity in his family in his own way.
Reporter: Do you have to teach other kids about your mom and dad or do they know them?
Joshua: Yeah. I have to tell them that they were made by God, you know? And I…I think it’s very nice to have them as my parents and I love them. That’s what I tell to the little kids.
To complete this remarkable family portrait, there is Mark, who is a systems analyst with the Social Security Administration. He has still another type of dwarfism, much more rare called 9)hypochondroplasia. At 4’7”, Mark is taller than most other dwarfs. His body proportions are closer to an average human’s, but his arms are disproportionately short.
Four people, three dwarfs, no two alike, one family.
Reporter: When you think of your family and what makes your family unique, does height even enter into that equation?
Susie: Uhm-uhm. We are a family. We’re a mother, father, a son and a daughter. I take them to school. They clean their room. I discipline them. We’re just like any other family. No different.